Your Reading List

Range rides helps new horse cope with fears

August 20

Andrea, Carolyn and Nick hiked in to Running Creek Ranch last Thursday to get Emily for her week off work. Nick wanted to run the 7-1/2 mile trail, and ran it in just over an hour (with a 30-pound backpack) right before a major rainstorm. They hiked back out to their vehicles at the trailhead at Paradise, and started driving along the Selway River and discovered the road had washed out. They were stranded, and spent the night in a cabin at the Magruder Guard Station. The road could not be repaired any time soon, and there was only one other way out.

Related Articles

The next day they drove 100 miles north through the wilderness along a jeep track to Elk City, then looped back into Montana and came home the long way. They finally got home at 1:30 a.m. Saturday morning.

Monday I typed a biography of my father for the historical society book club, and described how he came to write Murder on the Middle Fork — his historical novel they are reviewing this week.

Today Andrea and I rode over the low range with Sam and Dani riding Breezy and Ed. We rode Dottie and Rishiam (the new gelding Andrea is training).

September 1

We had several days of rain but Andrea and I kept riding, trying to get more rides on her new gelding and get him farther along in his training. We’re working at getting him past some of his fears, especially his phobia about bridling and taking the bridle off. He’s starting to trust us.

When Emily went back to Running Creek after her week at home, the washed-out road was still under reconstruction, so she flew in with a pilot taking hunters in and out.

Tuesday we rode with Carolyn. We had to move some cows up Baker Creek, and Dottie did very well; she likes to move cattle and will eventually make a good cowhorse for Sam.

Thursday morning we sent our older bull to the sale (Duwayne Hamilton was hauling a load of cattle), then Andrea helped me trim Rubbie and Veggie’s feet and put them on the ditch bank pasture where they grazed earlier this summer. With the rain in mid-August, the grass has grown back.

This weekend Andrea made her 25th ride on Rishiam, with the girls, and when we got home I let Sam ride Dottie for the first time, around the barnyard.

September 29

Carolyn rode daily for a week to help round up cattle and Michael rode with her a couple days. It was a tough roundup this year and they wore out their horses.

Thursday Alfonzo, the Miller family and friends rounded up their cattle, with 22 riders. They sorted cattle in the fence corner next to our 160-acre pasture and some crashed through the division fence. John Miller offered to help us rebuild the fence.

Emily flew out of Running Creek, crammed into a little plane with two hounds and a cat. She’s done with that job for this year. She is doing online school courses again and glad to be home.

Friday afternoon the girls rode with us and we found three pairs of Alfonzo’s cattle that got missed in their roundup. Coming down through our 320, Sam found a deer antler and I carried it home for her on Dottie. She rode Dottie again briefly after we got home.

Young Heather spent three weeks visiting a friend in Saskatchewan on a grain farm near the little town of Handel. She learned how to run a combine and enjoyed helping with harvest, and meeting his family.

Early Monday morning two range bulls were walking along the fence behind Andrea’s house. They got missed when the neighbours were rounding up. Carolyn was helping again that day. They trailered their horses up into the mountains looking for more cows and wouldn’t be able to come this way to get the two bulls. Andrea and I offered to round up the bulls, riding Sprout and Ed.

While taking those bulls home (a four-mile trek) we discovered a freshly killed bull elk, shot out of season, and reported it to the Fish and Game Department. They sent conservation officers to salvage the elk and Andrea showed them where it was.

The next day Michael put new shoes on Dottie for me. Then he helped Lynn make repairs on our old dump truck. Andrea and I rode through the neighbours’ range, taking Rishiam and Dottie, this time, into areas they’ve never been. This was Rishiam’s 46th ride and he’s come a LONG ways in his training. He trusts Andrea more now, and they are becoming a good team. He is no longer headshy, and more comfortable with bridling. He walks through water and bogs with less reluctance, and is more controllable in spooky situations.

About the author

Heather Smith Thomas's recent articles

Comments

explore

Stories from our other publications