Really, who would have thought, the Nature of Horses part 4.
I was never interested in making my blog a horse training blog and I am not trying to with the ‘Nature of Horses part 4’, mostly sharing my thoughts and lifetime experiences with horses; specific horses in some instances. If anything I write helps or is enjoyable or both then that’s awesome; that’s my goal.
This picture is my wife and I riding in the mountains east of Boise Idaho. We were trying to time it so we were riding out in the evening as the sunset and the moon came up; we got it done. My wife’s friend Stacie was riding with us and was the photographer. I’m too busted up anymore to turn completely around and look at the camera so that was the best I could do. I’d rather look at my bride any day than the camera.
She’s on her Rebel horse, the horse I was originally cussing as I started the Nature of Horses; he is a great trail horse and she loves to ride him. It took them a few years to get their differences resolved but they are pretty good partners today.
I’m sitting on Superman; he’s the last foal of my Two Socks mare. She was a fleet footed, wild eyed mare that I bought from a friend of mine out of Southwest Montana. She was about like riding a twister; take off was exciting if a bit unpredictable and you never knew where you might set down. I did win enough off of her to put me out of the amateur division in the Inter-mountain Reined Cow Horse Association; that was back in the mid 90’s.
Two Socks produced 10 foals for us. We had some bad luck with a few of them but we also had 3 full brother’s out of her crossed on our Colonel Freckles, Remenic stud. Batman, Gambler and Superman, all are awesome. I guess I should say ‘were’ in Batman’s case; he laid down and died on us the spring of 2014, he was 11 years old. Heartbreak comes with owning horses. It was colic. We had the colic under control at least we thought, then the microbes shifted and he was down and feverish. Anyone that knows anything about horses knows that a fever is never good and most times fatal. Yes I wanted to cry but it was to no avail. They are big, powerful, unpredictable and dangerous animals; aside from that they are magnificent and can break your heart as well as the bank.
A few evenings ago my wife and I were sitting in our cowboy Jacuzzi, a hundred gallon trough filled with water and she pointed to a scar on my left leg and said one word; “Cody?” I replied with one word; “yes.”
We bought Cody in the late 90’s for a potential stud and to show in the Reined Cow-horse events. I never got him shown and we only got one foal out of him. That foal was out of my Two Socks mare.
Two Socks was King and Three Bars blood lines, so nothing contemporary but great foundation. Crossed on our Colonel Freckles, Remenic stud her colts were great. We bred her to 5 different studs and she never produced a bad foal.
Cody was one of the nicest 2 year olds I have ever started but one of the biggest pricks as a 3 year old that I ever threw a leg over. Coming into his 4th year he straightened out. We gelded him the spring he was 3. He had plenty of talent along with attitude but he had some developmental issues and we had no desire to pass any of it on to our herd; reproducing wasn’t in the cards for Cody; the one foal we got from him wasn’t planned.
The scar on my leg happened the winter of 2000. It was a very nice January day that I threw my kak, saddle, on him, slipped a snaffle bit in his mouth and headed out my back yard.
It is about 9 miles one way where we run our horses in the winter and before we had so many neighbors we use to run them in every spring. Literally ‘RUN’; at least the first half. Most times we would have them aired out enough to slow to a trot by the time we got home. Occasionally one of our boys would rope a youngster out and change gear over and finish the ride.
That winter day I was heading out to check horses and put some miles on Cody. He threw a stud horse fit as I turned the corner of my fence. He pitched a couple of times then went straight up on his hind legs. Whether his legs collapsed as it was his hocks that had been the development problem, or he slipped on the ice I can’t verify but down he came over backwards on top of me. The horn and the cantle missed me but my left leg was pinned under him. I felt fortunate at that point that I wasn’t injured but as he scrambled to his feet he fell over twice more. The first blow hit my shin and the second blow hit my calf muscle splitting the muscle but not breaking the skin. The blow on my shin never split the skin but the damage to the bone would take 4 months to heal and at least a half a dozen go rounds with antibiotics.
Less than a month after my wreck with Cody I jumped in with Bert Landon and we headed to Memphis with a load of high dollar cutting mares bred to a high dollar stud. We grabbed a few from Greg Smith’s place in Bellevue Idaho and headed to Tucson Arizona to pick up another one then on to Weatherford Texas. When we got to Memphis they had decided to have some of those mares foal out at Weatherford so we headed back that way. Four days and 4000 miles later we were home. Hauling horses with Bert was always an adventure.
The first time I went with him years before this trip he was healing up from a broken hip from a horse accident; this trip I was healing up. Whatever our circumstances were, whoever was busted up at the time, we were always good company for one another. Bert passed away to pancreatic cancer around 2008; he was a great friend.
Before I jumped in with him I went to the doc and got a shot of penicillin, I was already on an oral antibiotic but felt like I needed a boost; it helped.
I was using a cane to get around as my leg had shriveled up and I was only able to walk on my toe. I couldn’t straighten it and use it normally. After being off of it for a few days I was able to start using it better but it was far from healed.
Two months later Dr Wells opened my leg up as I had a thumb sized lump where Cody had hit my shin with the saddle horn. The calf muscle was healing nicely but the bruise on my shin was now the problem. More than once that winter I had red streaks going down my leg into my foot and Doc Martin as we called him, he was a PA, suggested that if we didn’t get the infection under control that we could just cut my leg off; BTK, bellow the knee. I wasn’t sure how serious he was but I told him if that was my only option that we needed to do it in time for me to get use to a prosthetic as I had a flying season soon to be on me. I don’t believe he thought I was any funnier than I thought he was. We, meaning the Doc, the PA and myself saved my leg.
When Doc Wells opened up my leg he packed it like you would a bullet wound with something that looked like umbilical tape soaked in iodine and hydrogen peroxide. The hole in my leg ran down hill towards my foot and I think a drain hole at the bottom would have been better but I wasn’t the Doc. After a couple of visits to the Doc I was able to clean, pack and bandage it myself and eventually with antibiotics and both the Doc and PA’s help it healed.
One minor part to the story was when Jessica, our youngest daughter and I were at Independence California later that spring branding cattle with John Lacey and crew I was sitting on the tailgate of my pickup packing the hole in my leg with Jessica assisting me when one of the crew walked by. It was evening and we were all getting ready to eat. I can’t remember who it was but as he went to say ‘howdy’ he gagged on the words as he saw what we were doing. I don’t think he enjoyed his supper that evening.
My leg healed up eventually and has never bothered me from those particular wounds.
That spring sometime around April, Kamron, our youngest son and I were helping a friend of ours sort pairs and Blackjack a horse that our son Scott owned blew up on me and bucked for a long time. I’m pretty sure that 8 seconds went by several times before he quit. He didn’t go ‘high wide and fancy’ but he hit the ground like a four legged jack hammer. I got him rode but lost my left stirrup as that was my sore leg. I felt like my spine was at least 2 inches shorter than when I woke up that morning. Blackjack was 5 that spring and stood 15.3 hands and weighed in at around 1200 pounds.
Getting back to Cody. The fall before all of this happened I entered my first Cowboy Mounted Shooting competition. By the fall of 2000 Cody had turned around and was doing awesome. I placed in shooting competitions on him gathering enough points to go to the World competition in Scottsdale Arizona and we ended up selling Cody there for a good price. The only down side was that the folks that bought him wouldn’t let me shoot off of him after the sale. In retrospect I should have held off on the sale until after the competition. To add insult to injury they claimed to have trained him for mounted shooting. Horse folks can be rather despicable at times. The horse’s with all of their issues at least have a certain amount of honesty; for the most part.
I never created my issues with Cody just tried to work around things and bring his fullest potential out. But!!!!
How often have we seen riders create problems, with the horse, then blame the horse? The same winter that Cody flipped over on me I was riding in the feedlot at Grandview Idaho for JR, Jack Simplot as he was known to the world. I would usually ride from the first of December to the first of March; the 3 nastiest months to ride there but the only ones that I was available. One of my coworkers was a young Mexican named Jose.
One day as we were bringing our sick cattle to one of the hospitals Jose picked a fight with a horse that I had started for the feedlot. Goose was what the cowboys had named him and he was a hell of a horse but he was hot, bronco and a bit wild. He was past the age to be rode on a bosal but that was Jose’s choice of equipment for that morning. To add to the drama Jose rode with a loose cinch.
In addition to putting our pulls, as we called our sick cattle, in a hospital to be doctored by the Vet crew, we were heading in for lunch. Jose galloped down to set some gates and Goose got ‘chargey’, thinking he was heading for the barn. Jose lost his temper and started ripping on Goose’s head with the bosal doubling him to the left. After about the second or third spin, Jose and his saddle were at the 90 degrees and Goose simply reached up with a hind foot and knocked Jose to the ground. The saddle turned under his belly and he left the country like he was headed home to Wickahoney where he grew up. Jose was on the ground not moving so I hollered at one of the crew to check on him as I followed Goose down the alley and cornered him at a hay shed. He was wild eyed and on the fight so it took me a second to calm him down. Eventually I got my hands on him and settled him down enough to get the saddle off and reset. When I got back to Jose and the rest of the riders, he was up and somewhat coherent. I wasn’t sure he should ride in, mostly as I knew if he lost his temper again Goose might kill hm rather than just knock hm to the ground.
So who’s fault was it? I’m not the person that thinks that the horse is never wrong but in this case I would have to say that Jose created his own problem. He was young and hot tempered and defensive. Aside from that he was a good hand in many ways but that particular moment losing his temper was not in his best interest. Riding Goose with a bosal was not his best decision either.
When I started Goose I don’t recall him trying hard to make a ‘lawn dart’ out of me but he was exceptionally strong willed and as a 3 year old he was a ‘hell of a horse’; it was going to take a lot of miles to get him broke. The first outside ride I put on him I used my draw reins. After that he was good in a snaffle bit but if he would have got the best of me on that first outside ride it would have been bad for both of us. Eventually he became a favorite of the feedlot cowboys.
This post is getting rather long but I have one more story that will fit nicely with it.
Several years ago I was watching the RFD channel and a couple of older cowboys from the Scottsdale Arizona area were talking about horses and helping folks get along with horses. One of them related a story, I will try to do it as a dialogue.
Cowboy; “So what seems to be the problem”?
Lady; “He just gets all jittery and worked up when I team pen off him”.
They visited back and forth for a minute. All of her team penning competitions were on Saturday.
Cowboy; “Well it sounds like you’re warming him up and doing as much as you can do to help. How does he behave when you ride him other days of the week”?
Lady; “I don’t ride him any other day, just Saturday; do you suppose he just doesn’t like Saturdays”?
I’m not sure what they talked about after that. If I had that cowboy’s name I would give him credit, it was awesome.
I believe he understood ‘THE NATURE OF HORSES’.