DIARY OF WRANGLING ON THE RANGE #2
The winter of February 2009 was still a hard one. It had
been two weeks since I was last out at the Ranch. But this day
was to be about 28 degrees, and with lots of sunshine, which
always makes it warmer. I dressed though as if it would be colder
than that. It doesn't take much below freezing to make my hands
and feet unpleasantly cold.
Although February had been below normal in temperature, we
had had little snow, and the area had not really had much
snow all winter, not anywhere near as other parts of the Canadian
Prairies and much of North America. The sun was shinning through
long streams of silky thin clouds, and I was actually surprised
as I left the city limits (I'm only 5 minutes away from the
limits of the city) to see that 90 percent of the snow was gone
from the open ranges to the Ranch. All was looking the drab brown
color we have before the prairie grass turns to a lush green
when Spring arrives.
Even the majestic Rockies off in the distance were only
about half covered with snow, from the time before, two week
past. Of course old rocky peak was snow-less, as it always is.
We had had some mild days during February, enough to melt much
snow, but I never had the chance to go to the Ranch as other
commitments prevented it.
As I approached the Ranch barn a young lady by the name of
Mareena, was just going out for a ride. She had been out about
two months earlier, and was getting back into horse riding after
many years of absence from the pleasure. I stopped the car,
rolled down my window and shouted a "high." We chatted for a few
minutes and then I continued to the barn. Tom and Bob were there
training some new horses, ones that had been on the Ranch for a
while, but needed to be taught the ropes of trail riding. They
were doing their usual smack this, bang that, rattle this, while
riding the "breaking in" horses, a method I do not agree with. But
the young guys today seem to believe this is the correct way to
"break horses." I say the horses are tense enough and have their
minds filled on "what am I supposed to do now" in the normal
training of making a "riding horse," without the added stress of
this bang here and that flying rope over there, this crash here
and that rattle there. Horses will get used to different sights
and sounds in a normal life on a riding ranch. I found this to be
so true in my young days working on a riding ranch on the edge of a
city in Saskachewan. Teach them to know how to turn, stop, back up,
and just be well grounded riding horses first. Teach them to be
confident in all the basics. They should be only ridden by an ex-
perienced rider for quite some time, slowly getting used to many
things they will encounter as a trail riding horse, those different
sounds and sights. If you pour too much on at the beginning for those
average "mut" horses, it is more than they can handle, and in the
long run you defeat your purpose.
The young men and I exchanged greetings and I walked to the corral
at the back where my horse was patiently waiting for me. There were
lots of horses all around the barn area today, the boys had
brought the herd in that were out on the range for the winter in
the valley over the hill.
I mixed up my special mash for Goldie, and she eagerly and
happily enjoyed eating it all, it had after all been two weeks
since she had this mash. You may remember all the good stuff in
it, as I explained in the first chapter of this diary.
I brushed her down as usual. Took the bit and bridle to the
heated staff room so the bit could warm up. We hang all the
saddles and bridles up on the barn walls, and this barn is not
heated. So warming up the bit is a nicety we do, for who would
want a cold metal bit stuck in their mouth.
Goldie was all saddled and bridled and we were ready to go
out and enjoy a nice ride in the snow (always more snow at the
Ranch than at home) and the sunshine.
It was not long before I met up with Mareena, who was
opening a gate to head up the foot-hill mountain range that had a
spectacular view from the top. I said, "Well Mareena, I think I
will ride along with you, it is a nice day to see that view from
"Sure, Keith, happy to have you come along" answered
We wound our way up the hill, having to go through a few
snow drifts here and there, but finally made it to the top. You
have the Rockies in view to the West, and you see the valley of
the Ranch to the South and the North. It is quite a grand site
even in the winter. In the summer, with all the trees bloomed and
the pastures of the valley range all in green, with a natural
water pond near the barn, it is indeed a view to behold, just a
little spot of marvel in the creation of our God on this blue
planet we call earth.
Mareena told me it was her birthday. "Well," I said, "you
are giving yourself a wonderful birthday present."
"That is for sure, I love riding out here," she answered.
"How long are you riding for," I asked.
"Oh I rented this horse for three hours."
"Okay, that gives us time to ride down into the valley to
"Yes, I would like that," answered Mareena.
As we got into that valley the wind picked up some, so we
were walking into it, and a little cold it was.
"At least," I said, "we will have the wind to our back when
we are coming home to the barn."
It was not long thereafter that the wind stopped and we were
again enjoying the warmth of the sun.
"Have you ever entered Goldie in big Parade," asked Mareena.
"Actually no ..... but I think I should. I have this large
banner that takes two people to carry it, one at each end. It reads:
We Remember Roy Rogers (king of the cowboys) and Trigger
(smartest horse in the movies). I dress up like Roy, with all the
fancy clothes, have a silver saddle, though not real silver, and
Goldie looks like Trigger. Yes, I think I should this July enter
the Parade as Roy Roger and Trigger."
"Oh indeed I think so," replied Mareena.
On the way back two other young ladies came riding up behind
us, they had also rented horses and were on their way back to the barn.
We approached a gate near the barn corrals that needed to be shut,
for the time when the boys send the horses out on the range, at
the close of the day.
I dismounted Goldie and let the ladies go through saying,
"I'll close the gate, you can all keep going."
The two young ladies that had joined us said, "Ah, you know
we planned this, so we would not have to dismount and close the
I smiled and told them I kind of figured that. They laughed
and rode on to the barn.
From the last time I was out, and had cleaned Goldie's feet
I knew I had to trim them up, the hooves had grown half an inch
or so over the winter months. "Well, girl," looking at her, "it's
time to trim up those front hooves, I'll do your back ones next
time I'm out."
It is not an easy job cutting, and doing a trim, rasping and
making horse's hooves look nice, as well as making sure it is
done correctly. As they say, "If your horse does not have good
feet, you have no horse."
I picked up her left foot, after cleaning all the dirt out,
it was snip, snip, snip. I was pleased, so now for the rasping.
"Alright girl, that it your left hoof done."
I proceeded to do the same job on her right hoof.
"Girl, this is hard work for a guy my age, but I'm happy I
can still do it. Thank you Lord for the health and strength I
I finished with rubbing Goldie's hoofs with a special cream
you can buy from the "Horse and Tack" stores; helps keep them in
good healthy condition.
The drive back home was most enjoyable. A number of horse
ranches along the way with their nice looking horse, grazing
contentedly. One ranch must have acquired 4 new small donkeys, as
I'd never seen them before; all looking like they'd be super pets
for the children to fuss around. Then there was the ranch with
the cattle, about 100 I would guess; black with white markings
and brown with white markings; scattered over the range like a
black and brown checkers-board under the full beams of the late
I thanked the Lord for an enjoyable day.
To be continued