WRANGLING ON THE RANGE #57
It was a sunny November 8th of 2009. I arrived at the Ranch
at 12 noon. Went to the back corral and Goldie looked over
Applejack's bum when she heard my voice. I brought her in to barn
"B" and someone had clean and ... it just looked different, all
my tack had been moved into just one stall. Some wood chippings
had been put down. I thought Betty and crew had been doing some
"spring cleaning" in the fall of the year. Later when Betty arrived I found
out it was so but for a specific reason.
There was a couple coming for a guided 1 pm ride. I gave
Goldie her mash, brushed and saddled her. I still had a little
spare time before 1 pm, so I trimmed up her from hoofs. I had
removed her shoes, all four of them the week before. Now it was
time to trim. Just had time to do that but not to rasp them nice
and neat. But before I left the Ranch I did rasp them clean and neat.
The 1 pm couple had arrived. We were out on the trail is
short order as they say. The couple were from the city but only
very recently. Josh was from Northern Ontario and Sarah from
Southern Ontario, they had met in London, Ontario in University.
Josh was an Electro Engineer and Sarah a Photographer. Josh had been
transferred by his company to this area, a transfer at his request
he told me.
Josh was riding "Dopey" (still do not know how he got that
name). Sarah was riding "Forest." It was one of those, "I don't
think I want to do this today" moods that Forest was in. Moreen
(our shorter Moreen) had trouble getting his bridal on. I
finally dismounted from Goldie and did it for her, after a few
tries, saying to Moreen and Sandi, "When did he start to act
like this, he's usually very good." They did not answer.
We got just below the barn area when Forest stopped. He did
not want to go any further. I tried to instruct Sarah to get
forceful, kick with her heels, hard, just showing him you were in
charge. She did her best, and he turned this way and that way but
ended up in the same spot. I did not have my crop with me to tap
him on the backside. Sarah was getting frustrated and asking if
there was not a better horse she could ride. I pulled up along
side and took hold of Forest's halter and pulled him along for a
while until we were far enough away from the barn area, then he
was okay and walked along behind, albeit very slow. It was not
Forest's day today. But he did finally say "Well I guess I'll
come along, but don't expect a fast walk, just not really into
We talked about their jobs, and how long they had been in
here, and where they were living. Josh had been here since
May. His company paid for a hotel for a month until he found a
place for himself and Sarah, then Sarah came out. Josh asked the
pretty common questions about the Ranch and the horses, and
riding. He asked where I was from originally, and that led to
questions about the difference between English riding and Western
riding. It was an interesting conversation ride, and being so,
one hour goes by very quickly and before you know it you are back
at the barn. Along the trail I did notice there were some tree
branches that needed to be cut away and even some small thin
trees, as they were now leaning over the trail. I would go back I
though and cut them down.
Back at barn "B" Betty was just finishing up with a lesson
ride for a young girl. She then told me about the cleaning she
and others had done. During the week the local "agricultural
authorities" had come to the boys and asked if they were
interesting in a "research project" - getting paid for it of
course. They had this de-worm medicine that was marked for cows
but not specifically marked for horses. They wanted
about 20 horses to try this stuff on. They would take blood
samples etc. before administering the medicine, and over a week
bring them in from the range and take blood samples etc. a few
more times. The 20 or so horse had been brought into barn "B" -
hence because they had been left in for a few days, the barn was
a mess with the usual that horses do. So it was a huge clean job
Betty and her helpers had to do to clean the barn up for the
week-end lessons. All my tack for Goldie had been moved to the
far end of the barn, and Betty had moved it back after the
cleaning was done, which accounted for my tack ending up in one
stall and not two, as it had been before.
I did get my axe and I did head for the trail to cut down
those trees and branches. It was good exercise for sure. I did
get it all done and was pleased that once more the valley trail
was nice and clear. It is the first half trail of the long "fox
trail" that leads to what I call "the race track" - it is my
favorite trail of all the trails on the Ranch.
Arriving back, I saw the new Palomino that Tom had bought at
the auction. It was the one of 6 others that had got a cold,
which was now cleared up. But the poor thing looked thin and just
not fattening up at all. I went and filled up with sweet feed (I
use for Goldie's mash) one of those red fence hanging buckets.
The horse immediately came over and started to eat it.
Inside the barn I walked over to Sandi (the boys were now
long gone somewhere, not in sight).
"Sandi, here is a $20 bill, I'd like you to go to town and buy a
bad of sweet-feed, and make sure that Palomino get at least one
bucket a day."
"Keith, the owner of the Ranch told me to feed it two buckets of
oats a day. I really could not do anything."
"Okay, I understand. But the horse is too thin and oats will
never fatten it up. Oats is like a chocolate bar, it is great for
race horses, but general fattening ... just about useless."
"I know," Sandi replied, "that horse is so thin and its not
"Oats and hay by themselves will not do it. Sweet feed has
all kinds of other things that are there for the purpose of
getting and keeping weight on a horse," I continued to say.
"And Tom paid a lot of money for that horse, the bidding
just kept going and going," Sandi informed me, without telling me
the amount of money tom paid, and I did not ask.
I went back to barn "B" and thought about it all. I did not
want to get Sandi involved. So I sat down and wrote Tom a short
note, which said, "Tom. That Palomino across the road needs 1 or
2 buckets of sweet feed a day, and probably some hay cubes as
well, if it is going to fatten up. I will pay for both, just give me the
bill at the end of the month, Keith"
I gave the note to Sandi and asked her to pass it on to Tom.
I have done what needs to be done, and it is now up to Tom to see
the sense of it, and follow through, even above what his Dad had
told Sandi to do. I find the Ranch family are not anywhere close to
being the knowledgable guy that Dan was, when it comes to
knowing how to care for horses that are not up to par. Dan was
"in the know" as surely as good horse people should be; he kept
the heard in great physical form and knew what to do to get new
thin horses up to snuff as they say. The Ranch family here are not
in that area, close to being what old Dan was when he was in charge
of the Riding Ranch.
So time will tell, if the boys follow through with my suggestion.
It will cost them nothing, as I've offered to pay for the two special feeds.
But pride can get in the way at times, it can hold people back from
moving in the right direction. As time went on I never saw that palomino
again, have no clue what happened to it. Only three things could have happened, they sold it or it died or it went to the meat factory. Whatever
I have never seen it since.
I was not yet through with being some upset today. Sandi was
pushing the horses out from the corral to the range. This young
black horse was standing there, while all the others had moved on
out down the alley-way of the corral system to the road leading
to the range. I walked over to the black to move him along. The
horse could not walk. He had trouble on at least three of his
legs. Sandi was at the bottom of the corral. I shouted to her,
"Sandi, you have a lame horse here, do you know."
"Yes, Bob has looked at him."
By now we are walking towards each other. "They called the
vet in town. He said it was a sprained ankle," Sandi informed
I had the horse haltered. I looked at Sandi, moved the horse
forward a few steps. "Do you see that?" I asked her. "The horse
can not walk on its front legs, just about all its legs are bad,
it's not just a sprained ankle. What can a vet do over the
phone?" I was by now getting some upset. What with the new
Palomino looking like a bag of bones and now this horse hardly
being able to walk, I was upset. I walked away saying, "I think
at times we have some amateurs running this place. Well Sandi
it's not your doing. You have a good week."
"And you also Keith," Sandi answered.
With that I look my leave and headed back for a week in the
city teaching music, and working on this Website.
We'll see what another week brings when I get out to the
Ranch next Sunday, if not before.