Hey everyone, Des here!
Hard to believe it’s been 2 weeks since Buck left the ranch. In one sense it seems like it was just yesterday…but in another, it seems like we have been going, going, going, so much, that there’s no possible way that we could have fit in as much “stuff” into those mere 2 weeks that we have! Seems like enough to fill 2 months! Hence…a missing Highline issue from a week ago. My sincerest apologies!
So, what have we been filling up our time with? Well let’s see…. We have had to move cattle from McKillop pasture onto Davis Mountain. That has involved many days and miles of riding to gather…lots of times we are more or less hunting for the cattle in thick brush and in steep terrain. As of right now we are still 3 head out! Now it’s time to check for tracks outside of the fence line—yikes! Let’s just hope they are playing an exceptional game of hide-and-seek.
There is a new trail that the boys cut out from our McKillop pasture into Davis, via a smaller pasture called Elk Creek. That took some time and muscle and chainsaw. And then of course, it took quite a bit of time to get the Davis Mountain fence checked and ready (that’s 40 square miles)! Water tanks had to be set up, mineral moved out. It’s no small task, especially after a hard winter with lots of potential trees and downfall on the fences.
Tommy, our master farrier came out for 9 days…a little longer than the norm so that he could spend some extra time training some of our newer crew members—Caleb and Sami. Shoeing a big herd like ours is no joke but those two really stepped up to the plate and came out the other side with loads more knowledge and feel.
We’ve had FIVE new interns start with us in the first week of August. They are a pretty fantastic crew too! Margot, Tegan, Chelsey, Kitana and Genna have been getting earfuls of horsemanship from all sides between their work in the arena and their work outside with the cattle. They’ve even helped me in some of my earlier rides on one of the colts I’ve just started. I’m really enjoying their work ethic and discipline. This is a group that is going to get pretty far in short order.
Riding, riding, riding…I have been riding my tail off trying to get a few more ponies into the guest string who are pretty close. In our herd we have our A string who are our Guest String horses. Then we have our B string…those horses have all been ridden and can be ridden by a wrangler or an intern but need more consistent rides by myself to be qualified for a guest. We also have a C string that consists of colts or horses who just need a lot more help—those are just Des string horses until they make it on up to the next list.
So, I’ve been focusing in on about 5 B-String horses who just need a little more refinement and consistency to be able to “fill in” in any given scenario. A guest horse in our string has a pretty massive responsibility—they have to fill in for their riders as well as for themselves in a way. They have to maintain balance and composure despite sometimes having it taken away…they do ultimately learn how to sort this all out. That requires a deep foundation that they can draw back on. Which is why even when a horse is in the guest string—Shayne or I will ride them for 30 min or so before any guest gets on in a given day just to bring that foundation right back up to the surface. It’s what keeps them all operating at such a high level. Anyway, enough about me…there’s more going on beyond that!
We had a massive windstorm a few nights ago and had some of our very old Aspen trees topple down by the cabins into the lodge meadow. About a half dozen! Willy has been taking care of those. We also got our final piece of the “NEW” land that Shayne purchased last year fenced this past week! The last piece of it was actually finished up yesterday and we are live now. It’s called the 420…. Clever name, huh? Hint…it’s 420 acres!
We drug Janice back home (willingly!) to train some new and old staff members on learning the ins and outs of the office. Kim is off to new adventures taking over a hunting lodge in Idaho. It was an opportunity she couldn’t pass up and we are more than happy for her. We hope to be seeing her around here in the off season. For now, when you contact the office you may be seeing a few new names…all very qualified once Janice gets done with their training sessions.
Last but not least, we said safe travels to little Kevin, who has been with us since he was 14 and just turned 21 this week! He’s off to some new adventures and is going to continue some schooling. With his tenacity and work ethic, he’s certainly going to go places. We are looking forward to following the journey.
That’s all for now! We gotta keep pushing to get this place in tip top shape for our Women’s 10-day starting on Saturday! It’s going to be a hoot! Even Dori is going to join in on the fun for this one. Lucky us!