WRANGLING ON THE RANGE #47
The phone rang about 6 pm on Friday evening, it was Betty.
"Hi Keith, I have a request of you. ON Sunday there is
coming out to the Ranch a couple, not too long living in Canada,
an English couple, and they would like a 3 hour teaching lesson.
They are brand new to horse riding, never done it before. Would
you please be available to teach them?"
"Why, yes of course Betty. I will be at the Ranch anyway on
"Oh that will be terrific and now I can contact some others
to help me with the pony children that are coming for lessons."
"Yes, you can count on me, all being well, to teach that
couple. I'll be there."
It was a sunny day on Sunday, and warmer than the weather
people had predicted. It was very pleasant at the Ranch, no wind,
blue skies, just about cloudless. I arrived at 11 am. Dave, the
friend of Betty, who helps us with things at times, was already
busy with the water hose, wetting down the indoor arena in barn
"B". We chatted for a while, as Goldie was eating her mash.
Kate was also already at the Ranch.
"Hi Kate," I said, "well ... I thinks it's about time, you
rode Goldie. I'm away in Branson for two week-ends and I think
you should ride and exercise my horse. You know you and Betty are
the only ones I would ever let ride my horse."
Kate smiled, and said, "Sure, I'll love to."
I've know for a while, maybe at least a year, she had been
hoping I would one day let her ride Goldie.
"Okay them, first let me shown you how I mix her mash." And
so I went through the somewhat 4 stages of the stuff I put into
her basic sweet-feed.
"Now I must tell you about one idiosyncrasy she has. Goldie
has learnt that if she 'flips up her bit,' so the shank of the bit
is sticking up in the air, you have no control over her, and if
she is worked up some, and wanting to gallop .... well you have
to immediately push the reins forward, drop your hands and so
drop and pull back the shanks of the bit down, to their correct
position. Somehow over the 4 years I've had her, she has learnt
this little trick, without any teaching from me."
I continued, "Let's now go to the round pen outdoors." I had
Kate work Goldie in a circle, trotting and loping or cantering.
"She is voice trained Kate," I told her. "Say 'trot' or
'canter,' maybe just a slight touch with the heels and she will
move into either one for you."
Kate practiced for 10 minutes in the round pen.
"Okay, take her part way on the flat trail up along the East
of the barn, and do a little trotting and a slow canter."
Kate did so, and she was back after about 15 minutes.
"Now," I said, "let's go into barn 'A' and I'll show you
the box stall I keep her in when working out of that barn."
In the box stall I showed her how to unhook the roping reins
from the bit and hang them over the saddle horn and down through
the left stirrup. I reminded her that Goldie pushes out her belly
when cinching and so you have to cinch up three times before its
"Now mount up here in the box stall," I instructed
Kate, "I want you to take her out and into the indoor arena.
When going through the box stall door and the gate into the
arena, just tell her to 'push' and she will push both door and
gate open with the nose."
She followed my instructions and now her and Goldie were
in the arena.
"When you turn right in neck-reining, put your right heel
back to her flanks. When you turn left, put your left heel back
to her flanks. Many do not teach turning like that, but I've always
taught neck-rein turning that way. It's all what you teach the
horse, they know no difference. They get used to what you do,
simple as that. And that is the way Goldie is trained."
"Oh wow, Keith, now that is exactly how I do it, we ride the
same I guess. And you must have the same leg length as I do, the
stirrups are the right length for me."
"They are, I can see that," I replied, "I have short legs
but a long body for my height. I can sit down with a 6'4" guy and
I'm as long in the body as he is. It is his legs that have way
longer bones than mine.
Time was up to let Kate get used to the feel of Goldie. The
couple for a 3 hour lesson had arrived. It was 1 pm.
The couple's names were Jack and Mandi. Only arrived in
Canada in July. He's working for the City as an large
equipment machinist. He had been to Canada before and taken the
Canadian courses and sat the Canadian exams, so it was relatively
easy for him to be hired by the city, and become Canadian
citizens if they would like to be, in time that is.
So, it was back to basics. I showed them how to brush their
horses. We went over the parts of the saddle. Showed them the
one, two, three, step of saddling and unsaddling. Then it was
time to lead the horses over to barn "B" and so the next teaching
was "how to lead via the lead rope of the halter," keeping the
horse in its space and you in your space.
In barn "B" I had them take the saddle off and put back on a
number of times. They were both very fast learners, and were,
after a couple of tries, able to tighten up the cinch with the
special knot we use at this Ranch.
Now it was bit and bridle time. Took it slow and distinct,
especially the hand and fingers of the left hand, holding the bit
correctly to insert into the hourse's mouth. I told them about
the "bars" of the lower jaw of a horse, with a space between the
front teeth and the back grinding teeth. With the thumb and
finger, if needed, you wiggle on the bars and the horse will open
its mouth. I told them some horse are so good that as soon as the
bit comes close to their lips, they open their mouth to receive
I had them do this bridling a number of times, and once more
they were as quick as lightning to catch on how to do it.
I had them lead their horses to the outdoor round pen just
outside barn "B" and after showing them the correct length for a
stirrup, I taught them how to mount and dismount. And that, we
then practiced a few times. Once up in the saddle, the
instructions were on how to sit correctly in the "western" saddle
as opposed to the English saddle. Then it was time for correct
holding of the reins, which is "English style" but for a looser
rein on the Western cowboy horse. Instructions were then given on
moving forward, stopping and turning. All was going super well,
so to the indoor arena in barn "B" we went. Jack and Mandi had
much more room, with the barrels here and there, and so could do
a lot of turning around and in and out of the barrels.
We were down to the last hour of instruction and that hour
was out on a trail ride. Off we set, the three of us, of course
I'm on Goldie. It was a basic walk trail ride. They seemed to
enjoy it. While somewhat talkative, if I asked questions about
themselves and family etc. they were otherwise a quiet couple, so
I was not sure how they were liking it all.
Back at the main barn "A" I said goodbye to them. They had
not yet paid Betty for the lesson, so I point out where she could
be found. After they had departed and Betty finished with her
teaching instruction for two 10 year old girls, she came to me
"Keith, that couple were absolutely delighted, they kept telling
me more than once, how excellent your instruction was; they were
thrilled to bits, and they said they will certainly be back."
"That is nice to know, because I had a hard time reading
them, though they smiled when they left me, I was not sure how
much they liked it all."
"Well I can tell you they were extremely pleased, very much
so. And so were the parents with Kate and the little children
she was teaching."
"Yes, they would be, for you know, I work with Kate in the
summer camp with the pony group, as you are aware, and I know
Kate is an excellent teacher. There are only two person I would
let ride Goldie and that is yourself and Kate."
"Well thank you Keith," Betty responded.
There was a 4 pm trail ride of 20 or so persons. I led the
way on Goldie. I took them on my favorite trail, down through the
valley, up and around, trailing into the trees, back into the
valley and home. All had a wonderful ride. The three young girls
behind me on their ponies were having a lots of laughs and as
they say "having a ball."
It was time to head home, and get ready for the Feast day of
Atonement coming at sunset that evening. A very fine and
rewarding day it was at the Ranch. The horses were turned out on
the range, and I was late getting Goldie turned out so she had to
trot down the road to the range all by herself. I looked at her,
just beauty in motion, with her lovely form and shape, white mane
and tail blowing freely as she moved. Once more I said a silent
"thank you" to the Lord for having such a great horse as Goldie -
she is indeed a "Final Tough" as her registered name is.
To be continued after the Feast of Tabernacles, this year, God
willing in Branson, USA, where I'll take in the Roy Rogers Museum.