It's the end of a long work day, you've spent the whole afternoon fighting your high strung pony. You've finally swapped out him for your trusty black steed. We've gotten the go ahead to saddle up.
You tighten your cinch, slip on the bridle, tie up your lead rope and step into your stirrup. One shift to the right and a good grip on your reins. The horses can feel the excitement building. They know it's finally time to run.
So here at Paradise we like to do things a little different. Between 180 horses we have about 60% dude horses, 15% semi-dude/string horses, 20% string horses, 5% personal horses. We split the herd in half each week and send one pen out to pasture virtually each night. Well for the first part of the season it's been to home pasture. A few cracks of a bull whip and some "hey boys" and they call come running. But this week, for the first time this season, we sent out to north pasture, a small section of the woods/ field that about half our rides take. Sending them out to north pasture requires that all the wranglers block off sections of the home pasture and ship about 80 horses out through a river and a gate. The first day also required that we remind them where water is, so that means running these horses to the creek.
Well we're all sitting in our saddles waiting for the final instruction. After all of us has found a blocking point, a "Go Ahead" is heard through the radio. One gate opened to 2 wranglers leading the herd at a gallop. There is nothing quite like seeing those horses turn out and take their best shot at getting to the front. Finally the herd passes our barricade and we're told to follow the herd and keep pushing. We hit an open meadow and it's fair game for a sprint to the creek. Horses and riders are flying past in a cloud of dust, mud, rocks, and hooves.
After a sprint through the meadow the herd makes a turn back home and I'm at the worst side of it. We finally get them turned around and all I hear from the foreman is to start running. So Coal and I make a dash for the creek 80 some horses in tow. 9 horses break from the group and take a fence out. A few of us sprint after them and Prince Charming and I are told to turn right. We start tracking the wild ponies and start to see some seriously convincing sign. We follow them up to the top of the mesa and finally catch up to them. After a bit of a struggle we got them all home safe and sound.
We've turned out to North Pasture everyday this week and the process has been nearly the same. But let me tell you, these are the moments where I love my job the most. There is no better adrenaline rush than tearing across a field of purple flowers, with mountains so tall they look like they touch the sky just covering the world in front of you, and four hooves moving as fast as the wind will take them all to catch up to their friends down a ways.
It's been a long and adventurous week full of return guests, trips to Sheridan, Chinese food, hail storms, and parades. Stick around to hear all about my Fourth of July week with return guests who have been here longer than I've been alive.