Saturday, my birthday, we somehow didn’t have any rides going out at all. The break was welcome to everybody on staff however, and gave us an opportunity to catch up on some things and take it easy all day. We did some trailer repair fixing a broken leaf spring, which consisted of us blasting country music out of the ranch truck while the rest of us watched one person work. I cracked my first beer sometime around 11am. We played a game of Skip-Bo and I shellacked ‘em. After the work was done, Alisha (correction: ah-LISH-ah), Mike, and myself headed to A Painted View for some big cutting competion.
The job of a cutting horse is to cut cows from a herd and keep them away. Cows have a strong herd instinct, so when you separate one form the herd they work hard to get back to it. The rider gets 2:30 to work, rides into the herd, cuts one out, and then keeps out as long as possible. The harder the cow works the horse the more opportunity the horse has to perform and thus higher scores are possible. It was impressive watching these big dollar horses work. Very strong, quick, and agile. After a bit we headed back to the ranch to clean up.
After some showers we headed to town. Mike bought me dinner at this restaurant owned by a Uruguayan family called Cel Dor Asado. It was the size of a standard old town downtown bar, but behind the bar was the grill, and it was a wood grill. Two side by side grills fed by a stack of buring wood above it. The wood would turn into coal, then be spread under the grills, and the food was amazing. I ordered a 12oz ribeye and whatever they seasoned it was uniquely delicious and the meat was incredibly tender. Gotta love Colorado beef prepared and cooked awesomely.
Then to next door, Poag Mahone’s, the Irish (nice) bar in town. They let us play poker for money in the back, and after I punted my $1 SNG stack I hopped on the karaoke list. The party fizzled shortly after 10pm. Ranch time is way different than Vegas time. Makes sense though when round-up is at 6am the next day. That didn’t keep Mike and I from continuing though, and with Alicia driving we were free to booze it up. A little while longer we went up to The Dome, the not nice cowboy bar up the road that you’ll never catch a tourist in. I like it there. I finally talked them into leaving shortly after midnight, and we hit the sack hard.
Ugh that morning sucked. Mike hollered at me that it was round-up time, and I refused to exit my tent. I needed another 45 minutes. I came out just as they started saddling horses, helped them finish, and then Dave and I hit the road early to pack out the group that we packed into the Horn Basin last Sunday. Six horses; 3 riders and 3 packers. Therefore on the way up Dave and I ponied two each, shortly before the top we found the group headed down, said hello, and then rode to their camp where the fourth guy with knee problems was waiting. We packed the packers, gave Tom a riding lesson, and then headed back down the hill. We had a couple of almost hairy situations. Dave’s string tried to take different paths around a tree, but Little Bit, a young but very intelligent and talented horse stopped just in time and waited. Good girl for her first week doing pack trips. Banjo who I was ponying was a pain in the ass, kept stopping to eat sometimes and trying to pass me on others. I told him that I was going to pull his rope so short that his nose gets pooped on (by my horse), he tried to eat again, which rips the rope out of my hand and is a general bad horse habit, and he got put on the short rope, and his nose got pooped on. Then when we stopped by some hikers, he squeezed himself next to my horse between two trees, and being a loaded packer he was a double wide. It was almost quite a wreck. Could have been yard sale, but after some ass kicking he finally backed up out of the gnarly situation. We made it down the hill, received a $50 tip each for our two days of work, and went back to the ranch.
When we got there, the girl scouts from Iowa had arrived. 9 of them and one leader here to do a modified version of Cowboy Camp. Cowgirl Camp I guess. I was going to be involved with this trip rather than the 5 day ultimate trip going out in the morning. It’s Alicia’s last week on the ranch and she hasn’t been on one of the long trips yet, so I gave up my spot for her figuring that I’ll catch one later in August.
Monday morning we did round-up, saddled 13 horses for the 5 day, and I went with them to the trailhead to help with logistics and drive a vehicle back. I returned and headed to the arena to work with the girls on team swording. That’s where you have two riders and a herd of cows and/or calves. The object is to cut the cows from the herd in a specific order, get them to the other half of the pen without the others coming, and do this for all the cows as fast as possible. One rider goes in to cut then drive to the other side while the other rider keeps the herd from coming with or escaping across. Then they switch. It was a blast. Cooked em dinner, had a short campfire, and then I hit the sack around 9:30 and read The Fountainhead for about an hour. I’ve been reading that thing for a couple of months, love it, and am barely half way through.
Tuesday morning Barb and I did round-up and I kicked all kinds of ass. Before we put them to pasture the night before I put the bell of shame on Ashley, the horse that likes to play hide and go seek. OMG that thing is awesome. It’s a halter with a cowbell instead of a lead rope. Apparently this pattern has been going on for years, she hides a bunch, they get sick of it and strap on the cowbell, and eventually she gets sick of that so comes in for round-up nice and easy like most of the rest of them. It seems to have worked today as I found the entire herd in South, and although Ashley was the last one to come in, she didn’t dart off into the trees once we hit West like she usually does. She thought about it, but I was on her ass and she had a bell cowbellin’ loudly with every step she took dangling under her chin. As I headed into South, Barb cut through the trees to check that side, and by the time she came out of the trees I had every single horse in the back corral and was tying up my pony. It was fun to teasingly ask if she enjoyed her trail ride.
We then headed to Cowgirl Camp for breakfast, drove them back to the ranch, and they saddled up preparing for a day ride up to Grouse Peak, several miles and a few thousand feet above the ranch. It was a very cool ride.
Barb is awesome, a very sweet woman, and we led the ride together to the summit. Where we stopped the horses and had lunch wasn’t quite the summit, so we led a hike the rest of the way with the girls that wanted to, and the views were incredibly panoramic.
Before we called it a day we taught the girls how to barrel race in the arena. Little Bit is turning into a helluva horse quickly and put in the best time hands down, and it was amazing watching her learn quickly in the several runs she did. I had a great time today and since I won’t be playing Legends, who knows how long I’ll be here.
Peace and good luck,