We have had many requests for a cowgirl clinic from time to time, and so we are holding the first one on December 5 – 11. It seems that women, who have an almost mystical rapport with horses, are now wishing to learn more about the art of handling cattle as well, as witness the many female guests we have joining us for our cattle round-ups. And so we are launching a cowgirl clinic – if you’re going to come and help at round-up time, you may as well be thoroughly educated, yes? The program includes introduction to horses and horsemanship, mastering all gaits and riding patterns, a taste of controlled speed, such as barrel racing, pole bending and horseback games, to start, and then – Meet the Cows! Learn how to move, gather, herd and in short, influence the bovine mind. Cows are very interesting animals, and for those of you who think of them only as the source of milk and that dinner steak, you are missing out on a lot of good information, if not to say companionship. I know, as I live with a herd of them, and as I also have two bovine friends, cows Clementine and Twiggy, who are a never ending source of interest for me. Come and join us and learn how to communicate with a species which, in the past, you had perhaps never thought of as potential friends! Call (800.245.9202) or e-mail Bonnie for details.
A trustworthy horse can provide invaluable therapy for people caught up in a hectic pace. Riding can help a person shed stress and stop the mental conversations that cause it. Few experiences equal a trail ride in the fresh air, especially if there is gorgeous scenery.… There is nothing quite like a rein-swinging walk to lull a person back into natural rhythms; nothing like a brisk trot with its metronome-like quality to invigorate one physically; nothing like a rollicking canter cross-country to rekindle the sensations of freedom.
And, talking of four legged friends, for those of you who live with your dogs in the city, don’t feel bad that your doggy buddies never get to be out in the country. Think of it as a definite plus – if they can’t get out to where they can find something dead, they can’t roll in it. My Tuffy, the other night, as I was leaving to go to dinner at Grapevine, appeared out of the darkness smelling powerfully of what I call “Dead Cow Number 5”. It was more than gagging – it was so horrific that I grabbed the weapon nearest at hand, the garden hose, and turned it full on her furry body. It took the worst of it off, but enough lingered by the time I got to dinner some 15 minutes late, that all evening I was reminded of the pleasant prospect of a doggy bath awaiting us – preceded by the trip home, with all windows open. Why do dogs love to do that! You would think that with their famous smellers they would be worse off than we are – ergo, it must follow, that to them it’s not a bad smell at all, it’s a lovely, lovely smell, one to be pursued and smeared into every furry crevice with loving attention to detail. Next morning revealed the fact that it was not Dead Cow, but Dead Deer Number 5, as evidenced by a short, chewed up, and exceedingly stinky leg. I picked it up and flung it as far away as I could into the horse pasture, but Tuffy quickly retrieved it, and loved on it the rest of the day. Thankfully, by day three the smell suddenly and completely dissipated. But it’s enough to make one paranoid – the mountains are full of deer – and coyotes, and now wandering hunters – what else might she bring home?I mentioned last time that I had been looking forward to my long awaited vacation at Pinos Alto near Silver City, New Mexico. The great attraction of the place, apart from the fact that the cabins where we stayed are set among tall, whispering pines (Pinos Altos, duh!!) was the fact that they allowed dogs, and so Tuffy was able to come. I was hoping that a prolonged car trip with some fun involved would finally cure her of her dreadful habit of throwing herself, in terror, on top of my feet on the vehicle controls, so causing much panic in me and any passengers. The last time it happened we were, thank goodness, on a less than busy blacktop road with a couple of good friends from the UK, and the few seconds it took for Annette to pull Tuffy off my feet while we barreled down that road, out of control, will live in my memory for some time to come! This time I wisely sat in the back seat with her, and let Craig do the driving. Apart from some panicked crawling-down-to-my-feet moments, she seemed to accept the fact that she would survive the trip – and hopefully, will be better next time I want to take her somewhere. One of the places we visited was the site of an old gold mine known as The Catwalk – a fascinating place! Gold had been discovered at the top of a very narrow canyon, little more than a very deep fissure in the rocks, and, as the smelter had to be built well downstream, at the mouth of the canyon, a catwalk clinging to the sheer rocky walls had been constructed by the miners of the 1800’s for the water line needed to bring water to the smelter and the settlement below. Later the Forest Service built a solid, metal catwalk up the canyon, and it was fascinating to walk along in the shadow of those sheer rock walls, and imagine the pluck and hard work that built the original. The walk was enlivened for me by Tuffy, who came along on a retractable leash. As we walked along the metal grid walkway, suddenly Tuff spied the bottom of the canyon far below her, where the creek bed suddenly fell off some 10 ft. or more, and I guess that for a moment she felt she was about to step into that hole herself. She let out, not a doggy yelp, but a genuine scream, almost a human scream, of alarm, before she realized that she wasn’t going to fall through after all – but I noticed that from then on she stepped very gingerly on the slatted metal floor. As I am currently re-reading Temple Grandin’s wonderful book “Animals in Translation”, I was well psyched up to interpret her doggy scream. Perhaps the smelly deer leg was pay-back time? We celebrated my birthday while in our little log cabin at Pinos Altos. The name of the place is Bear Creek Cabins, and, in one of life’s weird coincidences, as we were checking out at the office, I found that the daughter of the current owner is none other than Gerry’s grandniece! A small world indeed – I had no idea she was there. My birthday cake was a marshmallow with a candle stuck in it – appropriate to the occasion in that, apart from the fact that having a birthday is still better than not having it, this was not one that I had been particularly looking forward to. Undoubtedly, young was better! And to think that I remember, very distinctly, being extremely unhappy about turning 40! (And my mother recalled thinking “poor old man”, when her father turned forty!) I guess all things are relative – I certainly don’t feel old! But, just as a precaution against creeping senility, I have determined to ride every day now, and to blazes with the office! To this end I took out Chikala yesterday, for a lovely ride, apart from the fact that I used too light a bit and we had a bit of a tussle as to who was in charge. To his four year old brain it seemed that he should be, and, somewhat unsportingly, to me it was clear that I was. Luckily he is not a combative horse, so all was well, but the bridle will be changed out before the next ride! Today I took out Scotty, the champion spooker – and we had a fun outing, after we determined that the grain silo, which has been there since the day he was born, was not going to eat him, and neither were the bushes, nor the sound of Tuffy rustling in the undergrowth.
Quite a few return guests have been coming back, and it’s so much fun to pick up where we left off last year, or the year before – or sometimes, many years before – but friendship does not wither, and however long it’s been, it’s fun to reconnect! And the leaves are changing color, and we are having a truly lovely fall!