Having Pets is About as Stressful as Having Kids

Horsemanship Clinic

Some time back I got to chatting with some of our UK guests and we talked about how awkward it can be to transition from English riding to the Western. As one who had begun my riding life in the so called English style, then transitioned to the Australian saddle, and then to the Western, I can identify with the difficulties one can have.

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.

Anyway – we decided to incorporate all this into a clinic – and here it is! Check it out on the Specials section of our web page, under the Specials section, or click here.

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.

White-Nosed Coatamundi

We had almost finished our ride and decided to come back via the Gap Trail, which goes by the Spooky Tank. It was a really cold day – unusual here for us, and particularly so as we’ve had such a wonderful warm fall so far. Sunday was more than cold – a freezing wind was blowing as well, and Sarah and I were happy to be getting near home. We rode around the Spooky and came up to the gate on the dam, when dog Tuff suddenly took off on a mad dash across the rocks on the east side of the tank. When she is on a mission like that generally no amount of calling and yelling will bring her back, so we rode up there to see what she had. To my horror, she had treed a large coatimundi, which had, for some reason – as they are nocturnal animals – left home, and been peacefully crossing the hillside. We yelled and whistled and then scrambled up there horseback, just in time to see the coati shin up a tree, followed, incredibly, by Tuff, who climbed right up behind it. (I must say the tree was leaning over at a angle to the ground which was how she was able to make it up there, but still, it was quite a feat) While we were watching and yelling and whistling, we saw the coatimundi make a vicious swipe with one of its well clawed feet and saw Tuff come tumbling down off the tree. Coatis are known for being able to disembowel a dog with their hind feet – and Sarah, who had been a veterinary technician in a past life, didn’t make it any better by telling me that they also slash across a dog’s throat and often cut its jugular. Tuffy came off the tree and ran off into the scrub and we could see that she was, indeed, bleeding. Sarah baled off her horse and ran up and caught her and brought her back, and we could see that she did have a nasty slash across her throat. To cut a long and gory story short, the coati tore her throat in three places with its three claws, and just missed her jugular by a hair’s breadth. We called Danny to come with the Polaris, and Sarah carried her across the dam to the nearest negotiable trail where we could meet him. Just as we got there, by complete coincidence, here came Meagan with her ride – and, being the ultra professional wrangler, resourceful and Girl Scout prepared, she had, in her saddle bag, a medicine bag complete with sterile packs and bandages. Sarah managed to staunch the bleeding by wrapping up Tuff’s neck, and then Danny came along, and they put Tuff into the back of the Polaris, where Sarah held her. I ponied her filly back to the ranch, and here was where I was grateful for good tempered, co-operative Chikala, instead of bossy, domineering Scotty – I was able to lead Sarah’s Millie by her rein with no problem, even given the fact that Millie is not the calmest of horses, and was already upset by the entire goings on.


We took Tuff to my good friend, veterinarian Dr. Mary, who just happened to be in Willcox near her clinic, and she sewed Tuffy up. She was a lucky little dog. We spent an uneasy evening, she and I, with her drugged from the anesthetic – but today she is back to her old self. and I am just about three hundred years older and dollars poorer for the experience. In 30 years of living on
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?

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5 Responses to Having Pets is About as Stressful as Having Kids

  1. Bill Reed says:


    As always you speak your mind. I agree the Media makes things worse than they are. For everyone out there that is thinking about visiting AZ or GC Ranch, don’t listen to the media. I have visited GC 5 times and planning my 6th. I have never come across any Illegals crossing the land on or near GC and I have taken every day ride. So if you want a good time take a visit and see some nice people and great country side.

  2. Penny says:

    The media is like everything else. It’s all about the $.
    Oh, I hope Tuffy is alright now?
    Happy Trails and Tails, Penny, TX

  3. Eve says:

    Hi Penny – yes, thanks, Tuff is OK – when we came back from the vet’s office,all she wanted to do was to go the coati’s funeral – I had to be carefeul to keep her home. She’s still bandaged up but healing well.

    And Bill – thanks for the comment,. I often wonder how much more peaceful my life would be if I threw out the television. When the OJ trial was on in the 80’s, lightning hit our house and fried the TV set. We got another one to watch movies, but didn’t reconnect to the world – and life was beyond peaceful for a few years. Why do we do these things to ourselves!!!!

  4. Jacquie says:

    Eve, I’m so sorry to hear about Tuffy. I hope she has mended well. That must have been quite scary. I had no idea that Coatis could be so harmful to a dog. My Shepherd once got beat up rather badly by a javelina but you would sort of expect that. Coatis look so small and defenseless. You were fortunate to have so many people around you to help.How wonderful to have so many well prepared and trained people at the ranch.

    All the best,

  5. Eve says:

    Hi Jacquie – thanks, Tuff is doing great, and I notice that on the last few rides she has stuck pretty close to me, so hopefully she learnt a lesson. And I would think that coatis are worse than javelinas, but who knows! When you are a small, aggressive dog and don’t mind your own business, I guess everything out there is potentially harmful.

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