Wednesday, September 3, 2014

home again, home again.

My friend bought this shirt... and it still makes me giggle.

I made it back in one piece and now I need a vacation to recover from my vacation. Isn't that always the way?  I spent Thursday morning packing up the rest of the things we needed for our adventure while my husband finished up some work for his job in the house. We loaded the horses up without incident and hit the road at about noon. We crossed the entire state of North Dakota and ended up at the ranch we were camping at early in the evening. We unloaded the horses, and tucked them into their corrals for the night and went to visit our friends. And they feed us the best darn ribs I've ever had in my life. Life was good.
The ponies accommodations for the week.
The Badlands have received much more rain than usual this summer. The trails were pretty wet, and the temperature wasn’t supposed to be extremely hot, so we took a ride later in the day. We rode with our friends, and then a few of the other people we were camping near. We ended up having a larger group. All the horses were being pretty well behaved… except mine. Cash was being an idiot and started to buffalo me. Clearly, he is testing me to see what he can get away with. And me being a big chicken with zero confidence was letting him test me. At one point, his buddy Duke was a little ways ahead of us and as we were going down a hill that wasn’t extremely steep, but it wasn’t exactly flat either. He dropped his head and started humping up a bit like he was going to buck. Fun. I got him out of it, and we continued on. But he did it again later, after Duke went on ahead to open the gate. At that point I was shaken up, and he was prancing around like the ground was hot lava, so the husband and I decided to split off from the group and head back to camp. We had already ridden through some pretty sketchy areas so I was done for the day. The ride back to the ranch was pretty un eventful, except for the horse eating culvert. He didn’t blow up or anything, he just kind of hopped to the side and then continued on his way.
"I gotta be first! I gotta be first! Why am I not first?!"

We stopped to wait for the others to catch up and to take a breather.
Our ride for the day.

 I was riding him with spurs on, which is what his previous owners told us he needs. But the problem is that I can’t tell where my spurs are when I ride. When I gave him a little kick, my spur never came in contact with him. I am going to try him again with no spurs, and then with a pair of bumper spurs just to see if I can get him to listen a bit better. When we were riding around after we got back. He decided he was done listening completely after I tried to ride him away from his buddy. He is really buddy sour. So we have some work to do. Clearly. We did end on a good note. And as much as I wanted to just let him loose into the badlands, I put him back in his corral.
I was the only one in our group wearing a helmet. And I was the only one in the campground wearing a crash vest. After the husband and I split off from the group and went back to camp, my friend had told some of the people that they were riding with that I sometimes feel embarrassed to wear a helmet and crash vest when I ride (and I do feel embarrassed sometimes). The response she got was "Why? She's smarter than any of us!" That seems to be the general response I get when I wear my gear. I don't know why I feel so embarrassed about it.
I'm gonna ride my horse... but first. Let me take a selfie. 

Best show in the West! Well, that's what they keep telling me.

Friday night we headed into town to the Medora Musical. All about the history of the area, and about Harold Schafer, the person who rejuvenated the town and turned it into the awesome little tourist town it is! P.S. he was the inventor of 'Mr. Bubble' bubble bath... The more you know right?! Also North Dakota Attorney General was in the audience, just down a few rows from us. That was pretty cool. They announced it during the show. North Dakota isn't that small where we all know each other.. which I KNOW people probably think about us.. I honestly would have no clue what he looked like, or that he was there if they hadn't announced it.

 After all that fun and excitement we headed into town to the Little Missouri Saloon. Of course I would pick the table that had saddles for stools. I mean, why not right? It's not like I hadn't spend enough time in the saddle yet. My husbands cousin was bar tending so we got to briefly visit with him. 
Who knew that saddle horns were perfect purse holders? I bet that's what the old cowboys used them for...

Saturday we went riding with a smaller group. We also took an easier more relaxing trail. The trail we rode on Friday wasn't super challenging, but it wasn't exactly an easy walk in the park. Cash seemed to be happier in a smaller group. He also loves to be the leader. Once we got out front he was great. He did have his moments though. At one point he decided it was no longer safe for the group to continue on. I talked him out of it. Later on after we got through a gate we stopped to have a bit of a breather, and he just kept dancing in place. He has no patience for just standing still and it really pisses me off. But all in all, he was ok on the ride.
I look super awkward when  I ride western. But at least I look kind of proportionate on him.
Clearly I am impressed with him. 

Saturday night we got dumped on with rain. Absolutely dumped on. We huddled under our friends awning on their trailer until it stopped. There were lakes all around us now. So glad I brought 28 pairs of cowboy boots, but not one pair of muck boots...
Got some rain coming in...
North Dakota Traffic Jam.
So Sunday we decided to skip riding. Everything was way too wet and we didn't want to risk it. The little store that sold shirts with the ranch’s name on it was open and they were serving beer and bloody mary’s. We happened to run into the people that sold us Cash at the little store. She said that he was always a bit stubborn and would test you until he figured out that you were the boss. Obviously something you wouldn't tell someone buying a horse from you… But they said he had been with them last year on their trip to Medora and he was fine once he got out in front of the horses. She said she did have a bit of trouble with him being an idiot until she figured him out, and let him know she was the boss. But he was one of her favorites to ride. We got to chat a bit more about him and we asked a few more questions and she was upfront and honest.
She also said that he always had a little bit of a shorter stride up front. She had had her vet look at him, and they couldn't find anything wrong with him. Similar to when we had him in for a lameness evaluation. He just has a strange short stride. But speaking of lame horses. I was beyond horrified at some of the horses being ridden last weekend. I mean it’s none of my business… but I watched one horse limp back into camp, which if my horse went that lame on the trail… I’d be walking next to him on the way home. We watched another horse that had been cold hosed the night before, being ridden out of the camp the next day… head bobbing, 3 legged lame. And then finally on our way out of the ranch when we were headed home, we saw a large group of horses headed out on the trail. The last horse was visibly lame, and the rider called out to the group “Did you bring any bute?” It’s really not my place to judge, and it isn't any of my business, but when my horses are THAT lame, I don’t ride them. Not on the flat prairies of eastern North Dakota, and absolutely not up in that rough terrain of the badlands. But I don’t know the horses history, I don’t know anything other than what I saw. But when you see that it’s hard not to judge, and my judgyness came from my concern for the horse.

When you have a few hundred horses and their people camping together you are bound to run into things that upset you. Friday night we were sitting around the fire  at around midnight when a guy came out of the darkness and asked if we were using the 3 corrals by our horses. They had just rolled into camp and needed a few more stalls. We didn't need them, so told them to take them. Right before we called it a night, we checked on our horses, tossed them some more hay, and checked their water. I happened to notice that the new horses didn’t have any hay or water. I figured that they maybe drank over at the other campsite, and ate hay in the trailer. Well the next day rolls around, and by noon the horses still didn’t have any hay or water… that’s 12 hours without hay or water. About 3 o’clock their owner brought them some hay… but still no water. Later in the day they were given some of those big rubber feed pans with water in them. You know the kind that a horse can finish water out of in about 3 seconds. On Saturday we had had enough and ratted the people out to one of the owners of the ranch. When the owners of the most "unfortunate" looking ( I say that in the nicest way possible as they were the ugliest horses I've ever seen in my life!) appaloosas came to give their horses more hay, she yelled over to them that they needed to have water in front of them as the day was getting hot. The next day or so they had hay and water in front of them most of the time, but by Sunday afternoon and Monday, no hay  and no water. While again, I don’t know the story of these horses or owners we were kind of thinking that maybe they were new horse owners. They appeared to be well to do, but just maybe didn’t know much about horse keeping. The horses were in wonderful condition… they were ugly as all get out… but they were in good shape. So we weren’t sure why the horses weren’t being fed or watered as often as ours were. 
I wanna live here... better start buying lotto tickets. 
My Happy Place.

So that's that, and I've been home for a few days now, but I am ready to go back. Why can't I live out there? Oh yeah.... that whole employment thing.... and the expensive land prices... oh yeah... that's why...
That cell phone tower was the first thing Theodore Roosevelt built when he lived in North Dakota....
I kid, I kid....

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