Your Reading List

Accident on the trail cuts short a ride

MAY 28

Last Saturday Lynn helped our new neighbour, John Miller, work on water troughs on the low range pasture, cleaning out the spring boxes so there would be more flow into the troughs.

That Sunday we had our family all here for dinner — Michael and Carolyn and kids, and Andrea and kids. This was a group birthday celebration for Michael’s family (four birthdays in April) and for Lynn and Andrea (birthdays May 17 and 21).

Andrea and I made several rides on Sprout and Ed, checking the fence around the middle range, fixing broken wires the elk went through, and shutting gates.

Saturday we rode with John Miller to show him the middle range and where the troughs are located, and the ones that need to be fixed. We closed another gate that had been left open all winter. He was hoping he could remember the names and locations of all the troughs, so I told him I would make him a map of the range pastures.

Sunday afternoon we took Sam and Dani for their first ride this summer on 27-year-old Veggie and 20-year-old Ed. Andrea rode Breezy and I rode 26-year-old Rubbie.


Michael got all their horses shod, reshod Breezy and put new shoes on Ed before he went back to North Dakota to his truck-driving job. Heather is working with Dottie for a while every morning when she comes down to feed the old horses and spends the rest of the day working with the other horses she’s training.

A week ago Andrea and I made a long ride in the rain to check cows, fences and fix another gate. The cows were spread out better in the cool weather and we didn’t have to move any that day. But when we got to the third canyon our horses started snorting and didn’t want to cross the little creek. Sprout spooked and whirled, and tried to bolt out of there. It’s a good thing she’s strong and agile and had brand-new shoes with good traction or she would have fallen down that steep, slippery hill and rolled to the bottom.

Andrea got her stopped and finally got her across. There was a dead bull in the sagebrush along the trail ahead of us — one of John’s bulls. We found out later that the bull died in the creek the day before. John and his boys had brought their team of draft horses to pull the body up the bank and away from the creek. Our horses spooked when they smelled the trail left from dragging the dead bull.


Today is the anniversary of Andrea’s burn accident 13 years ago. Last year we celebrated this day with a picnic ride with her kids. This year the three youngest kids are with their dad this week, so we will have a celebration later, when they come home.


Heather is making nice progress with Dottie. Last week we took her to the new corral Michael built when he tore down our falling-down round corral. Heather rode Dottie in there a few days, working on walking, trotting, turning, stopping. Now she’s riding her around the barnyard and fields and today I rode Ed along with her, to get Dottie used to going with another horse.

Lynn hooked up the swather to our big John Deere tractor and cut hay on heifer hill and the field below it. He turned off the rest of our irrigation water to start drying out the other fields so he can cut them, too.

There were too many cows at Withington trough, with no water, so we herded them over the mountain and down to the Bear trough area. Some of them didn’t want to go the right direction and ran into the brush. Andrea galloped Sprout to chase them out of the brush while I was chasing wayward cows on the other side of the herd.

I heard her holler from the brush, so I galloped around the hill to come see what was wrong. She’d run into a big tree branch that stabbed a couple of inches into her thigh, clear to the bone, and broke off. The wound was spurting blood so she had her hand pressed over the gash to slow the bleeding. While she held pressure on it, we got bandages from her saddle bag and dish towels (that I use for scarves in cold, wet weather) from my saddle bag. I slapped a big square bandage onto the wound the instant she removed her hand, and we wrapped and tied three scarves around her leg to hold the bandage in place and create pressure to stop the bleeding.

Then we rode home, and she went to town to the hospital. The emergency room doctor flushed and suctioned out more wood fragments and tree bark, and put some internal dissolvable stitches into the flesh (since her graft skin is fragile and wouldn’t hold stitches very well).

Wednesday she went to the clinic for a checkup and that doctor didn’t like the looks of it and put her on an antibiotic. They took an X-ray to see if there were any fragments left in the wound and checked the bone. There were no obvious fragments. The only things that showed up were staples from the graft surgeries 13 years ago. After the grafted skin “takes,” the staples holding it are removed, but there are always some that end up under the skin — and tend to migrate around through the tissues. †

About the author



Stories from our other publications