Monthly Archives: February 2015

Wrangler Kelly Training Our Young Horses

Following is the first of our monthly news updates on training our young horses for life at the Circle Z. We breed 2-5 mares each year, and with this comes many hours of teaching and loving each and every one or their babies. Our wranglers are all experienced to differing degrees in training horses, and I have asked them to share their thoughts on wrangling and training at the ranch. Enjoy!! . . . Diana

“Howdy, my name is Kelly and I am in my third season as a wrangler at the Circle Z Ranch. Our guests know me as Wrangler Kelly. It’s hard to describe what my actual “job” is, at it is certainly not the typical career path. Some of my daily duties include picking up horse poop, cleaning trails for our guests to ride on, cleaning the tack for the horses, picking up horse poop, picking up poop, pick up poop. It might sound like a “crappy” job, but everything else I do as a wrangler is pure fun: I get to play with horses six days a week! It’s not all roses, but my roses don’t have many thorns.

Kelly-early saddle work with Mima

Kelly doing some early saddle work with Mima

My first season working at the Circle Z, we had two fillies born; their names are Mima and Lavina. At first, they lived in the “mare pasture” with their moms, so I didn’t get to see too much of them. That was OK, because it’s important for the little ones to just be with Mom, and not fussed over too much by humans. Besides, I was busy learning trails and horse names. Not an easy thing at Circle Z–with over 100 miles of trails and over 100 horse names!

My second season at the Circle Z Ranch, I helped with halter training these fillies, first saddling and just basic gentling of these little ones. The fillies are both of the Quarter Horse breeds. Lavina is a reddish-brown color, called Sorrel. (If she were either a Thoroughbred or Arabian breed she would be called Chestnut.) Lavina is very active, and has not had a whole lot of interaction with people. I prefer to train babies with this disposition, as they tend to have fewer bad habits.

Kelly and Jennie discussing Mima's training. Notice, little miss Mima is the only one posing for the camera!

Kelly and Jennie discussing Mima’s training. Notice, little miss Mima is the only one posing for the camera!

Now little miss Mima, on the other hand, is very pretty. She is a Palomino in color, which is a golden colored body with white mane and tail. I have a saying, “pretty is as pretty does.” Mima is a spoiled little brat. Everybody sees and wants to touch and feed the pretty baby. So now, she treats humans like they are horses. She will nip or grab to see if you have a treat. She will bump into you to make you move out of her way. She is basically LAZY.

My professional background is the racetrack, so I prefer to train horses that are a little more lively. But as luck would have it, I ended up with the job of training the lazy baby. And I love her. I will talk more about progress with Mima in my blog post next month. In the meantime, take a look at this video, only my third time in saddle after doing ground work.

By |February 15th, 2015|Horse Talk|Comments Off on Wrangler Kelly Training Our Young Horses

Nature at the Ranch: February Report

Post by Vincent Pinto

February is a special month at Circle Z. As the ranch’s Naturalist and Astronomer, I am excited to share a plethora of exciting natural history and celestial events that world-weary guests can enjoy while seeking the solace of Nature.

Arizona Cottonwoods, with fluffy flowers beginning to give way to leaves. Photo courtesy Verde Canyon RR-flickr

Arizona Cottonwoods, with fluffy flowers beginning to give way to leaves. Photo courtesy Verde Canyon RR-flickr

Just as you may flock to southeast Arizona for a well-deserved respite from Winter, so too do legions of birds. Our warm weather and nearly tropical latitudes add up to a veritable birder’s paradise! A short wander from Circle Z near the inlet of lovely Lake Patagonia is a well-known wintering haunt of rare Elegant Trogons. February holds the promise of many other birds as well. Bridled Titmice acrobatically frolic in towering Fremont Cottonwoods and winsome Sycamore trees, searching for a snack of insects. Lesser Goldfinches prefer seeds and are often spotted at the ranch’s feeders. Here today–then gone tomorrow–are sleek Cedar Waxwings questing for wild fruits such as Mistletoe and Netleaf Hackberry.

Hepatic Tanager, courtesy Melanie C. Underwood-flickr

Hepatic Tanager, photo courtesy Melanie C. Underwood-flickr

I’ve even sighted wintering male Hepatic Tanager – a species that breeds in local Pine forests in warmer seasons. Any visiting birder should well be able see 50+ species in a normal day of birding. Many of these species, such as Abert’s Towhee, Gila Woodpecker, and Rufous-winged Sparrow are local specialties, difficult or impossible to see outside of southeast Arizona! Finally, listen and look for Great Horned Owls, who may have eggs or even nestling during February.

Many mammals are also on the prowl during February at Circle Z. During my weekly Nature Walk guests often learn about fascinating tracks of Coyotes, Bobcats, Grey Fox, Mountain Lion, White-nosed Coati, and other mammalian delights.Less frequent, though worth the time spent outside of course, are direct sightings of these and other species. In fact, February is prime time for a glimpse of the otherwise reclusive Arizona Gray Squirrel. Nearly endemic to its namesake state, this species would rather quietly skulk away rather than chatter at you, a la other North American Tree Squirrels. Whether afoot or astride a horse, past guests have been lucky to glimpse Gray Fox, Coati, Virginia Opossum, Whitetail Deer, Mule Deer, and even a Mountain Lion on rare occasion!

White nosed coati, photo courtesy Harvey Barrison-flickr

White nosed coati, photo courtesy Harvey Barrison-flickr

The Dainty Sulphur butterfly is delicate indeed. Photo courtesy of Anne Reeves-flickr

The Dainty Sulphur butterfly is delicate indeed. Photo courtesy of Anne Reeves-flickr

Although technically still Winter, February is truly the start of Spring at Circle Z. Witness the beautiful flowering Senecio shrubs along and near Sonoita Creek. These fragrant, yellow blooms attract Butterflies, about 330 of which have been recorded in Arizona. Small, slow-flying, and rather tame Texan Crescents can be common on warmer days, along with Queens ( a Monarch relative), Pipevine Swallowtail, Dainty Sulphur, and Tailed Orange.



Other plants are all over the place in their response to February. As I write, many Spring annual wildflowers are peeking their young leaves above the soil – a prelude to the many colors to come! Hairy Bowlesia, Popcorn Flower, Evening Primrose, and Prickly Poppy are just a few of the dozens of species that will grace us in Spring. Meanwhile, Mexican Elderberry is putting out leaves and will soon flower. Mock Buckthorn has ripening fruit and many plants are waiting for the last frost to leaf out. February is indeed a special time in Nature at circle Z!

By |February 11th, 2015|Nature, Observations|Comments Off on Nature at the Ranch: February Report