We like to remember. We remember our first good friend, our first teacher, and our first love. We remember the folks that have helped us along our way and the folks that have not. We hold on to those memories. Sometimes they are in the forefront of our thoughts, triggered by an event or a song, smell or something familiar. Other times our memories are hidden somewhere in the depths of our minds like an old friend we lost contact with.
Horses remember too. They remember everything! That’s why a good start in the halter leads to an easier start under saddle and a good start under saddle leads to a more confident horse in any discipline. Horses remember how things feel. They also remember being scared from a bad experience, over confinement, or from the over use of force. They remember how to fight when their flight response is taken away from them.
The good news is, most horses are very forgiving. We know from working with hundreds of horses that have had less than a perfect life. When these horses are offered something that feels good to them, something they understand, they find a way to bury the past. They don’t forget, they forgive and bury. If we offer them the things they understand in a way that makes them feel safe, they will choose to react in a way that helps us do our job.
A good horseman will do their best to forget any unfavorable encounters with the horses they work with. We need to have confidence in our ability to learn from our mistakes and create better learning environments for our horse partners. If we applied pressure in a way that caused a blow-up, we need to think of ways to get our job done without crossing that line again. We look for the subtle signals from our horses that allow us to expose them to things they need to know and still stay on this side of trouble. We also need to forgive and trust that given our new knowledge, everything will work out for the best. We need to leave the past in the past.
On a day when the high temperature is in the twenties and snow is in the air it’s hard to believe that Spring will be here soon. Spring brings with it the promise of new life and new beginnings. Foals and calves are born, flowers pop up from once frozen ground, and tree buds open to show us this years leaf crop.
Yesterday, we brought in the yearlings we’ll be running this year. That represents a new cattle beginning for us this year. Last years yearlings did their job of growing and getting bred. They’ll go on to become mother cows bringing new life to this world each spring. I went to the ranch that raised the cattle we bought to help them haul the cattle to our place. It was an opportunity to get a second look at the cattle we were purchasing and, even better, an opportunity to meet more of the people that cared for the cow herd and raised the calves. That’s where I met Kathy and her husband Ron.
Kathy and I got to talking about horses….imagine that! She has been riding her whole life. She was getting along fine but, attended a clinic given by a well known clinician who traveled to our area. She said it was like starting over. I know what she means! When Amy and I first met Ray Hunt, he could have been speaking Latin for all we understood. Kathy and I got to talking about how interesting it was that even an older horse could understand what we were saying when we got onto speaking their language. It was like a new beginning in our relationship! Kathy was experiencing that with her older gelding. The new language she was learning made sense to her gelding and he was liking the way she was talking to him. It doesn’t matter how old we are or the age of the horse we are working with, it’s never too late for a new beginning!
This Black Beauty is such a nice quiet, gentle, kind part draft mare! Josie is a 2007 draft cross mare, her sire is a Shire/TB cross and dam is a 50% QH, 25% Morgan and 25% Percheron, standing 16-2 with a size 4 front shoe. She was bred and raised by the Mangus 5 Outfitters in Durango (www.themangus5.com) specifically for the family business of outfitting/packing and trail horse for their guests. The Mangus 5 specializes in drop camps for Colorado mountains north of Durango with elevations of 13,000-14,000 feet. She was used on the mountain trails in Durango as a riding horse and packing horse before our client bought her in 2015. This big hardy girl is looking for her new home and would love a job as a trail horse or ranch horse. While she does well in the arena (she has been in dressage training with her current owner), she loves being out doing a job the best! She is good in the herd, easy to shoe, de-worm, vaccinate and is up to date on all. Her teeth were done Spring of 2017. Her back is not typical of a draft and we found it easy to fit our wade saddle to her, she holds it well with her nice withers. Josie is a very easy keeper and low maintenance kind of gal, currently grass hay and a handful of grain plus mineral is all she needs. We are working with her to get her back in shape, adding more things to her current resume such as roping. She has been so accepting and has great try for all the things we have offered her so far! Contact us for more information or to set up a time to come check her out! $8500.00
We were flipping through channels yesterday, trying to catch-up with what is going on in the rest of the world. We like to learn from other’s perspectives. On one of the Sunday morning talk shows a U.S. Senator was being interviewed. He was asked about a lot of different things. His answers were straightforward and appeared to be from his heart as well as his mind. I don’t even remember what the context of his remark was but, what he said was profound and could apply to a lot of different areas of our lives. I’ll paraphrase here because I don’t want to misquote him. I heard him say that, it’s not always about winning; it matters how you get there. Wow! Something we truly believe coming from a sitting Senator!
We’ve lived our lives on that pretext. It really does matter how you get there. It matters how you treat the people that come into your life and it matters how you feel about things happening around you. It matters how you deal with the good and the bad. It’s not about winning the contest, it’s how you play the game.
It matters to our horses how we get there. Because they live what they learn and learn what they live, each moment of the journey with their human matters. For them, it’s not about winning because it’s not about a contest. It’s how the offer is made, how the problem is presented, and how it feels when the right solution is found. There is enough struggle between horse and human in trying to understand each other without making working with our horse a contest. Learn how to live in the moment, deal with the present, and enjoy the way you get there!
Sunday, after chores, we made our monthly trek to Cheyenne for groceries. I like to shop at the Sam’s Club up there because I’m not overwhelmed by too many choices of each item we need.
One of the items we needed this trip was toothpaste. That’s a product that has changed considerably in just my short time here on earth. When I was a kid, we were told that we needed to brush our teeth so they stayed healthy and didn’t fall out. We needed to maintain healthy gums and teeth by brushing twice daily. As we stood there looking at our choices and trying to remember what we had bought last time, we were struck by the marketing message on the toothpaste and how it had changed. Now, instead of, brush your teeth to save them, the message is brush your teeth to make them whiter and your breath fresher.
We understand that if we want healthy teeth, brushing versus not brushing is not a real question. But, it got us thinking about how we think about brushing versus how other folks might think about it. I need to have meaning and purpose behind the things I do each day or I don’t see value in doing them. Both Amy and I think about the foundation of our projects and how it will support the look of that project in the end. Putting a shine on our teeth without supporting the health of our teeth and gums just wouldn’t make sense to us.
Our horses thrive when they are given the chance to build a strong foundation. Holes in that foundation, like cavities in our teeth, weaken their chance to lead healthy, productive lives when interacting with humans. Trying to put a “finish” on a horse that doesn’t have a good start is like trying to put a shine on a rotten tooth. It might look good for a while but, pretty soon it’s going to fall apart. That’s why we’re always going back to check our horses foundation and filling in the holes. We want a horse that shines from the gum to the crown!
This weekend, we took some time to attend the Colorado Cowboy Poetry Gathering held in Golden, Colorado. Music and poetry that is rooted in our lifestyle appeals to us. To have the opportunity to relax and listen to a bunch of it, all in one place, in the dead of winter, was too good to pass up. We had never been to a cowboy poetry gathering before. We didn’t know what to expect. What we found was a room full of artists and fans that had the love of the western United States and the tales that have sprung from it in common. There was a real comradery amongst all the attendees.
The amount of talent possessed by the artists was phenomenal. Guitar, fiddle, banjo, mandolin, bass fiddle and voices blended to weave a tapestry of tales that drew us into the songs and poems. These artists are good. They are masters of their craft. They had obviously put in the time and miles to get really good at what they love. Their love of what they do was the only thing that outshone their talents. In spite of all of this talent, we saw no ego. We saw people that believed that they needed to keep “working on it”. The artists roamed the halls between performances visiting with the spectators. If we hadn’t known who the artists were, we couldn’t have told you who was who.
For us, egotistical people are not people we would choose to spend a lot of time around. We believe that you can master your craft, and pass on some of what you’ve learned, without ego. We’ve been blessed with the opportunity to do what we love to make a living. That has given us more time to spend with horses and cattle than the average horse owner. We’ve tried to use that time to get better at what we love. Not to be better than other people but, to be as good as we can regardless of what others are doing. Being quietly confident in what we do is not the best way to attract large groups of people to our business but, at least we have a business that matches us and what we believe. We hope that when we have the opportunity to help someone with their horse or their horsemanship, we leave them with the same feeling we got from the Colorado Cowboy Poetry Gathering. A feeling of having spent quality time with people we can relate to, doing something we really love.
When I was a young guy eager to learn the ranching business and the cowboy trade, I had the opportunity to work around some older hands who taught me a ton. I grew up in town and had just enough of a taste of ranch life through an uncle and some summer situations that I wanted more. I looked for chances to spend time around livestock people. I’d go to the Arizona National Livestock show held in Phoenix each year, I’d spend time at the local feed store and the stables in our area and I’d talk to anyone who didn’t mind visiting with a green kid about horses, cattle, and ranching. Even though I didn’t know much, my wanting to learn and their willingness to teach gave us something in common.
Yesterday and the day before I spent time with the Double Diamond Halter Co. crew setting up a booth at the Western English Sales Association Show held at the Denver Merchandise Mart. The owner, Pete, his wife, Sharon, and a friend, Nancy got the booth set-up, put product out, and looked at ways to promote Double Diamond’s product line. They make the best halters, leads, reins, dog leashes, and tons of other things useful to horse owners like us. We’ve used these products for more than 20 years and found them to work well and last a very long time.
Pete cowboyed, rode colts, and shoed some horses as a young guy. Sharon and Nancy help run businesses or departments and have spent a good amount of time around horses and livestock. Even though their lives are different than mine we have common interests of cattle, horses, and business. We have some common ground that we’ve built a friendship around. I enjoy spending time around Pete, Sharon, and Nancy because we have things in common and we work to reach a worthwhile goal for a couple of days each year.
Wouldn’t it be great to find some common ground with our horses through a worthwhile goal? Getting our ideas to become their ideas and then allowing them to do our thing their way? When we are working with the horses mind, we create a goal and attempt to reach that goal as a team, as partners. Learning and practicing the tools that allow us to communicate clearly with our horse and then offering them a chance to help us reach our goal would put us on some real solid common ground.
We were at a meeting tonight. As part of the proceedings, an entertainer was hired to well….entertain. He was very good. He had songs that related to the groups interests and had humorous stories that we all could put ourselves in. In spite of this fellows talent and topics, there were several in the crowd that were more interested in listening to themselves talk than to listen to the entertainer entertain. For those of us who seldom have the opportunity to hear this kind of thing it was very, very annoying.
I was helping a lady today whose horse was a little like those folks at the meeting we went to tonight, he just would not focus on the entertainer. He is a nice horse. He’s gentle, sweet, kind and totally uninterested in what the human has to say. I get that! There are plenty of folks we run into on a daily basis that use a lot of words to say very little. Our goal with this gelding was to let him know that what we are saying is important to us, therefore, important to him. We needed him to make plans to help us. And, without listening to us, hearing what we had to say, he had no way of knowing what was happening with us right now or in the near future so, he wasn’t getting prepared to help.
We needed to make ourselves more interesting. We couldn’t do what we had been doing and expect him to get more interested. Changing how we presented our ideas and working at keeping things fresh seemed to help him help us. To me, that’s a big part of what horsemanship is all about.
SOLD! Rojo Cowgirl is a 2004 (AQHA #4503133) 15 hand bay roan mare that has been raising quality foals for us. We bought Cowgirl from the Bartlett Ranch as a weanling. We started her under saddle and rode her for 5 years before adding her to our brood mare band. She is quiet and gentle, easy to catch, trim feet, de-worm, vaccinate, etc (up to date on all).
Cowgirl has a foundation pedigree by Bubba Roan Cowboy (his sire, Bee Lowa Cowboy has halter and roping points) and Red Desert Rap by Son of a Rap (has halter points). She would be an asset to any breeding program that wants strong, solid built horses that excel in ranch work, roping, performance and pretty enough to show in halter.
She sells open for 2017. Asking $2000.00
SOLD! Peptos Lady Doctor is a 2003 (AQHA #4353095) 15 hand sorrel mare that has been raising quality foals for us. She was in training for a tie down horse before we bought her. We rode her for a year before adding her to our brood mare band. She is super cowy as would be expected with her pedigree. A quiet, gentle mare, she is easy to catch, trim feet, de-worm, vaccinate, etc (up to date on all).
Lady has a royal pedigree with greats like Peptoboonsmal (25 Plus Million Dollar sire), Docs Prescription (NCHA money earner). She would be an asset to any breeding program that wants strong, solid built horses that excel in ranch work, roping, cutting, cow horse, performance and pretty enough to show in halter.
She sells in foal to our Stallion, Dynamites Last Blast AQHA#3980935 & FQHA#19477, who is by Dynamite Badger by Peppy San Badger and out of Lenas Dynamit by Doc O’Lena. His dam is HBD Cow Watcher who is an own daughter of Handle Bar Doc (world champion son of Doc Bar) and out of Special Little Peppy (an NCHA Champion and own daughter of Peppy San Badger). With this royal million dollar pedigree, strong, athletic, good minded colts she has raised, this is a package deal you won’t want to pass up. Asking $4000.00