Keith Hunt - Wranging on the Range - Page Sixteen   Restitution of All Things

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Wrangling on the Range #16

Riding Bare-back!

                        WRANGLING ON THE RANGE #16


     It was a lovely summer day in Spring time this May 24th. The
Ranch was a buzzing with activity, lots of people out to ride the
trails in the warmth of the sun and blue skies above.

     The barn was full of horses, so I took Goldie over to the
second barn where it was cool and quite. While having her special
mash I groomed her down and got her looking her best. There is a
little winter hair left to come off, but not very much, by the
end of another week it should all be gone. I saddled up and rode
over to the active barn to see what the day was going to be like,
when I was needed to help out on the "guided" rides.

     The first guided ride was for 1 pm. I had some time, so I
put Goldie in a box stall and gave her some hay cubes, and then
headed for the outdoor arena, to start putting up my jumping
fences. I have to carry them into that arena piece by piece and
set them up. It is hard work under the warm sun, but I finally
got four of the seven set up.
     It was time to head back to the barn for the first guided
ride I was on today. It was just four people, three ladies and a
youngster on a pony. Moreen, the shorter young lady of our two
Moreen girls we have (I found out later the taller Moreen was in
the town of taking photos at the High School Rodeo) was
coming along with me as outrider. Moreen had already been out on
two guided rides.

     "Keith, can we go on a different trail than over on the
West," she asked me.
     "I'm going out that way," pointing my arm in what could have
been easily taken for the way she had already been twice. Her
face sank low, as she thought oh no, not that way again for the
third time. I knew I had not made myself clear. 

     "Can we go up Scenic?" Moreen asked.
     "I just do not at all like that trail, it's so stony, really
bad for the horses, like having to walk on marbles," I answered.
     Her face sank low again.
     "I'm going down into the valley trail," I called out to her.
     Then she realized I was meaning I was not going on the trail
she had been on, and her face lit up.

     It was a nice ride in the warm sun. I did the valley trail
without coming back through the tree line as I knew it would
still be muddy in the tree line trail, and with the youngster on
a pony I did not want to take any chance of the pony slipping or
tripping up in the mud, which can easily happen. 
     We met some member riders (who ride on their own) along the
way out and way back. Our six-some talked general talk, about
themselves, and about the Ranch. We all arrived back safe and
sound.

     The next guided ride was ... well a large group of friends
and family gathering and having an outing. Half the group would horse ride
while the other half took a wagon ride, then it would be vice
versa. The first horse ride group was about 15 riders, and we had
four out-riders and myself leading on Goldie. She was good for
about half way around the West trail (this was now the third time
for Moreen). Then Goldie started to get impatient, throwing her
head up and down, just too slow a pace. I finally said to Cole
(one of the out-riders), "You take the lead, I need to move up
and down the line as Goldie is getting bored and wants some
faster pace."
     For the rest of the ride that is exactly what I did, moved
Goldie up and down, front to back, of the line, to make it
interesting for her.
     We arrived back at the barn.

     "Keith," said Tom, "the group is going to eat at the Ranch
restaurant and so the second part will not ride for about 45
minutes."
     "Fine Tom, I will go and put up the rest of my jumps in the
outdoor arena," was my reply.

     When I arrived back at the barn the riders were just about
all up on their horses and ponies.  I mounted up on Goldie in the
box stall and had her push open the box stall door with her nose.
She really likes that door as it is on easy swinging hinges, she
gives it a nice big push and I think loves to see it swing open
so fast. If horses could smile, that pushing of the box stall
door open ... would I'm sure put a big ear to ear smile on
Goldie's face.
     This time I did not lead out, I knew it would be disaster
and not a pleasant ride for me, as Goldie would be so upset going
so slow.
     I moved up and down the line, talking to various adults. One
fellow in particular was talkative and had some interesting
things to say about his life as a 25 year Forest Ranger, and then
as a pilot for the water planes in forest fires. We naturally
also talked about horses. I forget now how we got on to the
specific question of riding bare-back; I think he just simply
asked me if I had done it. I told him I did about 50 per cent of
my riding as an older teenager and into my 20s, as bare-back
riding. I told him I could do any kind of riding, turns and
gallops etc. bar-back on my horse (a lovely looking Sorrel
registered Thoroughbred, who also loved to run). I explained how
riding bare-back is mostly balance, and how wonderful it is to
feel the muscles and every body movement of the horse as it comes
up through your legs and into your whole body. I told him how it
is feeling so "at-one" - as if one, with your horse. 
     For you youngsters, if you can, I recommend you learn how to
ride bare-back. It not only is a wonderful experience of being at
one with your horse, but it does help you to be a better rider.
I'm sure glad I rode bare-back as a young man, just to say I
really do know how it feels. When you getter older, as I am now,
it's just about impossible to ride bare-back, dashing around,
galloping, as I did when young, for as you get older you loose
your sense of balance. I am pleased that I can still ride Goldie
flat out, at 35 to 40 miles an hour (she can go that fast) while
keeping one hand on the saddle horn. When you get to my age, of
very near 67, if you dare go flat out at that speed on a horse,
you WILL keep one hand on the saddle horn. Most people will be
quite happy at age 67 to just go for a nice walk on the trails; I
just happen to be an exception, and at times, still like that
"rush" that a full fast gallop gives.

     With the end of that trail ride it was the end of the day.
The boys kept back part of the herd after we un-saddled, as they
were the older horses, and needed to be put on the best growing
pasture range. The Spring had been slow in coming this year and
so the grass on the ranges was about one month behind its usual
springing forth; the best grassed range so far out, was where the
older horses should go, and they did.

     It was a busy and profitable day for the young men who now
look after the horses and ponies on the Ranch.

                           .....................


To be continued 
     

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