Posts Tagged ‘horse’

It has been pretty wild and crazy here at El Rancho de Loco.  I think I have actually sat down to write this post 4 times so far and have not finished it yet – at least until tonight. Cross my heart, I promise I will not leave this computer until it’s done.

There is always lots of work to do on a ranch and spring is always the busiest time of the whole year.  We’ve been buying cattle, branding cattle, sorting cattle and moving cattle to summer pasture.  And we’ve been doing a lot of riding.

That’s Hubby’s new horse Smokey and my sweet new Pistol.  We’ve gotten along really well considering we have been working our butts off.  Just once I would like to be able to get to know a horse without having a herd of crazy cows going in 50 different directions to contend with.  But Pistol did just fine!  She definitely loves to work cattle and she is QUICK! 

We finally pushed the last of the pairs out onto the Forest Service permit last week where they will spend the summer eating lush grass and basically hiding out from us pesky ranchers.  Now all that’s left is to brand the last load of yearlings and move them to the beautiful pasture near Crazy Horse Mt.  Of course I keep forgetting to grab my camera so I  have very few photos to show. 

There’s this one of Pistol who is saying “OK, I’m ready to go”.  Notice the bare spot on her backside – I’m not real sure what happened – she either rubbed it off in the horse trailer coming home or one of the other horses and her had ‘words’.  Any time you bring home a new horse they have to establish the pecking order.  Thankfully, Pistol has settled in very well with the other horses and I know her backside will grow hair again.

We’ve been going pretty steady every night after work and even a few early mornings so the last night of sorting I opted to give Pistol the night off and I rode a horse of a different color…

I guess you could call her a Red Roan.

This horse isn’t near as good as Pistol.  It doesn’t corner as well, it likes to find prairie dog holes and it will, on occasion, wander off if you don’t set the brake which I didn’t and it did.  I stepped off for just a second to shake my favorite ‘rattle paddle’ at one wild-eyed cow and when I turned back to get on my trusty steed it had rear ended the pickup.  Won’t you know – it was the only thing parked in the whole corral and the 4 wheeler hit it.  Don’t worry – there wasn’t any damage I just had to back it off the tailgate.   No sweat.

This ‘fake’ horse also doesn’t have a nice fuzzy nose that gives velvety kisses either.  If fact it’s a rather poor substitute. 

The only good thing about this ‘horse’ is that it is very easy to step on and off of and that makes it really easy to pick up things you find along the way.  And then it has this really nice box on the back too so it’s easy to carry home all kinds of crap – I mean treasures.  That night I actually found 2 treasures. 

The first was a  jawbone of an antelope.  I’m not sure what killed it but by the way the hide appeared to be ‘balled up’ I would guess it possibly could have been a lion kill.

The second one was this piece of history…

Please ignore the dirty kitchen floor.  Can you tell what it is?  Here’s some clues:

1.  I would guess it is around 60 to 120  years old.

 2.  The small hooks on either end were hand forged. 

3.  The wood was oak and originally it was straight across – not nearly bent in half.

This has probably laid out in the grass (near the road to Elk Mountain) ever since it broke years and yeas ago.  Dan didn’t remember ever seeing it before and I’m sure everyone driving by on the road was moving too fast to even notice it. 

Got any guesses?

No, it’s not an antique Pioneer Thigh Master.  Good guess, thought.

It is actually a ‘tug’ which is part of a harness for a horse.  This piece would have hitched on behind the horse and would have hooked onto either a wagon, a piece of equipment or even been used to hook onto what ever needed to be moved.  Here’s a photo from last years Custer Co Fair showing some harness being put  to work.  This isn’t the same as the piece I found but it gives you the general idea.

 It always amazes me how much ‘stuff’ we find in the grass.

Well, it’s off to bed for me so we can get up early and have more fun tomorrow.  Yipee!





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If you’ve been following my blog you might remember that I don’t really enjoy shopping.  In fact I hate it and I usually put it off as long as I possibly can.  I’m actually fascinated by the women on TV who go shopping every day.  They go to the malls and department stores where they seem to spend hours trying on clothes, shoes and makeup.  They buy new appliances, sheets and bedding and new towels for the bathrooms.  I hate to admit we’ve still got a few of the same towels we received as marriage gifts 27 years ago.  Some of these women even trade cars faster than I swap out socks!  Amazing. 

My idea of a wild shopping spree is picking up two new pairs of Wranglers and a pair of Ariat boots at the feed store when I go to buy a load of feed or vet supplies.  I don’t even take the time to try on the pants anymore.  Yep, I’m not what you would call a shopaholic.

I don’t really have a specific reason why I don’t like to shop but I do have a theory – perhaps shopping is more fun if you actually have money to spend.  Since this is rarely the case around here I’ve decided shopping is basically a waste of time.

But sooner or later I do have to go shopping and last week I went…

I spent a bunch of money…

But I didn’t go to the mall or a department store…

I went shopping at a small ranch south of Hot Springs.

As with most of my shopping sprees, this trip involved a trailer to haul home my purchase.  This time I took this one.

I bet you’re trying to figure out just how many pairs of Wrangler jeans and Ariat boots it takes to fill this trailer – aren’t you?  The world may never know because this time I didn’t buy clothes or boots or even new appliances.

 I bought a Pistol.

This time the ‘Pistol’ is a horse. 

In fact she is an 8-year-old registered quarter horse mare who stands about 14 hands tall.  She is sorrel colored with only a narrow strip and snip on her nose and I love her already.


Her full name is Leo Sans Pistol and she is quick.  She has some cutting experience and loves working cattle so I’m betting that this combination will probably add up to me ending up in a pile on the ground a couple of times before we get used to each other.  But that’s OK – I still bounce pretty good for an old lady.

She’s a sweetie and very curious with a great disposition and a lot more git-up-and-go than I’m used to so she can definitely kick it into warp drive when needed.

And you know what?  I think I could get used to this whole shopping thing.



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What exactly is a snubbin’ post?

I heard you – inquiring minds want to know.  So to ease your mind and not leave you hanging,

this is a picture of a genuine snubbin’ post.

No – it’s not the cows or the cowboys or even the big stick my Hubby is dragging behind him – it’s the wooden post sticking out of the ground all by itself in the middle of the corral.  The one that looks like someone forgot to build the fence on to it.

And what do we use a snubbin’ post for?

Why snubbin’ – of course.

Let us demonstrate.

Here’s our son Morgan and his rope.  Morgan likes to rope and he’s good at it.  Please notice that at the end of his rope he has a calf and two cowboys trying to subdue said calf.

Now, notice how Morgan has one loop wrapped around the post already and is ‘throwing’ a second loop.  It is always a good idea to have at least 2 loops around the post no matter what size the animal is on the end of your rope.  Three is even better.  The friction from the rope around the post gives you much more control over the ticked off animal – at least it gives you the illusion of control.  You soon learn there is very little about the world of ranching that you have any control over.  This setup also allows you to take up slack when the ticked off animal charges at you and hopefully you get enough slack to get you clear of the business end of the charging animal.  Warning – don’t ever let your loops cross over each other as they will bind up and refuse to slide at the exact moment you really, really need them too. 

 Take my word for this. 

By applying a little pressure you are able to hold a very large and very angry animal in place no matter how many times it chases you around the post (as long as you stay ahead of it and don’t get run over).  And absolutely never ever let them get the rope wrapped around any part of your body – this is an extremely bad thing.  People have lost body parts and their lives by getting tangled in ropes.  A rope can cut like a knife under the wrong conditions and cows never stop just because you ask them to.

Oops, Morgan – you’ve lost a loop. 

Snubbin’ posts are very heavy posts, usually the butt end of old power poles that are set deep into the ground.  This is a new one we put in a couple of years ago when the original one rotted off and broke while we were working cattle.  Hubby’s uncle and his father had set the original post when they built the corrals sometime in the 20’s or 30’s and it showed all those years of wear and tear in the deep groves dug by hundreds of ropes.  

My favorite part of the old corrals are the gates.  There’s nothing like the sound of an old wooden gate when you swing it open.  It’s music to my ears.  Our gates  are hung from the original gate posts that were set back then too and it amazes me that they are still in such good shape as cattle are pretty rough on things.  Remember the ‘bull in the china shop’ thing?  It’s true. 

Snubbin’ posts are handy for other things too.  You can wire metal panels (sections of portable fence) to them when you need to create an alley way or loading chute.  They will also save your butt when the usually mild-mannered bovine changes before your eyes to a raging leather bag full of vinegar and oneryness and decides, for some unknown reason, that you are the spawn of the devil himself and their sole purpose in this life is to the stomp you into the ground and save the world from scum like you.  It happens – I’ve seen it happen.  It’s scarry when it happens!  The trick is to keep the post between you and the cow long enough for you to jump the fence.  And believe me, with the right motivation (such as a ticked off cow blowing snot all over your backside) you can clear that 6 foot corral in a single bound – just like Super Man.

You can take my word for that too.

Here’s a good picture of the post and our oldest son Dalton on Rough.  I know it’s a weird name for a horse but it suits him – he’s always been a little rough around the edges.

Horses know the benefits of snubbin’ posts too.  Rough has worked most of his life in this corral and he’s ducked behind that post and run cattle around it and has even been tied to it a time or two himself – yes, that’s partly how he got his name.

Snubbin’ posts take a lot of abuse but every corral should have one. 

Don’t you think?

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Occasionally I come across quotes that are so worthy – so enlightening –  sooooooo profound that I have the uncontrollable urge to share this wisdom with all of mankind, thereby making the world a better place.

Hey, I do what I can.

The first quote I would like to share was spoken to me by a favorite family friend named Trapper.

The year was 1989.  My husband and I had just brought home our newborn son and Trapper, being a good friend, came to pay homage to the new heir of the family empire. 

Standing there, holding the joy of our lives in his strong, capable and calloused hands Trapper looked down into the face of innocence. 

I gazed on, wrapped in the golden glow of the miracle of life and suddenly at peace with the world. 

 Our precious baby boy was mesmerized by this man and he smiled up into the weathered face of the stranger, cooing in delight as he promptly

 ‘broke wind’ and filled his tiny diaper.

I doubt that I will ever see Trapper at a loss for words and this was no exception.  Somehow he always knows the perfect response to any situation (although his wife would probably disagree). 

Like a divine prophecy dropped from the heavens above, these are the words he spoke:

“A farting horse will never tire,  And a farting man’s the man to hire.”

Now let me begin by saying Trapper is a cowboy.  From the crown of his 30X beaver hat to the tips of his high-topped, hand-stitched, pointy-toed boots, he was born a cowboy and will always be a cowboy and I truly believe that someday someone will find his cold, dead carcass still upright in the saddle, refusing to fall off a horse even in death. 

Now some people might have been appalled at these words.  Some may have been insulted, but coming from a man like Trapper I knew this was high praise and when he said his goodbyes I ran for the baby book and quickly jotted down this profound quote, immortalizing the words for all time.

So the next time your trapped in an awkward situation and at a loss for words, just remember this simple quote and you will be forever known as the fascinating, witty life of the party, just like our buddy Trapper.

This isn’t Trapper but it is one of my favorite photos of DJ and his Great Grandfather Russell who farmed and ranched in South Dakota most of his life. 

Miss you Grandpa!


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This is Maggie. 

Maggie is a good horse.  She is the kind of horse we call a ‘babysitter’.

And Maggie is worth her weight in gold.

We bought Maggie about 11 years ago for our youngest son, Morgan, when he was 8 years old.

Maggie has put up with a lot (to say the least).

Maggie more than paid for herself the first time we took her for a ride.  It was a beautiful evening as we trailed through the hills, following the valleys behind our house.  My baby had been on horseback before but had never had a horse of his own so we kept it slow and easy.   As we rode, we surprised a couple of bull elk who watched us for a moment before disappearing into the timber.  It had been a good summer and the grass was high and thick so when Maggie suddenly stopped in her tracks I wasn’t sure what the problem was.  Even though the small boy on her back kicked and cussed she stood perfectly still, refusing to move.  So I stepped off my horse and walked over to see what was wrong.  I was amazed to find that all 4 of her feet were tangled in a twisted piece of woven wire. 

Most horses would have shieded, some would have blown up but Maggie calmly stood there as I untangled her, letting me pick up her feet one at a time she waited patiently for me to pull the wire from the tall grass. 

As I lead her away I hugged her neck, scratched her ears and thanked her for taking care of my baby.  When we got back to the house Maggie got an extra ration of oats. 

It’s a rare gift to find a horse you can trust like that.

Maggie has always taken care of my babies.  She loves kids, women and oatmeal cookies but doesn’t really like to carry heavy men unless she has to.  She allows kids to crawl under her belly or slide off the back of her rump and will load herself into a horse trailer if you leave the door open, but don’t ever ride a horse too close behind her as she will sometimes kick. 

Here’s Maggie and her favorite kid all grown up.

Maggie likes to work calves.

She doesn’t mind when the rope hits her.

And she’s good at her job. 

She even looks pretty spiffy for her age.

She even goes to the mountains hunting.

Got elk?

You just got to love a good horse!

And we love this one – she’s our little Mag-pie.




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I’ll bet you’re wondering if I’ll ever get around to talking about ranching – aren’t you?

Well here goes.

This is winter – so there isn’t much that goes on around here except feeding cattle, horses and every other manner of animal that lives here (including us).  It can be exciting but how about some photos of working cattle from summertime instead?

These are cowboys.  Some are fast…  Some are slow… 

The fast ones usually last longer.  The slow ones end up bruised and hurting.

This is my honey.  He’s moving the branding irons around so they get nice and hot.  That’s my Dad running the gate and a neighbor checking the ear tags.  We use either a tag in the ear or one in the brisket (under their neck) to help identify our cattle.  There are also ear tags that are treated with pesticides to keep the flies away from the cattle.

Here’s some of our babies waiting for their turn.  I’ve often wondered what’s going through their minds.

“What are they doing?  Can I go first?  Do I really want to go first?  Where’s my Mom?  How do I get out of this chicken outfit?”

This is Butch – my husband’s cousin. 

“OK little guy – your turn.”

  “But I don’t want to go!”

Holy buckets of milk replacer, Batman!!!

Where did all these cowboys come from?

This way of working calves is called ‘Dragging ’em’.  You use a rope and a horse to drag them out of the pen (even though occasionally they will run you over on their way out) and to the waiting cowboys who flank them (you reach over the top of the calf, grab him by the flank right in front of their back leg and lift them off their feet and roll them over onto their sides).  Sounds easy – I usually don’t do this as most of the calves out weigh me. 

Here, Butch is waiting for Kyle (it’s good to have big friends) to untie his rope so he can go get another calf.  Slade ( the muscular kid on the left) is holding the back legs of the calf – can be a messy job take the other end if at all possible.  Richard (in the middle) is getting ready to castrate the little guy – another messy job.  DJ (our oldest son in the chaps) is holding down the head of the calf (this end usually makes lots of noise but little else).  John (another neighbor) is moving in to give a shot and here comes Hubby with a hot branding iron. 

It’s a well-oiled machine.

Here comes Grandpa Bud with the ear tags.  It only takes about 3-5 minutes per calf if everything goes right. 

Sometimes it doesn’t…

Here’s the little one that got away before he got his shot.

But we always get them – sooner or later and pretty soon everybody’s back with mama.  Then it’s time to put things away and head to the house for lunch.

It’s good to have lots of help.

Can you tell – we’ve started a little remodel job on the house?

Thank goodness the house doesn’t look like this anymore.  It’s amazing what a little sheet rock can do .

Branding day is a big event with lots of neigbors, friends and food.  And it’s a great time to check out all the sweet new babies running around the place.


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