WRANGLING ON THE RANGE #46
It was raining this Sunday morning, and sure looked like it
was a washout for the Ranch, but at noon the skies opened up to
the sun, the rain moved out, and it was a go for me to be at the
It was 2:15 when I arrived and Betty and some helpers were
just finishing up with the little children in their pony lesson
"Well Keith," Betty said, "little Rowdy pony has had two
strokes in the last two days. Friday he was fine as Dave and I
took three ponies for a lead around at a private function.
Yesterday here at the Ranch little Rowdy fell down, shaking some.
He got up and seemed to be okay. Earlier today I was leading him
and he pulled back some and fell again. The little children were
of course upset."
"Yes, it sure sounds like a type of stroke he had," I
"He is old and some horses or ponies will come down with
different ailments, then some live out their lives well, until
they just lay down and die," Betty said.
"So true, you've seen it all over the years. You had a few
old ponies die at your ranch last year, and you told me they just
found a nice spot in the sun and lay down and died."
"Yes .... I guess little Rowdy is now unpredictable. It
would be terrible to have him fall like that with a child on
him," was Diane's continued comment.
"Indeed so ... you'll just have to let him have his
retirement at your ranch. He's been a super good faithful pony
over the years," I replied.
"He sure has been, he's been so good and dependable."
"Yes, you nor I have ever seen this happen to him before, so
it is time for him to retire." And with that sentence from me, we
moved on to unsaddling a few of the other ponies that stay at the
I gave Goldie her mash and could of course not leave the
little ponies out as they longingly looked at me, as if to say,
"And please do not forget us, we sure would like some also." So
they had their wish and dug in to eating with a smile on their
face, if they could smile that is.
I walked over to the main barn and found that there was to
be a 4 pm ride - two couples, and a mother and her two children,
a boy and a girl about 9 or 10 years of age.
The little girl was riding "Sunshine" - a light colored
palomino pony, and the boy was put on "Cookie" - a black and
white paint or pinto pony. The Mom was on Applejack. One couple
never came, so at 4:20 the five riders and I set out.
I soon asked, "How many of you are here for the first time?"
The Mom said she had been out to the Ranch many times when she
was a teenager (she was probably in her early 30s now), and had
great fun, she remembered it well. She went on to say she was
just getting back into riding after hurting her back. I asked how
that happened, and she said it was through lifting things too
heavy, and so her back finally gave out, as well as having three
children. The youngest, a little girl of 5 years was with her Dad
back at the barn.
"Is that your horse," she asked me.
"Yes, this is my horse," I answered.
"Very nice she is. What breed and what is her name?"
"She is a registered Palomino Quarter horse, and her name is
... well I call her Goldie. Her registered name is 'Final Touch.'"
"Oh indeed so," she said with a smile.
As we rode along you could tell this Mom knew about horses
and knew how to ride. She was instructing her children as we
moved down the trail. I've forgotten now how we got on to the
subject of holidaying in the "Crows Nest Pass" down in southwest
Alberta. She told us all about the wonderful sights and historic
things to see, like one of the once upon a time large coal mines.
Sometime in the past this fellow who worked in that mine told the
authorities that there was a gas smell, and sooner or later there
would be a disaster. He left the mine for some time doing other
things, but then came back. They very first day back, his
prediction came true, there was an explosion from natural gas. He
and dozens of others were killed. Apparently they have "plaques"
on the wall of the mine (that is only now a tourist attraction -
no longer a working mine) to honor the men who have lost their
lives in various mines across Canada.
The Mom was quite a talkative lady, and she talked to the
couple at the back, so I was happy she was talkative.
Well about half way around, no actually more than that, we
were heading back, thankfully, for her boy was not happy. He
began to moan and say he was cold. I could indeed see his hands
were bluish in color, and it was not a cold day, the sun was
shining, but he said he was cold. His Mom tried different things
to cheer him up, but they all failed. He was moaning again,
saying he did not like this.
"You don't like riding a pony?" she asked him.
"No, I do not want to ride a horse ever again," he answered.
"We are not far from the barn, just stop moaning, and okay,
you do not have to ride a horse again. Your sister and I will
have more money for the two of us to ride horses." And with that
she asked her daughter if she was enjoying it, and with a big
smile the daughter replied she was indeed.
"You know," I injected my thoughts, "horse or pony riding is
not for everyone."
"Yes, that is true," the Mom agreed.
"I once was asked to learn how to cross-country ski. I found
that even on the flat I could not move more than three steps and
my legs were as far apart as the walls of the Grand Canyon. I
said to my friends, 'Forget this, I'm really not interested in
learning how to ski.'"
The three adults and the children got a big laugh out of my
We did finally get back to the barn, not any too soon I
might add, that little boy was not a happy camper. About 1/4 mile
from the barn his Mom finally said with a no nonsense harsh tone
of voice, "If you do not stop moaning right now, I will make you
get off and you can walk your pony back the rest of the way
It did the trick, he stopped his complaining, at least
All but that little boy had a great time, and were
appreciative. The Mom was happy, she and her daughter enjoyed,
although she could not make Applejack do anything but follow her
son's pony. I told her that that was Applejack and next time she
would know NOT to be given him. She readily agreed but was happy
that at least one of her children enjoyed horse riding. As I said
to her, you have to give them a try at it, to know or not know if
they will like horse riding.
It was now 5:20 pm - time to unsaddle Goldie, and all the
others being used today. Tom was there when we got back
from the trail ride. Oh yes, Goldie was super good, did not have
to work hard at all today.
In leaving I said to Tom, "I thought you had weaned that
little baby from its Mom the other day." That's the mare they
bought from the Auction and did not know, was not told, it was
going to have a baby, the horse has a round stomach and looks
"Oh, we are taking both of them to the Auction to sell," Tom
"The mare is not good for you?" I inquired. And with a smile
on his face and shaking his head, said, "No, we found out it
was only halter broke for leading but a big mess to do anything
else with, not worth our time or effort."
"I can understand that, some are not worth taking the
trouble to break or train for the public riding barn. You have
your nice looking young ones (the 2 and 1/2 year ones)."
"Yes, we have 16 of them, and that is our work over the
"I know the old ones need to be retired and have lots of new
"Yes, and we will work on that," Tom replied, and added,
"thanks Keith for taking out that ride."
"No problem Tom, have a good week and I'll see you Friday."
As I drove back to the city, the farmers were busy in the
fields bringing in their hay stock. The landscape is now a
mixture of green/brown grass, some nice green hay fields still
being harvested, and the yellow/red fall leaves on the trees,
with the evergreen ones still giving us some fine green color in
the foothills. And with the rain last night, and colder in the
mountains, we have a few of the Canadian Rockies with a flow of
white snow drifting down their sides. I guess the skiers will be
looking forward to their down-hill runs and cross-country
trailing. For me, I'll stick to horse riding, in the summer and
winter, my legs are in better balance on a horse.
To be continued