New Horse Brings Training Opportunities
Originally published June/July 2011
I was close to the point of bragging about Blazer, the little paint gelding I picked up at a sale last summer. He came with some issues and I don’t think he’d ever been ridden outside of an arena, but after a couple of days at Jonathan Field’s James Creek Ranch and lots of hours pushing cattle around our place he was feeling pretty good.
The first time he saw a cow it nearly scared the spots off him, now he’s keen on sorting, separating and moving little bunches. Recently on a crisp spring day I saddled up Lucky the Wonder Horse for Billie and put my favourite saddle, a custom-made Bob Kaufman, on Blazer and we headed across a big meadow to check some fences. There’s a smooth wire fence running across this meadow and just after I rode through an open gate, little Blazer reared up and as some witnesses might say, “freaked out”. I was looking for a soft spot to land, but couldn’t get in position for a graceful exit so I hung on and managed to keep him bent in a circle. As soon as he stopped I stepped off. While he stood there trembling Billie spotted the cause of the near-wreck. A nest of smooth wire was wrapped around both of his front feet. A few minutes with fencing pliers and he was free and I made a mental note to spend more time working a soft cotton rope around his legs.
The remainder of the ride was uneventful — until we got home. I put him in the arena, secured the reins to the saddle horn and headed for the house to find an old guitar. I’m hoping to be able to sit on him, play guitar and serenade the cows — and possibly a human audience — with cowboy songs and gospel music at cowboy church events. I was about four steps from the house when he decided to lie down and roll on my beloved saddle. In a gentle, soothing voice I hollered at him and he scrambled to his feet, then went to bucking around the arena. Until that moment I didn’t think he even knew how to buck, but I would have had a tough time staying on him if I was 20 years younger.
A question I get a lot in a situation like this is; does that mean there’s a chance he’ll buck when I get back on him? The odds are he won’t — and he didn’t. I loped him on a lunge line for a few circles then got on and he was just fine. That episode did alert me that he may still have some issues. For example, if he happens to fall down with me in the saddle, I might be wise to step off rather than stay on as he gets up.
How he will handle his guitar lessons remains to be seen.
Cattle rancher and horse trainer Hugh McLennan and his wife, Billie, run their cattle in the beautiful range- land outside of Kamloops, B.C. Hugh is the host of the multi-award-winning weekly radio program, Spirit of the West, heard across Canada and the U.S.