February 6, 2021, Volume 16, Issue 5

Howdy everyone, it’s Jupiter here, one of the ranch horses. Some of you may know me, I’m the stunning bay roan that stands out among the rest of the herd. I’ve been enjoying my time off this last year, but now I’m back on the payroll so I thought I’d give you guys a ranch update from my point of view.

Shuga, in the evening light.

So this last year I’ve been spending my days in the herd, getting fat on the lush grass and taking in the wide open spaces. Recently, I was moved to join the other herd of horses behind the new arena. I was very excited to join the cool kids and get put back to work. My first day back, I was led into the arena and tied in one of the spacious stalls. I took in the new smells of pine shavings, grain and leather saddles. I greeted all my buddies who were tied beside me and watched some of my other friends getting ridden. I took a few naps as well, enjoying the warmth of the heater on my back. I was soon taken out of my stall and one of the wranglers, Maddie, began brushing me. I closed my eyes and focused on the soothing feeling of every brush stroke on my coat. Maddie also put this weird gel in my mane and tail that smelled like a pasture full of flowers. I noticed the gel increased my handsomeness by adding shine and flow to my mane and tail. I felt extra special as I walked into the arena with my new hair do.

Maddie started with groundwork with me. As I circled this goofy human, I started remembering all the

Indy supervising 🙂

dance moves as I tried to figure this gal out. At first, I felt out of balance as I tried to understand what this girl was asking of me. With every movement, I found ways to convey to the girl what I needed. Maddie and I soon started having a conversation with our movements. Like any first conversation, it had it’s awkward moments but also big breakthroughs. I licked my lips and took a big breath telling Maddie I was understanding. She paused and gave me soft strokes on my forehead. The next step was the saddle. Maddie swung her pad and saddle on my back and it felt new and familiar all at once. I stood quietly as she adjusted her gear to my very round belly. We went through our dance steps again and I listened to the rhythm of the leather squeaking on my back. Once the saddle was snug like a big hug around my body, I lowered my elegant head for the bridle. I felt like a stud sporting shining metal conchos on my headstall. Maddie swung her leg over the saddle and I felt her settle into place and the work began.

Emily and King, the gentle giant

I could feel Maddie was hesitant as she touched my body with her legs or slid her hand down a rein. She was seeing what I had to offer and I was doing the same with her. Just like the the groundwork, we gradually found ways to communicate with one another. Not long after Maddie found ways to shift my balance and become a better dance partner, we had a serious job to do. All of a sudden I noticed there was a steer in the arena! I had no idea where this bugger came from but Maddog and I had to get him. I realized there was something different about this steer, another horse had to drag him around in order for him to move. And his body was made of metal but still wrapped in cowhide. I was wary of this steer, he could not be trusted. As Maddie and I got closer, I held back slightly letting her know this steer could be a trickster. I felt Maddie’s legs against my body and I pursued the cow until my lips were on his back. I got strokes of encouragement and I stayed hooked onto that steer. Soon Maddie’s rope started to swing by my side. When I saw her loop wrap around the steer, I ran up closer and kept that little guy in check until we got him stopped. Even though I was incredibly focused on my job, I was having so much fun. I forgot how satisfying it is to feel useful. At the end of the day, I glanced in one of the mirrors and saw my reflection. I let out a proud whinny at the stunning creature that was myself. Maddie laughed as she stepped off and brought my attention back to her as she took off my headstall. After another grooming, I inhaled a tasty bucket of grain and took a snooze under the heaters.

I’m looking forward to more rides in the arena and getting my muscles built back up so I can put the other geldings to shame with my good looks. I’m ready for the long summer days and hopefully I can chase some cattle in the mountains. The rest of the crew here (both horses and humans) have been doing good as well. Saddles have been getting cleaned for the upcoming season and projects are wrapping up. Our little patch of Montana is receiving a few inches of snow this weekend. The herd and I are very happy because that means we get extra food. 🙂

And so the adventure continues………..