WRANGLING ON THE RANGE #26
It was a week with off and on rain for the second camp (July
6th to 10th inclusive) of 8 camps this summer for the kids run by
Betty and her staff at the Ranch. Friday did turn out to be sunny and
warm for the kids to do their horse and pony program for their parents, relatives and friends.
Monday, was the usual morning for Betty to do her
introduction to the children (we had 52 this week) on safety
around the horses. Very important instruction on how horses think
and act as a herd animal, who are always watching out for strange
and unexpected things to jump on them and eat them up. Many basic
teachings are explained by Betty on horsemanship, the ground
rules shall we say.
I know Betty is constantly up-tight on safety until the camp has
ended on late Friday afternoon. She's been part of this camp (and
owner in charge for the past 7 years) for 35 years, but still is
very concerned for safety, and rightly so, horses, large or small
are live animals with much strength, and we have to know how to
act at all times around them.
I and a young lady called Kate are in charge of the "pony
group" - youngsters ages 8 to 10. We had 11 of them this last
week. We first teach them to lead their pony correctly. It was a
very good group as most of them had rode before. By the afternoon
we were doing things with them and their pony that usually are
not done till Wednesday. All inside work, but a super fast
learning group of kids. I did not ride Goldie that day.
Tuesday. The first thing in the morning work is to bring all
the children out on their horse or pony and Betty takes their
photo. She puts it in a nice frame, all part of the cost of being
in the camp.
In the afternoon Kate and I (on Goldie today) took the kids
on a trial ride. One horse slipped and the young girl slowly came
off, landing in the tall grass, un-hurt, but she did cry some,
yet soon brave enough to get back up and continue to ride.
All in the camp, instructors as well, MUST wear safety helmets,
certified by the horse riding world, not bike helmets etc. but
certified for riding horses.
Paul, who is Betty's full/part time worker got bucked off
today. For whatever reason Paul usually gets bucked off a horse
at least once every summer. This time it was one of the mares he
had broken last fall and had rode without any hint of trouble,
until today. He was out with his group, the "advanced" group and
out of the blue, according to him, his horse blew up, and he was
on the ground. As he says, these mares are part of the old mares
that were of the herd of the PMU days (when the Ranch had 600
mares for "pregnant mare urine" that was used in the medical
world - this is where the Ranch really made its money for
decades, not on the trail riding side). These mares were around
people but were just a "number" in the wheel, and at times not
treated with much respect or care. So with the 22 Paul had been
paid to break to ride by the owner, it is only natural that one
or two will "blow up" unexpectedly. I remember in my younger days
(I was about 19) in Saskatoon, this happen to me, on a gelding
that was not mistreated in any way, easy to break and went along just
fine, until one day, and out of the blue started to buck with me,
and I was on the ground looking up. I got back up and that horse
never bucked again on me or anyone, actually became one of the
most dependable trail riding horses for beginners that we had in
the stable. You go figure, I have no answer.
That evening, after the horses were turned out on the grass
near the barn, I saw Goldie with her buddy laying out in the sun.
I walked over and she knew I was not there to take her in, so
continued to lay stretched out. I sat by her head, stroking her nose,
then also lay down and had a ten minute cat-nap with her. Someone
should have been there to take a photo of the three of us laying
about in the sun. I also have a "connection" with her friend, so it was
the three Musketeers in the sun.
Wednesday. We had a morning trail ride - did some trotting
with the pony group, which of course they thought was super
great. Then came the rain and we headed back to the barn, but
arrived thoroughly soaked to the bones. We lit up the wood fire
in the covered out-door picnic area and dried off. It rained all
afternoon so had to work with the kids in the indoor arena in
barn "b" while two of the other groups worked in the main barn,
and the fourth group did inside horse knowledge work.
Thursday. It was a good day overall for all four groups but
did rain off and on. It was hard trying to teach the groups in
the outdoor arena between the rain, as it was by now very muddy,
but it had to be done so the children could practice their show
routine for Friday.
At 7 p.m. we had a Girl-guide group of about 12 come for a
trail ride. Such groups usually have a schedule, so they were
coming no matter what the weather (except of course for storms),
and after 15 minutes into the ride, yes it started to rain, and
continued to rain the rest of the ride all the way home, about 45
minutes. Most had rain jackets on but a few did not, only
sweaters, for a reason I do not know.
Friday. The sun came out and it warmed up to being more like
summer weather. The four groups went down to the outside arena to
practice their show for the afternoon. I was busy getting the
sound equipment set up for my Roy Rogers show at noon. The
parents come out at noon and eat with the kids in the picnic area
and I'm dressed up in my fancy Roy Rogers cowboy clothes. I'd had
some throat troubles during the week and some laryngitis, but I'd
prayed the Lord would give me a voice to sing, and He did.
Goldie was already decked out in her silver tack saddle and
bridle and bit, looking great. At 1 p.m. it was off to the
outdoor arena and on with the show. For a muddy underfooting all
went extremely well. The show over, and back to the main barn,
where visiting time for children and parents with their horse or
pony went nice and smooth (photo time again for parents and
children), then it was "family trail ride time." It was a nice
sunny 45 minute ride, and back to where we started. Goldie was on
her best behavor this week, like, "Oh, well back into this summer
camp stuff, I know what to do, walk slow, but be on my guard for
any fast work if needed in certain situations."
The second summer camp was over; all had a great time, even
with the rainy days we had. It was "turn out the horses" and
after a few other chores that go with having horses, I was
heading back home for a nice Sabbath days rest. Sunday I will go
to the last day of the Stampede Rodeo Show. They say it is supposed to
be sunny and about 80 F. I will enjoy a change of place and a
look at all the exhibitions, entertainment, brass bands, and fun
stuff. Will I get to the "grand stand entertainment and fire
works" maybe and maybe not, probably not as I've got to be up and
going for Monday and the third camp at the Ranch.
To be continued