Horses - Part 2

          Always respect a horse.  Always respect their strength and power, agility, and speed.  Do not become careless around horses. Do not surprise a horse.  Always let them know what you’re doing, where you are. Never walk behind a horse without first gently putting your hand on their rump and letting them know you’re moving behind them.  Don’t use quick abrupt or jerky movements around horses.  Horses like the gentle feel of a hand, they like gentle firm pressure, pats and strokes and rubbings.  They don’t respect fear in a person.  They respect calmness and gentle firmness.  If you’re nervous, they get nervous.  If you’re calm they become more calm.

            Horse’s respond to good manners and a sort of indirect approach.  They don’t like you staring at them or too bold of an introduction.  They like to be part of initiating a friendship.  They are inquisitive.  Give them a chance to warm up to you slowly.  They want to smell you, hear you.  Don’t rush a horse.  Don’t be in a hurry.  Get acquainted at an easy pace.  Once they get to know you, and trust you they will allow you to do things in a hurry if you have to, they understand.  It’s OK, they cut you some slack, because they trust you.  Trust takes time.

            My friend Ty taught me a principle. I needed one of my horses caught, I was too crippled up to do it, so Ty walked out in the pasture and tried to walk up on Skinny. Skinny wouldn’t come to him and ran off. We didn’t have oats to coax him. Ty turned his back towards the horse and just stood still.  It wasn’t long till Skinny slowly approached Ty from behind and walked right up to him, Ty pretty much ignored him.  Pretty soon Skinny was smelling him, getting to know him. Finally, Ty slowly reached his hand up and gently touched Skinny on the neck and stroked him a little. They were becoming acquainted.  Soon Skinny allowed Ty to gently slip a baling twine around his neck that he was holding in his hand and tied a knot and gently lead Skinny up and out of the pasture.  I was impressed.  Ty knew horses a lot better than I did.  He was a Florida Cowboy, he’d been raised on the largest cow calf ranch in the U.S. near Mcloud, Florida.  He’s a foreman on a Montana ranch now out of Glendive, Montana. 

                   I don’t think there’s another feeling quite like that of riding a good horse in the hills and mountains.  It’s a real pleasure to be able to enjoy the passing scenery while moving along at a good pace.  Your big strong friend carries you wherever you want to go, he does all the work, he crosses the streams so your boots stay dry, walks in the snow, the mud, the rocks, the grass, and the brush.  You don’t trip, stumble, or fall, you don’t twist your ankle, stub your toe, slip or slide or have to carry a pack and stop and rest a lot.  He goes, goes, and goes.  Then goes some more.  Sure he has to stop and rest too, but you’re not breathin’ hard.  He does all this work, just for you.  How can you not love him?  How can you not enjoy riding this amazing animal?  If you have to go 30 miles in a day- he will take you there.  If you had to go another 30 miles the next day- he will take you there.  That’s a mighty tall order, that not many have to fill, but they will if you ask it.  Cavalry soldiers knew it, sometimes they had to do that very thing.  Ninety miles is a long day.  You don’t want to ask that much of any horse, or man but it has been done.  You have to respect horses, and admire them, and yes, love them- they are amazing.

            Draft horses are incredible.  The power they possess is awesome.  Here in Star Valley there are many ranchers and farmers that still use draft horses to pull their hay sleds to feed the cattle.  Sleds loaded with a ton or two or more of hay through deep snow till all the hay is scattered, the cattle fed. They are dripping with sweat, even in sub-zero weather. These big boned, solid muscle horses command utmost respect and admiration.  It’s a grand feeling to hold the reins and drive a team like that.  The weather beaten faces of the cowboys and ranchers that drive those teams may not show a lot of feeling or emotion as they drive those big teams, but you know they love and admire them and are very proud of them.  I can still hear Wilford Clark talking about his teams, and he loved to put them to work.  It was always a joy to him.  Almost to the day he died he harnessed his teams for their winter work.  I loved going with him. 

            Training horses to do a job, and seeing and feeling them do it, and do it well, is one of the finer pleasures of life for horsemen. And I must not leave out the many women and girls that derive the same pleasure from the same thing. In some ways, I think that women can communicate with horses to a finer degree than men.  Horses love women especially those that appreciate and understand them.

            The American Indians were horse lovers and horse trainers to a very high degree.  They depended on horses for many necessary things, hunting, travel, war, and freight.  A prized buffalo or war horse was even sheltered in a teepee during terrible storms.  They held a place of high honor and their worth could go very high.

            The tremendous worth of racing horses, work horses, rodeo horses, polo horses, cow horses, cutting horses, police horses, royalty horses, pulling horses, show horses, jumping horses, etc., speaks very well for them.  They are a highly prized animal and highly loved, and extremely useful.  In my estimation, they are an evidence of the existence of a creator. They are too beautiful, too useful, too well designed to have evolved from some primordial slime by accident.  I could never buy that. Only an extremely intelligent powerful and loving being could have designed and created such a masterpiece as a horse.


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