WRANGLING ON THE RANGE #29
It was a beautiful sunny and warm week from Sunday to
Friday. I arrived at the Ranch about 2 pm but was not needed till
4 pm for a guided trail ride. It was a family of 5. I took them
on the interesting side of "fox trail" - a good variety of open
area and nice tree line trail. I explained the history of the
Ranch, and answered questions they had. Arriving back I
was putting Goldie into her box stall.
"Keith," called Bob, "a gentleman wants to speak to you."
It was the father of the family I'd just taken out.
"That was one super trail ride," he said as he put his hand
out to shake my hand, and in so doing deposited a $20 bill in it.
"Well thank you indeed," I responded.
"We'll certainly be back," he said as he and his family
It is nice to have such people, we try to be friendly and
make their trail ride interesting whether or not any "tips" come
The Ranch owner had left the big tractor and harrows down at the
outdoor arena so Betty's staff could harrow the place from time
to time. I asked Tom to show me how to run the tractor, which he
immediately did. It was pretty straight-forward, and so off I went with
it into the arena. It did a nice job, as many commented the next day,
when the 4th camp started up.
The 10 children in the pony group this week were outstanding.
They did exceptionally well on Monday, with all the basic teaching.
There were no evening trail rides so had the time off. Just relaxed
in the main, but did go into the local town to get hay cubes and
sweet-feed for Godlie, the sweet-feed being the basic for the special
mash I make for my horse. John the farrier dropped by, so with
Paul there also, we visited for an hour.
Tuesday and photo day was lovely and warm with blue skies,
not many clouds in sight.
For the last half of the morning Kate, two other helpers, and I,
went to the outdoor arena and practiced the pony dance for
Friday. The afternoon was spent on the trail with lots of
trotting, which our exceptional groups of 8 to 10 year olds
really enjoyed, well at first they did. It was a little too long
for the second day, so had to stop and let the children take
their legs out of the stirrups and stretch them. One little girl
got stomach upset so had to walk the rest of the way back to the
That evening Paul wanted me to go with him as he rode a mare
that had bucked him off (one of the 20 or so mares from the Ranch
that he had broken 12 months or so back). She had been going real
well over the last year, as many times as Paul rode her, which
was not every day or every week even. Whatever it was, she just
up and bucked out on the trail. We never got out of the round
pen, Paul's confidence, as he put it, was "zero" - I trotted
Goldie around in both directions as the mare Paul was on
followed. So much of today's breaking is done with "flapping"
things around a horse, which to me only teaches them to be jumpy.
Paul was unsure about her being okay if he flapped her with his
right leg on getting up. I said, "Well why don't you just get up
and do no flapping." I was surprised he did what I said, for it
seems Paul will listen to anyone about horses but me. He's a nice
guy and we get along fine, but I'm not the "in fellow" with
"modern" breaking and training. So he did what I suggested and it
worked real well. And so it was also the next evening when he
worked that mare.
I had forgotten "salt blocks" when in town the previous
evening, so off I went again. The boys are okay young men but do
lack the mature or better put, the "real caring" attitude at
times, when it comes to horses. The herd had been without salt
blocks for two or three weeks. Bob told me that the owner
usually supplied them. I told Bob I would not bother the owner but just
go and get some. They are not expensive. I bought 6 for $40. When
I put them out, it was like bees around a bee hive, and was so
all week. Horses worked more, will need to lick salt blocks more, it
is just that simple.
To finish the evening off I took the Quad and went cutting
tree branches down on the "family trail" as we call it, the one
we always use for the Friday "family ride" end of the day and
week of the camp.
Wednesday was very warm - 85-90 F. The morning was trail
ride time for the pony group. We were heading back via the new
large "tire" arenas, the largest has my "jumps" set up for Goldie.
"Keith, would you demonstrate jumping on Goldie for the
children," Kate asked.
"Well, I can do the first two low jumps. The Western saddle
is not made to jump in, the English close-contact (now called) or
jumping saddle is designed for jumping horses. But I'll do the
first two jumps for everyone."
Kate had the children and their ponies to one side, and had
them shouting, "Go Godlie go, go Goldie go." And she took the
first two jumps as easy as pie. It was fun to see them all liking
all this horse and pony stuff.
After lunch I showed the children how I clench the nails in
Goldie's shoes as they needed to be tightened up. The special
nail clenchers for farriers are used. I told the children I did
all the working on my horse's feet, all except nailing on the
shoes, which I prefer to leave to the people doing that job all
the time, as it is a skill of its own. Then we were off to the
out door arena to practice our trotting races for Friday.
That evening I watched the wonderful horse movie "Dreamer."
It was made about 4 or 5 years ago, staring a little 6 or 7 year
old Dakota Fanning, as well as Kurt Russell and Kirs
Kristofferson and Elizabeth Shue. It's a great family movie,
especially if you are a horse lover. It is a story based upon the
true life of a race horse called "Mariah's Storm" - a mare that
fractured her cannon bone but was saved form being put down by
some loving and determined people. No one gave her much chance to
ever race again, but she did. Won 10 out of 16 starts, and went
on to give birth to a colt that became a Europe champion. It is a
super movie, get it if you can, a production by DreamWorks
An inspiring verse, repeated a few times in the movie by
"You are a great champion,
When you ran the ground shook,
The sky opened and mere mortals parted.
Part of the way to victory,
Where you'll meet me in the winners circle,
I'll put a blanket of flowers on your back."
An inspiring story indeed. The "specials" on the DVD are
most interesting also. As one of the producers noted in asking
questions at racing stables, some horses really do feel the race
track, love to race. I know that's true for Goldie does when I
open her up (which I have not done for a few weeks now).
It was a fine day and Goldie likes opening and closing all
these gates with her nose, and side stepping when I need her to.
Thursday and it was practice time for the "pony dance"
routine, which the children did real well. Then out on the
trail once more, a trail the kids had not been on before. We practiced
the pony dance when we were back. After lunch it was time to practice
the trotting races for the Friday show. Did a short trail, then back
to the barn where we taught the children how to un-saddle and brush
their pony and then saddle up. Of course lots of help given as they
had never done this before.
The evening was once more for me to harrow the arena ready
for show time on Friday.
Friday. All went very smoothly. A hot hot summer day, but
camp people and parents had a wonderful time. I did my usual Roy
Rogers act at noon and Goldie all dressed up in her silver saddle
and bridle, as Trigger. The show went without hitch, and the
family ride like a well oiled machine.
Ah, all in all, it was a great week.
Next camp we shall have 18 young ladies (14-18 years old) in
what is called "Cool School" - they live out at the Ranch and
come to learn to be leaders. Betty, Kate, Jane (23 year old gal
whose been away in Europe and the USA playing Basketball - she's
a star player at 6 feet 2 inches), and Sheena (Paul's cousin
whose with us all summer) will also live out at the Ranch to
guide and supervise these young ladies. Should be an interesting
week coming up.
To be continued