Keith Hunt - Back in the Saddle again - Page Twenty   Restitution of All Things

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Back in the Saddle again!

A good workout for Goldie

                        WRANGLING ON THE RANGE #20



     Friday June 12th was, according to the weather station going
to be mainly warm and sunny, with a possible afternoon thunder
show. The prospect of sunny and warm looked to be hopeful
thinking, as I drove west to the Ranch. The majestic Canadian
Rockies were but a faint shadow as if mere blurred formation of
clouds in the distant West. The hazy dark mist covering them made
their usual jagged but sharp lines seem to look like someones
wishful thinking of a mountain range, that you want to see there,
but it's only in your imagination.
     As I drove into the Ranch that morning, all was quiet. The
barn door closed, the herd of horses still out on the far range
to the north of the barn. There was no one to be seen, the barn
was empty. Well maybe it was going to be a late afternoon
business for trail rides, I thought to myself. I would have to go
to the range and bring Goldie in. It had been two weeks since I
last saw her and worked with her. I realized how time can go so
quickly.
     Betty's quad was at Paul's house, and so I found Goldie's
halter and started up the quad and away I went to the range
where, somewhere my horse would be. I drove up the side of one
small hill and as I came over the top, looking around, there was
Goldie laying down, having a rest. I called her name, and she
turned her head to face me, then stood up, and looking at me as
if to say, "Well, I've missed you, where have you been these last
two weeks." I climbed off the quad, said hello, stroked her neck
and face, put on her halter, and said, "Wow girl, are you ever
looking nice, all the winter hair finally gone, the good green
grass has filled you out and you look like a million bucks." I
led her back to the barn from the quad. 
     Back at the barn I mixed her special mash, but she was not
interested. "I guess all that good grass has filled you up
nicely, right?" It must have for she never ate one mouthful of
the mash.

     I brushed and combed her mane and tail. Saddled up and
started to head out. Bob was now at the barn. After the usual
greetings I said, "Pretty quiet today Bob. No people coming out
to ride," I enquired.
     "No one booked in so far, except a pony lead around," Bob
replied.
     "Well I guess I'll do some trail riding with Goldie," I told
said.
     And with that off we went. We rode over to the new outdoor
large arena, where I had set up my jumps, after I'd first set
them up in the old outdoor arena. The soil in the new area was
about 3 feet of soft soil. It had compressed some over the winter
months but not enough for me to yet jump Goldie over the fences.
I walked her up and down and around the jumps to tamp down the
soil more. I could see I would have to do this quite a few more
times before it would be packed down enough to be safe for
jumping.

     "Okay girl, I guess for now that will do, so let's go on the
trail."
     We headed down towards the north valley, but I decided to go
left into the range where the herd was, and where I had found
Goldie. There is a nice flat trail about a half mile long on this
range. Goldie is voice trained, so I said to her, "Slow canter,"
and she was real good today, and was quite content to do a very
nice slow canter, often she will want to go from a canter into a
gallop, but she was very happy to keep it a slow canter. We spent
some time on that range enjoying and taking it easy, coming back
a different way that the way we started.
     By this time the sun was indeed coming out, the clouds
rolling away, and the weather man was very correct this day. It
was about 1 p.m. and was getting lovely and warm, about 75
degrees on the F scale, 23 on the C scale. They had said it was
to reach that temperature.
     It was a beautiful day to do our favorite long "Fox trail"
and so through the first valley we went, but I needed to still
slowly strengthen Goldie out so I did the very steep hill close
to that valley. It is perhaps the steepest hill on the Ranch that
has a trail cut out on it. Very few riders and horses attempt
going up it, for your horse has to be very athletic, and 99 per
cent of the Ranch horses are not that well conditioned and
athletic to tackle such a steep trail. Although it is not but a
hundred yards or so in length, its steep slope is such that no
riders coming to trail ride are ever interested in going up it. I
only do it as a strengthening exercise for Goldie. After getting
to the top I gave Goldie a ten minute eating break of the now
nice thick grass, then on our way into the next valley we moved.

     As we wound up and down the trail it was so wonderful to
feel the warmth of the sun, the quite of the country, the birds
singing away, a hawk or two floating above on the flow of the
air, gliding smoothly, now and again a white-tail deer jumping
over a fence making it look so effortless as it did so. I praised
the Lord for life, for strength, for all that I have, to be able
to ride the dream horse of my childhood, out in this breathtaking
scenery in the foothills to the mighty Canadian Rockies.

     As we approached closer and closer to what I call the "the
trail race track" Goldie was getting more and more excited, and
was ready to fly if I would only allow her, and at the right
spot, I told her she could go, and go she did, loving every
second of this quarter mile track, as she went into overdrive.

     We came back the usual way, which is a little longer way
than the trail out, it's the trail where we do the "big little
dipper" and Goldie knows exactly where it is that we turn to the
left and swoop down and up as fast as she wants to take it, and
she loves to take it fast. Coming up the other side, looking
ahead I could see that a tree of about one foot in thickness was
down across the trail. It was far enough away that I could have
stopped Goldie from her run, but it was a branchless tree trunk,
about one foot off the ground, and posed no hazard from spiky
branches. I know my horse, I know her ability, and her fine
remembering brain. We had not "jumped" since last fall, yet I
knew at my command she would have no problem. As we got to the
right distance from the tree trunk, I said, "jump" and Goldie
responded with an effortless jump over the fallen tree. It was
obviously a tree that had come down in the last two weeks as it
was not there two weeks ago when I took Goldie over the same
trail.

     Now for you younger ones or less experienced riders, I want
you to remember that a lot of the things I do with Goldie, you
should not try, not unless you are a very experienced rider and
you fully know your horse, its ability, and that you and your
horse are very close to each other as in a strong bond. You must
always remember horse riding can be a dangerous sport, and you
always need to know your limitations and your horses limitation,
not putting yourself and your horse in silly situations that
neither of you have the ability to safely come through. For
starters, jumping in a "western" saddle is not the thing to do,
it is not designed for jumping. This was a relatively small jump
and I knew I was able to handle it in a western saddle, but
anything higher would have been reckless of me to ever have
tried, and I would not have, I would have pulled Goldie up and
walked over, or around the tree trunk.

     We both enjoyed the rest of the ride home, in a lazy stroll-
along walk, under warm sunny skies.

     Getting back to the barn, I met a fellow by the name of
Ron, who was working on the siding of the new "tack shop" that
Betty was having built. I found out he was the Ron that I had
heard about, who before Dan, had been in charge of the trail
riding side of the Ranch. A nice guy, who now had his own
"boarding" barn, he and his wife both ran it, and it was on the
highway I take to come out to the Ranch. He has a heated barn in
the winter time. He told me about some of the people you can
never please, no matter what you do or how good a place you run.
I said, yes, there are always some like that, that cannot be
pleased, and so it's better to have them leave and take their
constant criticism to some other place. He told me about those
who also are so thankful and pleased, and are always telling you
that you run a nice cared for horse boarding barn.

     The weather man was correct, the dark clouds came in and
before long down came the rain to the noise of some thunder. Ron
could no longer keep working (being outside work he was doing);
he packed things away; we talked for a little while about the
place he has, and then was off home.

     Even with the rain coming down, Goldie was glad to be set
free to join her buddies on the range. I mucked out the barn
some, and with that I packed up my things and in the rain drove
home. But most of the day was wonderful warm sunshine. I thanked
the Lord I had had a great day with my golden Palomino.

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



To be continued
     

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