Today, the weather couldnt have been better. It was mid-70’s and sunny. Perfect weather for branding. We didnt waste any time, we got down to business quickly and all 64 were tatted(branded) and ear-tagged by midday. We declined a lunch break and all 6 of us mounted back up and drove the herd to thier open range pasture about 2 miles away. I shared my 2 granola bars and rice-crispy treat, but it didnt go far stretched 6 ways! Not one steer bolted or strayed away, they stayed in a nice tight group. Riding back to the chutes we took a short cut on the North side of the creek. This is where B. rode up on a small Western Diamond Back Rattlesnake. It was a small one, not very old but certainly deadly enough to kill any one of us or our horses with 1 bite. The ride up out of the rocky creek bottom was a watchful one, watching for that one’s siblings.
Western Pleasure was the first horse show class I ever took a blue ribbon home in during the 4-H events and open shows. It is such an easy event, especially these days with the ‘pushbutton’ horses with thier noses nearly scraping the ground. This style came into full fad about the time I started learning hunt seat with trainer MB. She was 4 years older than me and already an accomplished horsewoman from my home-town. I thought she was a walking horseman’s bible. MB had a beautiful gray Arab gelding(Ziggy) who was a winner, he had a cheeky personality and everyone who met this horse fell in love with him. The summer before MB was leaving to go to U of M to finish her degree, I was lucky enough to show him in 4 classes. For all of us that hung out at her barn, I spent the most time on his back. I did a lot of schooling off of him learning correct riding positions: the shoulder, hip, and heel in a line. Also to have a straight line from knee to toe, and from elbow to wrist to the horse’s bit. My back should be straight yet relaxed, and the legs and arms are to remain virtually motionless. I was thinking about this today while I was galloping across the praire like some outlaw Louis Lamour wrote about. MB would have been appalled. She was a stickler for proper posture, she also had a sadistic side I soon found out when she was not immediately satisfied with my posting ability. Off came the saddle and I did exercises bareback until my early teenaged legs were numb from fatigue. Shortly after I moved from N.MI I heard she had went off to VA and was judging Arabian Shows, she never did like Quarter Horses, I bet she’s one mean lady judge.
All that reminiscing left me with a yearning for my stored away all-purpose english saddle. I always thought it looked more dressge type but thats not what the name said, it said Wintec All-purpose. One of the best rides I ever had in that saddle was when best friend L. and I rode trails along Lake Superior: Kitchi-gummi, a Chippewa Indian translation, signifies Great-water or Great-lake. Michigan has some tremendous riding trails, Recreation.gov . Just make sure horses are allowed, once we went to Hartwick Pines in the winter off season, it seems horses werent allowed in that State Park, oops!