Take, for instance, the stirrup – we are always suggesting – or insisting, for the sake of safety – that riders new to the western saddle should lengthen their stirrups, and often it‘s a battle. People insist that they don’t feel safe, that their balance is all off, that they can’t ride that way – and yet, when they do lengthen the stirrups, they find a whole new world of comfort.
And, of course, there are other differences and so it occurred to me that perhaps we would do both the horses and the riders a favor if we ran a short little clinic on the differences between the so called English style and the western style of riding. Apart from the actual riding it also includes some of the nomenclature of western riding – why, for instance, do you ride with a loose rein, and what the heck is a bosal? Or why is a lariat called that?
There is so much history of riding in the development of the western discipline, and it’s a shame that a lot of people regard it merely as some sort of cowboy way of slouching on a horse. Of course, you know it isn’t if you ever watch a reining competition, or follow the sport of cutting, and, furthermore, it’s a favor to yourself and the horse if you learn to do it right.
And now, onto other news….. Having pets is about as stressful as having kids, I think! Last Sunday I went for my usual horseback ride and took Tuffy along. Luckily I was also accompanied by Barn Boss Sarah, who has the same days off as I do, and who often rides with. We had a great ride – I am alternating my horses these days, and, luckily, it was Chikala’s turn. Chikala, you may remember, is my 16 hands plus black and white pinto, named after the favorite war horse of Chief Crazy Horse, who was also a black and white pinto. I say luckily, because in view of what happened – I don’t think that prima donna Scotty would have handled
the situation as well.
this ranch I have never seen a coati – and I sure hope never to see one again!
And all this talk about things not seen brings me to another point that I’ve been meaning to address here for some time. I am getting sick and tired of the hullaballoo the press is making about the illegal problems here on the border. Granted that there may be problems in areas where the border happens to be through a wilderness which cannot be traversed by vehicular traffic, and so the border patrol is restricted to horseback operations, but here where we are, and along a lot of the border near Tucson, we see no illegal activity. Naturally, all this constant uproar is unlikely to make people want to come and visit – I know that one of our member
ranches in the Arizona Dude Rancher’ Association, whose ranch is right on the border so that their fence is actually the border fence, is having huge problems with this image, and ironically, no other problems! Truly, I think that a lot of our troubles in this country are thanks to the media and their passion for selling soap, no matter if the truth gets twisted in the process! So if you have been thinking you would like to come and visit us and have hesitated because of this constant drum beat of bad news on television and in the press, forget it, and come right along. Anyone crossing the border who wants to get further inland has to be nearer roads, and has no desire to be bushwhacking through the rocky, mountainous Dragoons – not for nothing did the Apaches make these mountains their hide out! You have to know the trails to be able to make your way through them, and it’s a long way without water and food! As a consequence of these constant press reports, the vast majority of our guests are Europeans, who are not blessed with our television coverage, and who therefore come and have a good time – what a shame that American guests should be so affected by the media. I have thought for a long time that the media, in general, will be the downfall of the USA. This has been bothering me for a long time and I am glad to get it off my chest!
And this reminds me of a long ago incident in my youth. In my young adult life I lived in Australia, and while still living with my parents, we had some good friends who were also Czech, who had also emigrated to Australia. The gentleman, about my father’s age, was once telling me a story about his youth. He had, as a teenager, been very impressed by the glamour of being a newspaper man, and wanted to become a reporter. To this end he took a summer job as some sort of assistant to the editor of the local town newspaper. This was many years before computers, of course, and one of this jobs was the lay-out of the front page. One day he could not get it to fit, and, try as he might, there was a small space left with nothing to put in it. Frustrated, he went to his boss. He explained the problem, but the editor wasn’t a bit fazed. “Here”, he said, “give it to me”, and he scribbled something on a bit of paper. “Put this in there” he said. My friend took a look at the copy and read: “Students rioting in Afghanistan……” etc. “Oh” he said, impressed by his boss’s knowledge, “Are they, really??’ “Oh, who knows!” his boss said easily, “but it’ll fill the space!” Following this, my friend said, he abandoned his newspaper career and, when he left school, went into engineering. His little story, however, left me with enough of an impression of the ethics of the press to last me a lifetime, and, sadly, it is too true.
So with this tirade over, come and visit us! The weather is lovely, the mountains are lush and grass covered, and the cows are fat. What more can you wish for?