So much of what we do on the ranch has changed radically from a few years back. Where 3 or 4 families could live and be supported on this place when it began, the ranch supports now supports two. Where the work in the fields were done by teams of horses, large blue tractors have taken their place. Where large strong men once worked as crews traveling around putting up grain, the job is done by two guys and some good equipment.
But some things have remained the same, the need for good horses is one. Horses out here are indispensable. This country is rough. Steep shaley hillsides. Deep cutbanks. Bentonite covered areas made slick with a smidge of rainfall. Horse-sucking bogs that surprise you along the sides of creeks and springs. Distances that force emergency response, if lucky, to an hour. This is no place to have horse problems. Getting bucked off and hurt means serious problems.
The horses you ride have to be trustworthy and solid. A pheasant underfoot or a bull on the fight or an odd shaped white rock must be accepted by your horse. When we find a good horse, they are a treasure. What else could you call a creature you entrust your child’s life to? Unfortunately, good horses seem to get old fast, and of all of our horses, 3/4 of them are old. So we’ve kept our eyes open…hoping to find a good one somewhere…
Well, Saturday in Cody was their Wild West Days with its Top Notch Horse Sale. (www.codywildwestdays.com) We rose early and drove the 2 hours to Cody to preview the horses before the auction. Since the weather had done nothing but snow or rain, Vernon’s farming was on hold, and he could leave. Our number one choice was soon eliminated… cold-backed when first saddled, this gelding was rejected because he might buck easily. This one was similar. That one was too tall. Too young. Too old. Too flashy. (Hey, I like flash too, but we figured the price would be too high on those with “chrome”) Finally we find a red roan mare… too much flash??? She’s gentle and has a good handle. Short. A little pudgy.
The auction comes too soon, I haven’t found all the horses I wanted to look at… and the horses go through the ring. There were a few we were impressed by, how’d we miss those at the preview??? Then comes our little roany friend… we bid, and bid, and bid, and finally quit. We don’t get her. Now what? Do we go home empty handed or take a risk on a horse we haven’t investigated as well? Here comes Winchester. He was on my short list. Called gentle. Looks tall though… Well built. Shiny. Guaranteed to do any ranch job. Do we bid? We better. And we do. And we get him. So Winchester has joined the rest of the horses on Greet Ranch.
Dang, he’s taller than I remembered. Dang, he’s powerful. Dang, he’s a goer. Ummm… maybe the boys should ride this horse and I’ll look for another. We’re still investigating each other. Will he fit in??? We’ll know in a few weeks… But he sure is pretty! Here’s his photo from the horse sale… I’ll take my own photos soon.