WRANGLING ON THE RANGE #15
Sunday May 17th 2009. The day did not start like the weather
guys/gals had stated. It was overcast and looked like some rain
was up there, but as the day progressed it turned out as
predicted by the weather Channel - sunny, warm, and just
I arrived at the Ranch about 11 am. and the day was well
under way, riders were out on the trails. Brought Goldie in from
the back corral, she had her usual mash and I was busy grooming
her down; most of the winter hair has gone, I would say 90% of
it, and she is going into her deep gold color, and beginning to
look like a million bucks. She is a most lovely looking horse,
her grandfather was "I'm Impressive" - the famous USA horse that won
just about everything you could win in the "halter" class competitions.
I saddled up and rode out to the outdoor arenas, we now have
three of them (the owner made two new ones last Fall), but they
were all still to soft to set up my jumps to get Goldie back into
some Show Jumping practices, not that I will ever enter her into
any Show Jumping competitions, we just do it for fun and because
she likes it.
There was a large trail ride group booked for 1 pm, and they
did arrive nice and early, which was good, in fact it has been
very good for such groups this year so far, in the past they
tended to be late and so we got out late. Could be the boys have
been stressing the point, to be early, on the phone with them
when groups book in. There was 26 horses and ponies, and it does
look good to see them all in a nice string. We had 5 out-riders;
I led the way. Goldie was well behaved and for this hour-long
ride did not seem to mind the slow pace. The usual chit-chat went
on between the riders and the staff of out-riders. We did the
trail to the West which I really do not care for at this time of
the year; there is a good portion in the tree line and because
the trees block out the sun, it takes forever to dry up, so it's
very muddy. But all went very smooth just as we like it.
We arrived back at the barn and I was ready to have a nice
drink of juice and munch on some chocolate covered almonds.
Up to that point there was nothing else booked in for a
"guided ride" so I thought it was a good chance to ride a
favorite trail of mine, which is one we use for a two hour ride.
After the winter there are usually some tree branches that need
to be cut out as they fall across the trails over the winter
time. I was about to leave with my small axe tied to my saddle,
when Bob asked me to take out a lady and her son for a two hour
trail ride. The ladies name was Anna and her son's name was
Austin, he was about 9 years old and Anna, maybe in her early
30s, though I did find out by asking her how many children she
had, that she had a 16 year old daughter. She probably had her
daughter before she was 20 years old, as she certainly did not
look older than 35.
The age thing reminds me of a very funny beginning of a
trail ride about 3 years ago. A group of 12 ladies from a company
(as I found out) in the city had decided they would all come for a
trail ride on the Ranch. They all signed in, put on their
hard helmets and got ready to mount up on their horses. Well I
saw them all as they stood waiting for their horses to be brought
to them. And they all looked no older that, well maybe Grade 12
students, so 17 or 18. As I led them out about 100 yards, I
turned around to the lady directly behind me and asked if they
were all finishing High School. She laughed with joy and said to
me, "Oh no, we all work for a Company in the city." Then shouting
back to the lady on the last horse said, "Jane (forgot her actual
name now) how old are you?" Jane answered back, "I'm 29" (she was
the oldest of them). To which the lady behind me said, "Keith
thinks we are all still in High School, now that is some great
compliment right?" And of course all the ladies fully agreed. But
indeed they all did look younger than what they were, so they had
all been doing something right in their physical life so far.
I told Anna I would take them on what was my favorite trail,
as it had the best variety of scenery, some trails in the trees,
some in the open, and a good many ups and downs.
We got through the first range gate into the valley and
Austin's pony wanted to turn around and go home;
it was a little frustrating as the lad obviously had not done
every much pony riding. I got the pony going in the right direction
for maybe 10 yards and he did the same thing, stop and turn to go
home. I tried to give some instructions to Austin on what to do
to make his pony follow his Mom's horse, but I could see that I needed
to dismount from Goldie and give the lad a lesson from the ground,
which I did. Austin finally started to catch on and then did well in following Anna's horse. I stayed at the back to give a little "move along now" if
needed; after another hundred yards or so the pony decided to forget
about trying to go back to the barn.
Leaving the valley we climbed a slight hill, and through
another gate and down the trail into the next valley. I got to
know Anna along the way, and found out she had her own "painting
business" and employed three person, all year round. I told her
that was very nice and obviously she was doing well, which she
agreed that it was going quite nicely for her.
Anna was from a town nearby, which is 10 minutes East of the city,
the other way from the Ranch.
"That is quite the drive for you," I said.
"Yes, it is. I used to go to another horse Ranch closer to
where I live but they put their prices up, not just a few dollars but 14
dollars an hour, and that is just too much for me."
"Well yes, that is a big jump indeed for an all at once rise," I responded.
Anna and I talked about horses and the Ranch. I gave
her some of the history going back to the original Mr.and Mrs.
in the early 1940s. She had been out a week or so back
and had ridden then also. I said the horse she was on was one of those
good steady dependable, easy going horses that are so important
to have on such a Ranch as this one. I told her the story of how
I bought Goldie four years ago, and her star-spangled family
tree. In telling the story I had to begin with the horse at the
Ranch I rode for a summer and how nice a riding horse he is, and
that I wanted to buy him from the owner, but I had trained him
so well, and the owner knew it, that he wanted him to be his daughter's
barrel-racing horse. I told her he did go to the owner's house and range
but he had one big problem, he would run you in never-ending
circles to not be caught, two or three people had to get him in a
corner where he had no way out. I told her that they finally gave
up on him and sent him back to the trail riding barn. By that
time I had found my horse Goldie, bought her, and had her at the
I did tell Anna that next time she was coming for a ride to
ask for that horse; that she would enjoy riding him.
"You can ask for a certain horse?" Anna inquired of me.
"Yes indeed, you can on this Ranch, if you book two or three
days ahead of time."
"That is very nice, I could not do that at the other Ranch I
went to before."
"Not very many trail riding ranched do it any more; we still
do. And we may be the only trail riding ranch left in Canada that
still gives a 'membership' which means you can ride on your own,"
I informed her. Then added, "But the insurance company now
demands that a member does not ride all by themselves, no more
single one only riding, there has to be at least two persons.
Which means as a member you bring someone with you, to ride with
you, or someone like myself (a staff member) rides along with
All that made logical sense to Anna, for it is for safety
We talked about other things, mainly to do with horses. I
mentioned that it was a Filly that won the Preakness race, the
second leg of the famous triple crown in Thoroughbred horse
racing, and the Canadian horse "Mine That Bird" who won the
Kentucky Derby was closing in fast, but the Filly hung on to win.
That conversation led into the difference between a Female horse,
a Male horse, and a Gelding horse. Anna said she was interested
in buying a horse sometime, but would do her homework on it all
before she did. I told her she needed to get the "For Dummies
Horse Care Book" and it would lay it all out in easy to read
format the importance of knowing the full scope of owning a
Well back to the subject of male, female, gelding, horses.
"A Male horse is like a male boy or man, sexual parts are
all there. A Female horse is like a female girl or woman, all
functions of reproduction are in tact. A Gelding horse is a male
horse that has had ... in plain language, its testicles removed.
It can not breed, but it also looses much of its power, hence
very seldom indeed do you find a gelding horse on the race track,
and even more infrequent do they win any big races like the
Kentucky Derby. Even female horses seldom become Race Horse
famous. Now and again one does like the Mare called "Ruffian"
whom in her relatively short racing life was one of the greatest
Thoroughbred race horses of all time."
"Now that is enlightening about the Gelding, I did not know
those details, so this horse I'm riding is a Gelding."
"Yes, and that is why you like him being calm and pleasant
to ride, and most Geldings are that way."
We were into the second hour of the ride, and Goldie was
getting upset, as she wanted me to let her fly, especially on the
long flat stretch we were on, where I often do open her up and
let her think she's on the race track.
"Now, all Mares can be different, but you see how Goldie is
now acting; she just wants me to let her fly; she's upset with me
because I'm holding her back."
"Yes," said Anna, "I do see that she really does want to
"So there is a lot to think about if you do want to buy a
horse someday. Certainly a Stallion is a no no, for the average
person. Even Mares ... well you have to know the Mare and what
you want to accomplish in your riding. For most people like
yourself for pleasure riding with a lope now and again, the
Gelding horse is the best way to go. When you come out again ask
for Willy-rock, I think you'll love the way he goes, smooth trot,
nice lope, and he's a Gelding."
The rest of the ride was pleasant with "horse talk." We got
back just as the boys were turning out the herd from the corral
to the range and Anna and her son watched it all with big eyes
and a joyful heart. The pony the boy rode was calling to its friend in
the herd as they went passed us, wondering why he could not join
"fella," I said, "we have to go to the barn and take off your saddle
and bridle before you can join your friend on the range."
I talk this way, knowing the pony has no idea what I'm
saying, but it becomes much more pleasurable to be this way
We moved along and into the barn, and pony soon got to be
with his friend. Anna and her son had a good ride, they really
enjoyed themselves. I said goodbye to them until next time. Anna
said this would be her Ranch of choice from now on.
Betty, the lady who runs the summer kids camp, was out at
the Ranch giving riding lessons to two small children. We talked
for a while and said that time had gone by so fast, it was hard
to believe another summer camp was around the corner. She was a
little upset that the ponies down in the corral had no hay. She
had been out yesterday and they had no hay. I told her she better
remind the boys and I would also, which I did before I left for
home. I told her I was a little upset also about many of the
horses "pulling back" in the barn. We both agreed there were now
too many people working in the barn and not being slow and gentle
as they worked around the horses.
"I think some people, perhaps many people, think it is
"sissy" thing, and not "macho" if you work slow and gentle and
talk to the horses," I commented.
"Well most good horse trainers today do just what you have
said, and was not that how we did it with them the last two
summers when we were running the kids camp, and had the horses in
our care?" Betty said.
"Yes indeed we sure did," I answered.
We both hoped the boys and their friends would learn to do
some thing differently than what they are presently doing, but
old habits are often hard to change. Betty wanted me to bring Goldie
over to the other barn so the two young children and their mothers
could see her; she had told them how beautiful Goldie was, a lot
like Trigger that Roy Rogers had. I did so, and they were impressed
with Goldie as they stroked her neck and nose. She is most gentle
around kids and I think she really likes the attention and affection
they give her.
I gave Goldie some oats, she had worked pretty hard today,
but did not get the gallop she so badly wanted. I spent five
minutes going over the tricks I'm trying to teach her, but her
mind was on going out with the other horses on the range. And so
I set her free and she happily walk away to join the herd. And I
was homeward bound.
Tomorrow, Monday, is a holiday here in Canada. Normally I
would be at the Ranch, and they would be busy, but the weather
man has told us that rain and snow is coming, a drastic change
from today for a few days. So I will not be heading to the Ranch
tomorrow; I'll get some other things done and keep away from the
winter that's striking us again.
To be continued