Tuesday Shelley, Dave, and myself headed over to the ranch and met Dean, one of Dave’s neighbors (across the street and down two houses, about a mile walk through the woods). Dave taught us how to catch horses so we could take them into the corral and saddle them. I’ve ridden a fair amount, but I’ve never gotten to work directly with the horses. Like a kid in a candy store I gleefully walked into the pasture as forty head of horses looked at me, the bag of grain in my left hand, and a halter in my right hand.
So, wait… I’m supposed to catch a horse. Dave says all you gotta do is get the lead rope from the halter around their neck and you got ‘em. The problem is that horses know what that thing in my right hand is. I was instructed to catch Blaze. But Blaze didn’t want to get caught. Dave was going to catch Mariah, but she wasn’t having none of that gettin’ caught stuff either. It really was quite amusing. Horses that you didn’t want to catch would materialize behind you and be like, “Sup,” while the horse you wanted to catch didn’t want to get caught and would stay just far enough away so that you would continue pursuit.
The weather was gnarly that afternoon. We finally got four horses caught, and I ended up with Rebekkah, the “Caddilac.” She was a big girl who liked to fart in Shelley’s general direction. Off for a walk in the pasture we go, and this one black horse is following my horse around. I find it amusing. It snows good, then it stops, standard Colorado weather, and then Rebekkah jumps. I’m like, “What the?!?” I see the black horse between me and the rest of my party, ears back, and Rebekkah doesn’t like it. She responds to my commands to turn and try and get around this horse, but he won’t let me, and I don’t know horses well enough to know what’s going on. All I know is that I don’t want to get ejected by a pissed off horse. The black horse herds Rebekkah and I back to the central horse hangout. Dave is hollering instructions, but I can’t hear him through the wind and the snow. Things aren’t bad, I just can’t get my horse to go where I want it to go, and there’s a pissed off black horse making sure that I can’t get her to do what I want her to do.
Turns out she’s in heat and he’s in love.
So we take them back into the corral, remove the hackamores, saddles, pads, and halters, the whole time the black horse hanging his head over the fence watching us. It was a good afternoon.
That evening Dave and I headed up to Cripple Creek to play some cards. 30 miles of dirt roads to Canon City, 15 miles along the Arkansas River, and then another 30 some odd miles up the southwestern foothills of Pikes Peak until we reached the mining town revived by gambling in the last fifteen years. Took us two hours each way and it was great. We played a bit, played the tournament, both lost, caught up with several staff members that I worked with when I propped there in 2003, and had a good time.
Wednesday morning we got up early enough to drive out to Monarch Ski Area, hoping that there’d be some fresh snow. It was sunny and beautiful here. We drove through Custer County to Cotapaxi on the Arkansas, northwest to Salida, and then west on the 50 up into Monarch Pass. As we started gaining elevation we also gained clouds and snow on the ground, and by the time we parked, with the forty or so other cars in the empty parking lot, it was snowing. They got three inches overnight and were expecting another three throughout the day. It rarely stopped snowing, except for the occasional two minutes of sunshine that is customary for snowstorms in the high country.
It’s a dang good thing that there was fresh snow because I’ve finally gotten my jumping legs under me in the last couple of weeks. The first kicker I hit was nice and smooth, and I was feeling great about jumping today. Shortly after lunch we hit the big terrain park. I took the first jump perfect, skipped the rails and boxes because I have no clue what to do on or with them since they didn’t exist when I was nuts on skis thirteen years ago, and lined up for the next table top with kicker.
I hit it waaaaay too hard.
When I passed the back edge of the table top, I was still climbing, moving forward, and rotating to my left. Now the ground is falling away from me. This thought went through my head: “Sigh. … I’m glad I bought health insurance.”
I came down landing on my side from at least ten feet in the air. It knocked the wind out of me a bit, I thought I might have cracked a rib or two, but after ten seconds or so I was thankful to realize that there wasn’t anything major wrong. I sidestepped up the hill to retrieve my ski that had fallen off, and finished the run ending at the lodge at the bottom. I’m sure somebody got a good kick out of that show. I really think if I didn’t have that several inches of fresh powder I would have hurt myself good, so I’m very thankful that it decided to snow when it did.
Thursday I woke up, worked in the morning, and then headed to the ranch with Dave to feed some horses. Knock roll of hay onto it’s side, tie rope around roll and attach to hitch, drag into pasture telling horses to git, cut off retaining mesh, roll blue feeding ring around hay roll, repeat. Forty horses eat a lot of hay in the winter.
After that chore was done, Dave and I went for a ride. We spent a few hours wandering around the hills surrounding the ranch. Somewhere toward the end of it all I asked him if I could come work for him for free after the Series, and he said yes. I may just take him up on it.
The Ultimate Bet UBOC is underway, the first three events in the books already. I think I’ve lasted a combined two hours in the three of them. Better than bubbling. I’ll be playing every event, come catch the action it’s a good week for tournaments.
Peace and good luck,
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