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Life and Times of a Working Cowgirl

Ramblings from the Ranch

My past few posts have been pretty heavy and politically minded so I think it’s time to get back to the lighter side of life and catch up on all the happenings at the ranch this summer. I’ll start with the horses. LeRoy turned two at the end of July. He is still too small to ride but we saddle him up, put a bridle on him and take him along with us when we ride from the ranch. He acts like such a big boy when he comes in the barn, lines up on the wall with everyone else and gets his saddle. I love using older horses to help train the young ones, it really makes my life easier. Mary Ann and Livi have stood in the saddle but no one has ridden him yet because he’s still a little wobbly holding even someone as light as Mary Ann. Roxie and Misty were both really small at two also so I’m not too worried, he just needs a little more time to grow. The rest of the herd is doing really well this summer. We were able to use both Big and Little Joe in the string this summer which was a huge accomplishment. Big Joe has become our “husband horse”, he’s a great cruiser who loves to take care of his riders. I don’t have to worry for a moment about anyone lucky enough to ride Big Joe. Little Joe is reserved for the wee ones, his odd gait doesn’t seem to bother them and he puffs up with such pride when he gets to take care of a kid. I can’t seem to keep him as fat as Mary Ann manages but other than loosing a few pounds he seems so happy to be back in the herd and back to work. Gunny has settled into being half blind much better than I anticipated and has completely reintegrated with the herd. Roxie seems to be his teacher/antagonizer making sure he uses all his other senses to know where the other horses in the herd are. She seems to go out of her way to get on his blind side and then get irritated when he touches her but her reactions are always tempered as his sense of personal space has certainly improved so I guess it’s just horses PT/OT. The dude string business has been good this summer but we have had some time for other things.

Amelia was home all summer helping with the business, working on the ranch and training Merlin. By August Merlin had passed his public access training and scent training and was officially certified as a Diabetic Alert Dog. He received his Assistance Dogs of the West vest along with his ADI (Assistance Dogs International) credentials. I think Barney and I both felt a little jilted as it became obvious Amelia was now Merlin’s person, after all we found him and started his training.  But hurt feelings aside, neither of us could be any happier at how well the two of them bonded and how successful Merlin’s training turned out. Amelia was able to return to school this year with her own car as a result of how much we trust both her and Merlin. She is truly able to live and independent life as a result of having the constant companionship of a dog. My one wish would be that every family with a T1 child could have the same peace of mind we have.

Liv and I managed to make it to a few Team Sorting competitions this summer. Liv’s first competition was in February for her birthday but she rode Kirby’s horse Dually. She rode well but finished just out of the money. For the competitions this summer she took Roxie, the horse she started as a two year old and has done all the training on. Roxie is a great little cow bred mare with a quiet temperament and a sound mind. They make a great team and have continued to improve. The last competition Roxie was injured and unable to compete so Livi rode my horse Misty. Now Misty and Roxie are 1/2 sisters and I usually say Roxie is the good half and Misty is the bucking half. Misty is a good horse when she is doing what she wants, which most of the time is what I want, just let me ride you all day over all kinds of terrain. She loves to be ridden and she never gets tired or wants to stop. She does not like arena work, I think it’s safe to say she hates arena work. The only reason for her to be in a fenced in arena is if there are cows and if there are cows they must be chased. She is like a border collie in a horse suit and like a border collie, trying to channel her energy so we move cattle but not chase them has taken a lot of work. After many years of patience, persistence and pain I finally have her working cattle quietly and efficiently without the interruption of a bucking fit every time she lets one get by her. So letting anyone else ride her in a competition is just not something I have ever been willing to do. One bad sort could undo literally years of work, but Livi is a good hand, knows the horse and was willing to promise to ride quiet and smart so I let her ride. At the end of the day Livi and Misty had quietly worked their way to the top of the standing. She was every trainers dream come true, working with the horse, building confidence and letting the horse find the easiest way to get the job done. There was nothing flashy about the way they worked, just good solid riding and unlike most of the horses Misty was getting better each ride and showing no signs of fatigue. The very last rider of the day needed four cows to beat her and he only managed three, he and his horse were both exhausted.  They tied for 1st place splitting the winnings. Next week is the final show of the season and I think I’ll ride Roxie and let Livi and Misty see if they can win again.

Finally we have been blessed with some good company this summer. We haven’t had time for much socializing but the time we have had has been well spent with those near and dear to us. Sister Molly made her annual appearance at the ranch and we managed another great ride our favorite Nun. Always beware of a Nun wearing square toe boots : ) . We also managed a trip to the high country with Matt and Rae. Livi auditioned for a stunt job with Matt by showing off her emergency dismount skills after I tied a cow skeleton to her mustang. Everything was going just fine until the wind changed direction and that little mustang caught a whiff of what he was carrying. Matt thinks she has a future in stunt work and I think Rae thinks we have both lost our minds and should be more careful with her. Jen made a trip up for a long day of riding, laughing and saddle fitting. If she loses any more weight she may need to downsize Chief. : ) Barry and Lin made it out from Chicago and spent most of their time on the floor with the dogs or down in the pasture with the horses. Open space and quiet are not something they get a lot of and you could just watch them decompress. Lin is a professional photographer and couldn’t leave without doing a photo shoot of Liv. I wasn’t allowed to watch, it’s a mom thing I guess so I’m dying to see the pics.

As always summers on the ranch are full and busy but already morning is coming just a little later and there is a slight hint of fall in the air. Ranch life keeps close time with the natural cycles so as summer wains it’s nice to remember all warm and happy feelings we’ve had, we will need them to carry us through the winter ahead. Thanks to everyone who has shared some time with us this summer. You have given us plenty of happy memories to get through even the longest of winter.



  1. Love it!!!!

  2. I always love reading your posts about life on your ranch. And, isn’t Jen looking amazing!

  3. Jen is looking amazing and most importantly she is much healthier. I have a Billy Cook saddle just waiting for her when she meets her goal! : )

  4. A lovely, full summer indeed. I remember taking that photo of Leroy! He and Maizie were visiting over the fence. Miss that little dude. I might finally have some time this week–we’ll come over to visit before we head out again on Friday or Saturday. It’s been waaaaaay too long. Embarrassingly long, considering it takes me about two minutes to walk over there. xoxo (And maybe Little Joe would like to pack Maizie in to elk camp?!? She’s getting too big for me to strap on my back!)

  5. Oh wait. Never mind–we don’t have a 3-horse trailer! Not yet, anyway :) LOL! Logistics, logistics.

  6. So, does my great big hat change the warning about nuns in square toe boots? :) It’s too hot here for my boots, but fortunately the freshmen I’m herding are still on their best behavior!