22.09.2013 - 22.09.2013
Lance the wrangler
We woke up at 4am, a little jet lagged. Now time was 9am back home in Sweden… But we stayed in our beds until breakfast that was served at 7.30 am. It was pancakes today (American of course!), bacon, eggs, yoghurt and toast. Doerte (one of the ranch owners) and the wrangler Lance came by to visit us now in the morning to give out horses for everyone. First they asked what kind of horse we wished for and then about our riding skills. They thought Bailey was the right kind of horse for me, a light bay Paint Horse with blue eyes. Before leaving the guest house they handed out water bottles that they recommended us to fill with water and bring with us during the days. The ranch had its own water supply from a well nearby so we could actually drink the tap water. Otherwise the water tastes more or less like chlorine in the US, but here at the ranch it tasted just like back home.
We got together out in the yard to try out what kind of saddle we would fit in. In western every cowboy/rider has their own personal saddle. It doesn’t matter what kind of horse you ride since you adjust your saddle to the horse back with different paddings. That’s a big difference from the English school riding where each horse has its own personal saddle. Then Lance told us about Parelli Natural Horsemanship and how we would practice that with the horses. We walked to the pasture and grabbed our horses for the day. Important is to simply show the horse you don’t want any harm and you’re in charge. For those of you that doesn’t know what Parelli Natural Horsemanship is – google it! You can apply the method on any type of horse… Icelandic horses as half-bred horses or quarters.
Then we groomed the horses. None of the horses had horseshoes on due to the cattle (and the horses themselves) so they wouldn’t get hurt by accidently step on a lost one and get the nails in their hooves. Bailey was as cool as a cucumber. Maybe too cool? I didn’t want a lazy horse. After help saddling (western saddles do weigh a lot) and bridling the horses we first rode around in a small field. Lance watched us to see how skilled we really were. He explained that a lot of riders came to the ranch often (not always) bragging about being better riders than they really were. This meant that they had gotten horses more advanced than they could handle. So that’s why they always had a short ride in this field the first day to see which rider told the truth or not about their riding skills. Out on this field they had blocks, barrels, a small fence and a hill you could use to vary your riding. Bailey felt pretty safe to ride. Unfortunately he barely listened to any the neck reining and probably had been ridden by inexperienced riders that had torn his mouth apart time after time. So I got pretty disappointed of their choice of horse for me. The weather showed off from its best side. Sunshine and about +25 Centigrade and a cloud-free sky as far as you could see. So a thin sweater and SPF50 were necessary. After about an hour we unbridled the horses, feed them and all the riders went inside for lunch. Lunch was served at 1pm and about an hour later we gathered outside again by the horses.
Now we were riding out on the properties. Out here you’re not riding tail to tail, you can pretty much ride as you like. As long as you could see Lance and hear his voice you could take off on your own. I liked that! You could go in between the trees, ride up the hills as long as you kept the wrangler Lance in sight. We also got to ride in steep hills. Bailey wasn’t too happy about that and walked very slowly downhill which was very annoying since everybody passed me and I got behind.
Lances own dog Sip always came along during the rides. And today he marked for something in a bush (Sip was trained to mark for porcupines). Lance dismounted his horse and said that if it was a porcupine he would shoot it. The rest of us rode further away and waited. We heard two shots then Lance came back and said that it actually was a porcupine. The three German men got excited and dismounted their horses and dragged the porcupine out of the bush and as I understood their almost understandable English they had never seen one before. Lance explained the porcupines were a huge problem for the landowners in the area since they destroy the land. I bet you can compare them to the wild boar we have here in Sweden. And here in Wyoming you are allowed to wear a concealed weapon as long as you don’t have a criminal record. Lance ensured us that he even had a license to wear the weapon.
When arriving back at the ranch we took care of the horses and let them out in the pasture again. After a well needed shower it was time for dinner at 7pm. Today it was ham and potatoes. It was nice and we had Cheese cake for dessert! After dinner we discussed horses for tomorrow. I told them I wasn’t happy with Bailey since he was too lazy for me. So tomorrow I was going to ride Chocolate, a dark bay mare with a more sensitive mouth and knew how to neck rein and with more energy than Bailey. Later we sat down at the balcony and watched this amazing thunderstorm far away in the distance. The lightning spread across and lit the whole sky up and it felt pretty safe to watch the whole thing from a distance. The thunderstorm did pass rather quickly though and the starlit sky and the moon took over in the dark night. I fell asleep pretty un-rocked that night.