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Wrangling on the Range #83

Children's horse camp 2010 #2




     Sunday before the camp. I arrived to find Goldie was limping -
swollen on the outside of the cannon bone of right leg. It was
from the "mud fever" she had contracted a week before from all the
mud all over the Ranch from all the rain we'd had. She had had a
swollen fetlock from the mud fever (a breaking of the skin and
infection due to the hardening of mud which can then tear the skin) 
and it had now spread up into the cannon bone.
     I gave her some "bute" which is like an aspirin to us. And had
to go to the vet to get some special ointment to rub on the
swelling. Applied it for 3 or 4 days, twice a day, morning and
evening. I kept her in a small pen during those days. It worked
well, and the 4th day when I let her loose in the outdoor arena,
she was feeling good as she ran up and down kicking up her legs.
     I was very relieved that it was not a pulled muscle or she
would have been put out of commission for the whole summer at
     This 5th week of the camp I rode Gyp - a 20 year old horse
that belongs to Batty, very easy nice natured Gelding, with a smooth
     We had thunder showers most evenings during this week.
     I started to work with and break an 8 year old Palomino Mare
belonging to Betty. This horse was born from one of Betty's other
mares. The name of the mare is "Matty" - very well behaved horse in
all ground work. Now Paul and Jane say she gave them trouble a
year or so back, but then when the whole story came out, she was
not being handled correctly and consistently in breaking to ride.
Then nobody did anything with her. I got conflicting stories from
Paul - she bucked him off, then she really did not, then he rode
her bareback in the outdoor arena without any bucking. So was this
horse a terror or was she not? 
     I was not going to take any chances. I would start breaking
her in a very slow manner. I spent a few days just brushing her and
letting her get to know me. I would give her some "sweet-feed" as
I brought her in - she got to think of me as a good friend. I think
that was all I did with her for the first days during this 5th

     This 5th week was also the training week for "teens in
training" to be leaders in Betty's summer camp. They do live out at
the Ranch, in the long house where we have 8 bunk-beds and a
kitchen. This year we had ONE boy (usually all girls) so Betty
brought her camper in for him to stay in it over near barn "B."
     They were especially a good bunch of teens this summer,
showing fine interest and wanting to learn. 
     Jane did make one mistake in her teaching (the young 23 year
old super Basketball player going to the University of Victoria on
Vancouver Island on the West coast). She was explaining the English
way of mounting up on your horse (which we teach all the summer
camp kids to do) which is to put the reins in the left hand and
take hold of the mane in front of the saddle horn. Taking hold of
the saddle horn to mount she said would pull on the withers and
hurt the horse. Of course such is not the case and people have for
centuries mounted up on horses as the cowboys have done since the
saddle horn was invented. The saddle horn was invented by the
cowboys to rope cattle from, of course it is so, for otherwise no
saddle horn on a saddle would be needed, and was not needed until
the cowboy decided he wanted to rope cattle and calves from the

     Well that little bit of wrong teaching we cleared up. Mounting
up on horses like the cowboys do is not wrong. If it really did
hurt a horse you can be sure most horses would pin their ears back
and look very unhappy each time you mounted up that way. Over a
period of time it would be common knowledge from the horse itself
(by the way it acted) that such a way of mounting up was not

     It was a smooth week. The training teens did a special routine
on horseback that Jane taught them for the Friday afternoon
outdoor arena show.


     A small camp this week - 30 children - it was a holiday long-
week-end, hence not a large enrollment as many parents like to go
off with their families to the cabin or lake etc. We divided the
children into 3 groups and called them group 1, 2, and 3. Group 1 
was ponies. Kate and I were split up. By Tuesday it was not working.
I met with Betty to say I needed Kate back with me. Betty agreed
if that was what I wanted it would be so. All went well again after
Kate and I were back as a team. We have been a team for 3 years
and we have worked out the teaching plan and we work together like
hand and glove. The pony children are 8 to 10 years old on the
average, many have never had anything to do with ponies, hence it
takes a lot of patience and certain steps to make the teaching go
smoothly, and safely. 
     By Thursday the pony group was back into the normal grove
Kate and I have worked out. Goldie was now also just about fit. I
used Jet one day and Goldie the next day. 
     The children were all very good - two of them had slight
autism - one named Nathan, had been with us in the two previous
summers, so this was not new to him. He does real well and sweet
natured boy.
     We had a Thursday that was all warm and sunny - not many days
were like this during this summer.

     After camp on Thursday tried putting Goldie in the trailer -
she made a fuss once more. Paul came along and did his thing with
her, and in she went. Paul told me to back her out and put her in
a few times, and so I did, she did fine. It's important to teach
your horse to enter a trailer at home, so you have no problems when
away from home. I well remember a lady about 6 years ago. She was
a friend of someone from the Ranch. She brings her horse out
(obviously put it in the trailer somehow) and goes for a ride on
the Ranch. Putting the horse back into the trailer to go home ...
what a mess, that horse just did not want to go in that one horse
trailer. We tried everything (Paul was not on the Ranch at that
time). We finally got its front feet up on the floor of the trailer
(a North American trailer) and by pull and push the horse finally
gave up its strength and went in. I thought at the time, "Lady you
and your friends should have taught your horse to load into this
trailer way before you ever went off your property, away from home
is not the time to teach your horse to go into your trailer."
     Well I was praying the Lord would give me some dry days in a
row to teach Goldie to go in and out of her new trailer. The way
the summer had been so far ... well it was more rain than dry sunny
days, one after the other, few dry sunny days in a row so far. We
were having a super wet summer and thunder storms each evening.


     The weather was uncertain. The 3 groups did their morning
practice. I did my music show at noon. I had not done any rope
spinning in the show this summer. Did a few warm-ups and decided to
add it to this Friday's show. I do some spin the loops around my
body and also a leg over spin roll; I finish with a two rope spin,
as I move back and forth, up and down, to this side step and that
side step.
     We did the usual parade, where the children ride their horses
or ponies and the parents take pictures.
     We were not sure if we were going to be able to do the outdoor
show because of the wet conditions, but during the noon hour it
cleared up and we were able to have the outdoor show. The dark
rainy looking clouds moved away and we had some sun and dry
conditions, so the show went, and once more everybody was happy.
     Goldie got her, "She looks so nice in her silver saddle and
bridle" from some of the children, who had of course not seen her
in her best tack. I only put it on her for the Friday show.
     Goldie knows now when it is Friday and we go to the outdoor
arena to "stand on safety guard" while the show goes on. She is
well aware of the routine, stands still, drops her head, half
closes her eyes in a little surface sleep. But she is awake and
ready to burst forth like a bullet if she feels my spurs touch her
side. She knows well what her job is - get to where I point her if
any of the children are in trouble of any kind during the show.
     It was a good day for everyone.

SUNDAY - August 8th 2010

     Arrived at the Ranch about 3 p.m. Kate and Jessica were
helping out with trail rides.

	"Hi Keith," Kate shouted.
	"Hi, and what ya doin'?" I replied.
	"Well Jessica and I are going for a ride."
	"Where your goin'?"
	"Long Fox trail I think."
	"Nice, could I come with you?" I asked.
	"Yes, sure you can," Kate responded.
	"Thanks, I'll saddle up my horse."

	We headed out on Fox trail and to the "race track."  
Kate and Jessica were riding two nice mares the Ranch had bought 
from an auction. Both good looking animals - one black the other
sorrel or chestnut.
	"Well Jessica," Kate was telling her,"Keith and Goldie will
leave us far behind when we get to the race track."
	Jessica had never been out to the race track as I have named it.
It would be a first for her.
	I thought I should tighten my cinch before we reached the race 
track as Goldie is one of those horses that blows out her stomach
when you first tighten up the cinch. I did not do the tightening.
The stirrups were also a little too long for a race track gallop.

	We reached the race track and I opened up Goldie. We were flying; 
I lost my left stirrup, my weight shifted to the right - so did the 
saddle. I had to pull up or I would be on the ground. I pulled back
on the reins: "Wow girl, wow girl," I said, and she did. I was pleased
and relieved she listened. I did what I should have done in the first
place - tightened the cinch and shortened the stirrups. Do not make
the mistake I made, it could be disaster; that is if you do any kind
of fast galloping, and such riding is certainly not for the average
rider of today.
	Kate and Jessica waited till I remounted. 
	"Okay girl, all is as it should be, so you can go again as I
know you love to do at times."
	We were off like an arrow leaves the bow. It had been a month
and a half since Goldie had been allowed to go flat out. Kate and
Jessica liked the run on their horses also, but Goldie left them
in the distance. Though the other horses are mares, with all their
hormones, they just did not have the talent of speed to match that
of my horse.
	Then we were all together again moving along the trail. Kate
said, "I was telling a person at the Ranch (she didn't say who and I 
did not ask), how I liked to ride out with Keith. The person replied,
'Isn't that kinda boring?' I told them heck no, with Keith I ride the 
	I laughed and said, "I guess they do not know how fast Goldie
can run; they only see me leading walking trail rides."
	"Yes," Kate replied, "they have no idea about Goldie and
her speed."

	We took the long return trail and showed Jessica the "little 
big dipper" that we do as a run down and up. Then when we got to it, 
Kate wanted to do the very steep hillside trail that nobody does
but me. The horses ran up the last half of the climb and Kate and 
Jessica enjoyed the ride. It is a hillside that certainly gives the
horse a good workout.

	Jessica is a very good horsegirl - she's 16 and takes regular
Western riding lessons with written and practical exams. She has just
finished her 4th exam in Western equestrian horsemanship. I think she
enjoyed our ride on the range and a good gallop here and there.

	So two camps left to go - six have come and gone - a wet summer 
but still it is going as fast as ever.

To be continued

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