Today I got a taste of wrangling and thankfully within a 200 acre fenced field. After walking the entire length of the field, I finally found the horses taking shelter in the trees. I brought a halter thinking I would test my skills and go for the capture of one horse to bareback em all back in to the barn. As I approached they all ran in the opposite direction of the gate and alas I was unsuccessful in my plan. I jogged to keep up but they ducked into the trees and the little buggers lost me.
I thought to myself imagine doing this in the pitch dark at four in the morning up a mountain with 2000 acres for the horses to roam! I caught up with them again at the end of the air strip. They broke off into two groups and started to run away again. Huffing and puffing I chased the larger group hoping they would head to the gate as I could not get in front of them to cut them off. They took off back to the other end of the pasture again.
By this time I was exhausted but determined to catch my horse. I gently approached the group and managed to slip my halter around one of the horses. I hopped on his back and there I was this my wrangle horse. What to do now? I got behind the herd and they all started to run towards the gate. I followed behind in a really fast trot. I held on to the mane and squeezed with my inner thighs for dear life. There was no way I was going to fall off. I tried to smooth out the ride by giving him a kick to move into a lope and he gave me three huge bucks in return. I held on.
We started to move faster and faster. There was still a ways to go but my strength was diminishing. Finally we got close to the gate and I hopped off while the other horses made their way to the coral. I saddled the wrangle pony and made my way back to bring home the remaining stragglers.
My wrangling dream finally came true and for the first time ever it was an exhilarating albeit frustrating experience. Afterwards, I helped the cranky female guide who never really wanted my help. I got her oats, her lunch, her water and then stood around with my hands in my pockets. She told me that she was going to eat more sugar so that she could sweeten up. Wow, she knows she is a hard ass and I suppose she is working through her own issues just like the rest of us. She has a lot of pressure as a guide and has become hard and tough over the years in this man's world.
I opened the gate for her as she left and wished her well on her journey. She wished me 'good luck' as she set out on her ride with her string. I am going to do my best to keep a positive outlook not only here but at home as well. As the cook said, ' we are all civilized human beings and should be able to communicate with one another'. My tendency is to bottle it up and to let it burn and fester inside me. I know I have to get better at effectively verbalizing my feelings ... again both here and at home. I'm going to keep trying to deliver my messages in the right way so everyday can be full of sunshine even when it is pissing rain outside.
1. Keep the herd together. Get behind the last horse and chase them all together. The whole is more than the sum of its parts.
2. Don't take shit! Be assertive with the wrangle horse. Slow down, turn him in a few circles if he is not listening and make hime do what you want to do. Use effective body language and commands.
3. You gotta keep up with the herd to manage the flow. And think three steps ahead as they will try to trick you! Positioning is key. Stay 45 degrees in relation to the herd and push them in the direction you want them to turn. Think like a horse!
4. When you're in the dark make sure your headlamp works
5. Always stick to the trails!