You know you've won, in life, when people pay you to do what you would pay them to let you do

Monday, May 31, 2010

For Sale Pages Added

I added three pages for horses and dogs we have for sale. Check them out in the side bar.

Flannel shirt, wool sweater, insulated jacket with my oilcloth slicker over top and I was still cold riding today. Checked one herd of around 500 cow/calf pairs in a very wet pasture. We are going to have to move them Wednesday or all the bulls they will be turning out on Tuesday will have foot rot for sure. I hate that field and it has made me cry, more than once, because I was so scared and frustrated. I'm terrified of my horse punching through and sinking up to his chest like what happened to my cowboy. Plus it is horrible to try to move cows out of that field around all the water and wet ground.

Then we moved 114 cow/calf  pairs about 7 miles. It was a long cold, spitting rain, chilling wind day. In the words of Baxter Black, "It was a day that stunt men and daredevils would have stayed home," but not cowboys, obviously. Home never looked so good.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sunday Friends

Some old friends called up and invited themselves out for a visit. Funny how with certain folks it's like no time has passed since you last spoke to them 10 years ago. Things change but they never do or maybe they do but the love you have for one another never dims with the passing of time. I like those kind of friends.

I heard an interesting quote at church today. "Friends are Angels with wings who reach down and lift you up when your wings can't remember how". I hope I got that right. I like those kind of friends too.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Meet Roxy

 Meet Roxy, (daughter of Blue)

Meet Roxy sulking. (because she's not working, aka having fun)

Meet Roxy eating cat poo

                   Meet Roxy having fun (aka working).

This was Roxy's 3rd time moving cattle. My cowboy says she's starting to get her side commands (come by, and away to me) already. Here, it's on the job training (which takes a vast amount of patience from my cowboy, our horses, and the cattle but there's lot of room and time). Cattle are so big they can be intimidating for a young dog but here they have lots of room to get away from mad mama's who are mostly just bluffing anyway. Later they will learn to work in close in corral situations.

We have all (except for beautiful Bachgen) short haired Collies. For us it's so much more practical with all the burrs and spear grass. When we had longer haired dogs we would have to shave the hair on their lower legs up to half way up their sides during the worst of the spear grass. Plus the dirt, mud, and manure just drops off them and they almost always look clean and track in much less when they come in the house.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Work is a Good Thing

I love rainy days. For me it means: sleeping in, getting to do girl stuff (aka: laundry& housework), and time to think or, at my age, reminisce. Today I was thinking about something someone said to me at the branding.

The someone was the mother to the boss and also the mother of of the other 9 children in that family. Her husband just recently passed on. He was an Alzheimer sufferer that this noble lady took care of till the end. There's a real love story, eh? I admire her immensely. The black horse the boss is roping on is hers.

I was fussing with my horse and she came up to me and said: "You look better in your working clothes than you do in your Sunday ones. I can see why your husband fell in love with you." I don't think she'll ever realize how much that meant to me. To me that was the best compliment I ever had.

I like to work. I've often told folks that they can quote me on my gravestone. It should say 'Work is a good thing.' That's the one message I would like to leave to my posterity and anyone else, even those who might only have known I existed because of an old gravestone in an abandoned graveyard years into the future.

To me I figure someone really likes me (although I do like presents too) when they come and work with me. That's why I love our other two daughters so much, both of them have rode with me and helped with our cow work. When you work with someone you really get to see what kind of metal they are made of. They are both, like my own 3 daughters, pure gold.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Branding Today

Some brandings are full of cowboys and some are full of family. This was a family type one, lots of kids, lots of chaos, but a fun day

About to start

Lucy, now called Jesse, is out of my good dog Blue. She now belongs to the folks where we branded today. She's so sad to be tied up and not still working but her part this morning was done when we got there. Gotta love the work ethic of a Collie. She remembered us.

The boss going for another iron. 
He's one of the best men I know (one of 10 siblings), giving instructions to the crew (family)

yours truly( I'm horrible at this, note the one hind leg. I usually don't get to rope but the other ropers didn't show up so in a pinch I'll do I guess).

  the two most handsome guys there. . .   

almost ? This one is taken girls.

The boss roping his calves.

 This was the happiest Grumpy was all day.


I was always told to count my blessings. One of the blessings of being a cowboy is to have cowboys for friends.

I am thankfull for so many things but today especially it is for good friends, folks who will come and give you a hand with your work when you're in a pinch (like when you get dumped and sored up and it's hard to climb up on your horse). My cowboy has a friend like that. Come to think of it, it should be him counting his blessings.

Before we got rained out we moved the 450 cow/calf pairs that needed to be in the right field when the bulls are turned out on Saturday. The cowboy that came to help is a not just a good hand, we call that type of a man a top hand. Moves through cattle like a hot knife cutting through butter, so smooth.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

You Don't Ride the Head.

Lots of people like a pretty face, even on a horse but I always say you don't ride their head. As long as what's inside it is a kind and trusting what does it matter what it looks like.

We have a half brother and he has the same long face but can he run. It's so effortless for him. I'm guessing by the way Kisses moves that she will be the same.

She's 15.3 and a 3 year old. I haven't measured her older brother but he's problably at least 16.2 now. Both are out of some famous stallion that barrel racers would like.

I like this mare. Can you tell?


How can one person get sooooo tired. Hmm. Let's see 7 hours and 40 minutes in the saddle, 41 cow calf  pairs moved 5 miles, then 450 more cow calf pairs movedout of a 4 section field, with just me and Blue and my cowboy (nursing sore ribs from getting bucked off last week which I'm here to tell you made him not a lot of help and I didn't even want him in my picture with that stupid hat) and Roxy the collie who's working for him now. All I can say is: "Thank Heaven for Collies!" Oh and did I mention the calves we treated?

I'm not letting Blue get overheated again. He's a working fool (and my best friend) just like my cowboy.

Power and Pashaw

Last night, I got home from the branding, happy cause I got to rope, tired and dirty but with some fun pictures. I had just about finished putting them on this Blog when the power went out, cablam! I was too tired and disgusted so I crawled out of my clothes and into bed and didn't phone the power company till morning.

Now I can't even get into that account on my computer with all my pictures on it. And I'm even more tired and grumpy today, after another long day in the saddle (lunch was at 5:00 PM) plus I stupidly forgot my camera and could have taken lots of good pictures today. The porcupine nesting in a clump of buffalo berry bushes would have been awsome, the three cow arguement would have been interesting. I missed the coyote culpret and how Pashaw won out hearts today. Dang!

We took one of our 6 month old collie pups, Pashaw, her first time out with us. She was nervous about getting too close to all those crabby mother cows but she followed us. She stopped at one point and I couldn't figure out why until I saw her run from the coyote that was stalking her. I ran my horse back and chased it off, the dirty rotter. She stuck a little closer to us after that.

We found some calves with pneumonia that needed treating and as usual my cowboys hat blew off on the chase and we lost the pup at about the same time. We called and called her on our way back to look for the hat. (I was really hoping my cowboy would remember where it blew off and he did.) When we found the hat we found Pashaw lying down right beside it, guarding it from the cows and hoping we would come back I guess.

My cowboy was so impressed he told me: "She's a keeper." I wasn't surprised, knowing how much he values his hat. I knew she was a good pup all along.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Sleepless Nights

Usually I sleep like a log. Not tonight: between my cowboy's snoring and rotten collies barking at cows wandering by. And there's a branding today to go to, my cowboy has been invited to rope.

For those of you in the US or UK this is the first weekend of summer here known as the May long weekend or Victoria Day so Monday, today, is a holiday though not usually for us.

Last year I got to rope calves too because the other fellow they asked got in a wreck and we had taken two horses. Pretty fun. I don't often get to. I'll try and post some pictures later today when we get back.

Hi ho, hi ho, it's back to bed I go. "Nos da" to my cousins, Noella, Karen and Tom, in the UK and "Goodnight" to everyone else.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Saga of Life on the Lease

Congrats to Granny Crystal on the birth of two new foals on one night. Just wish I had guessed better on the date, colour, and gender. Who knew?

Here is an episode in the continuing saga of Life on the Lease.

What do they say about curiousity?
Pic just says: "Back off, buddy!"  
"Sheesh! Some folks can't take a hint." 

Saturday, May 22, 2010

cowboy lawnmower

Got a new lawnmower. Everything around here runs on diesel so getting gas for a gas-powered mower is a big production. The cowboy solution is motorless. I was quite proud of being so environmentaly conscious but oh my it does take longer. No problem when lawnmowing is woman's work, I guess.

My cowboy and Bachgen the dog put it together. Josephine checked it out and I pushed it.

Friday, May 21, 2010


Rustly Wallace from Nanton, Willow Creek Saddles made the saddle in the header . I think he's retired now. He made really good saddles. This one is almost 10 years old and was ridden in every day for the first 4 years and long hours, then not so much in the winters since but long hours in the summer. It's seen snow, rain, hail (I was there. I'm still mad about that), bugs, heat, wrecks, you name it and it still looks almost new.

I had an old Willow Creek saddle years ago but it weighed 60 lbs and my horse then was 16.3 so I sold it. I was always sorry I did. This one of my husband's is lighter than mine.

 My roughout wade is made by Bob Kaufman. I cuss it most days. Funny how small things can annoy you after 5 hours in the saddle. I always say the first 5 hours are good, after that I'm looking to quit and go home (for lunch). It has the latigo keepers behind the fenders instead up by your knee. The problem is that when the fenders move back they pull the latigos out and they flop around.

It's good that there is latigos on both sides because if a horse goes down and you need to pull the saddle for any reason it makes it easier to get it off . It also makes for a finer adjustment of the cinch, except that mine on this saddle are different lengths and I hate that, plus the long side is always short a hole. (I never think of punching a new one till I'm 10 miles from home and go to tighten up to rope something).

I never use the breast collar attachment things as mine goes up through the gullet. I love the way it sits on the horse. Better than even those chocker kind my husband uses. (My breast collar is one of my favorite things in my whole world).

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Nursery

City folks never believe me when I tell them cows babysit. Here's the picture proof.

Once, when we were starting to move a heard of cow/calf pairs my cowboy told me: "Go over that hill and stir those cows up." I got over the hill and decided I wasn't quite sure what he meant. I saw a couple of old cows laying with bunch of calves. I decided he must have meant to get them up and move them off, which I tried to do. I got them up but I couldn't get them to leave. Nearby mothers of the calves heard the commotion and came running. As each one picked up their calf I was able to drive them off towards the gate. The two old cows I knew had their calves with them but I couldn't get them to go. They insisted on staying till every one of those other calves' mothers had come and got them. When the last one came they happily headed off behind her.

The lady from the purebred operation I sometimes work for told me a funny story. A young fellow from the city came down with her son to put together this green house she bought. It was just about dark when they got to her place and this young fellow hurried and changed into his farm duds and came back upstairs with a flashlight wanting to go right out to the cows. They explained it would be better if he waiting till morning. He was so insistent about going out in the dark when the cows were standing there sleeping because he told them he had been really looking forward to Cow Tipping. They of course, burst his bubble but I personally would have just followed him out there and watched the goings-on. I think that would have been pretty fun to watch. Don't you?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Good Colts Good Kids

Skippy (Hayes Brothers, close to us here, raise these line bred Skipper W horses). Day before yesterday he bucked so hard tied to the trailer, I made the cowboy put him up and pick another colt to ride ( it didn't help much as that colt bucked at least a dozen times that day). Today he was an angel and a useful one at that. Pretty good for a 4 year old: rope, get down, and tie off, like he had being doing it all his life.

And one of our other daughters. We have three of our own and 2 we think of as ours. This one is headed to Australia for a few years to be with her new husband. We're going to miss her a lot. What a cheerful kid, and starting to make a pretty good hand besides. I have to really admire her hutzpa. Her yellow mare that she rides is a real cowboy's horse: big, strong, capable and liable to buck you off. But our girl loves her and we love them both.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Day of Foofurah

This winter, during calving season, I worked for a purebred breeder. He's been in the business for 36 years. He and his wife were soo good to me (they pay me and feed me and even pay me for when they are feeding me) and his cows are just plain sweet. I had one shake her head at me once but it was only because I was a little slow at filling her water dish.

But what a lot of work and foofurah purebreds are. I'm more used to the ranch and 400 black cows with not an eartag between them and another 400 hereford crosses the same that at least look a little different. You paired them out not by looking at tags but by looking to see who was the mother and who was her calf.

I went over to help these folks today, vaccinate and tag their lease cows. I swear we counted, matched up, and recounted those cows today a dozen times. It was a 12 1/2 hour day. All I want to do now is have a nice hot bath and curl up behind my cowboy in my nice soft bed. Goodnight Ladies.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Facing Hard Facts

All of a sudden life is hectic. 1800 pairs now, a few babies to treat, moving herds into the fields we've picked to breed in this year, company, hired help to feed, colts to ride, pups to start working. It's like an explosion on the lease. I miss the ranch and how one work winds down and with another season life shifts seamlessly into a new work.

Aussie, the barrel racer's 3 year old, had his first ride out today. I don't know what his problem was but he must have bucked a dozen times. The patience of a cowboy (my cowboy) amazes me. He got by him and still got his work done. Of course, it did hurt that I was there to back him up riding his good horse: calm, experienced, capable, handsome Wilbur. I roped one calf (I am the worst calf roper in the world but if they are sick enough and just stand there, well I have that down pat) then my cowboy switched me horses and roped a few more. Hot days and cold nights and the stress of folks trailing their cattle out to the lease, it's all just a recipe for pneumonia.

Yesterday we were moving a herd across the pavement into their breeding field and I almost killed my good dog. He's 9 and got fat over the winter. It was hot and the help was inexperienced and we had to work extra hard. He got overheated before I realized it. I should have been watching him closer. I tend to over focus on the work. Everyone moved on with the herd but I stayed with Blue and kept wetting him down and shading him

Luckily I had taken to 500 ml pop bottles full of water for the help. I used every drop of both bottles to cool him down. He couldn't walk, and he was too heavy for me too carry very far but I got him to a well site that had a tiny bit of shade and I shaded the rest of him with my new hat. I tried loading him on my horse who is way to figgity to stand still and got him up there twice but couldn't get the horse to stand so I could get on too and Blue didn't have the balance he needed. My cowboy finaly came back for me and my dog and the story ended well.

Except I have to face the fact that my best dog is too old to keep up, too old to be my right hand. It was a sad day and hard realization. I wish, of all the animals in the world, dogs lived longer.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Glad to be a Girl

I like being a cowboy's wife (helpmeet- did you know 'meet' means necessary so I guess from that God must have meant our help is necessary), of course, but more than that: I like being girl. That's from someone who grew up wanting to be a boy.

And I guess in a way I was the son my dad wished for (only better, he he). I was such a tomboy: climbing trees, catching polywogs (one grew into a frog almost, only had just a short tail left), fighting (stupidly with kids bigger than me), playing marbles ( I was good too, won all the neighbor boy's till he became the boy with no marbles). I figured anything a boy could do I could do better till I got to cub scout age and they wouldn't let me go (back then). Boy was I ripped off. I boycotted dresses and wore plaid shirts and denim jeans, had long hair but always in 2 braids (which suited my freckled nose), packed a slingshot to ping any of those stupid (lucky boys), and wished everyday I was one (and that had nothing to do with penis envy).

I grew up and fell in love with a cowboy who lets me do all the boy things (except the standing up to you- know-what) I want. He even bought me the Red Rider BB gun I always wanted (to shoot coyotes that come that close to get my dog and believe me the dirty beggars do).

I'm his hired man and he expects a lot. Some times I have to remind him "Hey, I'm a 56 year old lady, not a 34 year old man."

But he buys me pretty things too: Crystal candle holders, pink flowery dishes, lace curtains, a lucious (fake) fur coat (that I didn't even need), cute socks, much needed makeup; things the girl in me really likes. He's kissed me, horseback, under the watchful eye of a big yellow harvest moon, protected me from hurtful people, tenderly taken charge when I was too scared to face something. He lies and tells me I'm pretty, and apologizes even when it's me that's wrong.  He's made me glad I'm a girl. (Now if he could just make me happy to cook.)

Thursday, May 13, 2010


Reading one of my favorite blogs today, I was reminded of a cowboy friend who related his snake escapade to us.

Like lots of cowboys, he and his wife lived in an old trailer on the ranch. He knew there were snakes in it when he saw one while watching TV one evening. It popped it's head out the heat register in the floor and looked both directions before disapearing back into the vent. His wife happened to be in the kitchen and he thought it best not to mention it, since she was deathly afraid of even the smallest most harmless snake.

A little while later she came through the living room and announced she was going to have her shower. When he heard the scream, he knew she knew. Apparently, the little Gartner snake had found it's way from the heat vent into the floor drain of the very shower stall his wife was in and had poked it's head up through the grate as she bent down to pick up the soap she had dropped. And that reminds me of my ants in the pants story since it both involved naked, running, screaming cowboy's wives but I'll save that for a different day.

We used to live in quite a rattlesnake infested area. Winters are cold and long here and I guess they all need to den up. My cowboy said he was riding out one day and could smell something really bad and just as he came over a little rise he saw the writhing mass in a small hollow; he said at least a hundred of them, different sizes and kinds, rattlers and bull snakes, all jammed up together. Totally grossed him out, an Indianna Jones moment.

My cowboy's grandma hated snakes and would chop them into tiny pieces with a shovel until one came right up the handle at her. I remember riding my horse right over a tiny little rattler, all coiled up and swinging around as all those legs passed over him. And one day in October a big rattler that looked like a stiff board bobbing up and down. Once in an old abandoned barn my cowboy saw a Tom Cat kill a big rattler by timing the strike and jumping over it till he caught it by the back of the head. Obviously, something he had done before. Oh, the snake stories I could tell; pitching snakes along with hay, jamming syringe covers in horses nostrils before they swelled shut from a hit, bulls with football-sized knees. . .  and so on and so on.

But now, here in Alberta, rattle snakes are endangered and there are signs by the road that say we should be watching out so we don't run over them. I personally don't mind them too much except when the surprise me. They are so much the color of dirt, it's a good thing they buzz.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Circle of Life and a New Deck

A deck on the truck, Yaaaaah! I could just dance for joy. Since the bulls caved in both sides of the box on the work truck we've been trying to save for a deck. It's more practical for us anyway but dang those cowboy wages.

I'm not complaining, really. It's great pay when you count in all the benefits: getting to hang out with your good horse, mother nature, and the man you love best in the whole world; getting to work with Collie's, having real cowboys for friends; and all that culture-symphonies of meadowlarks, sky paintings and cloud sculptures done by the real Master. What a good life!

But it just wasn't paying for a deck. I'll never doubt again that when God loves you there's always a way. Our way was this wonderful son-in-law (I haven't always thought so. I, of course, wanted a cowboy son-in-law.) who volunteered to help my cowboy make one.

All a miracle to me that the two of them could do it and have it look so great. My cowboy's a smart guy but not so much a welder. He's good at building stuff with wood (and I admire how he can fix a fence line, so straight and strong). He and my dad built a garage together for my folks. Funny how things come around.

Our youngest daughter, a really sweet girl, is beside herself with pride to have her husband and her dad working out in their garage together with her two little boys playing under their feet. You know, I actually like getting old and seeing the circle of life come around.

Friday, May 7, 2010


This is Bachgen, son of Blue, my good dog. I love dogs. I can hardly stand to watch a movie with a dog in it. My heart is so tender, and I can't take it when something happens to the dog (and it always does in the movies).

I often tell my cowboy that I think God told the woman, "You gotta go down and help this guy. I promised him help to do what's right. He needs an angel and I think you could do the job. You go down and do your best to be good and do good."

Then he told the horse. "You gotta go down and help this guy. I promised him I'd give him the strength to do what I told him to do.  You know I gave him that commandment about, "by the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread all the days of thy life." He's only got two legs and his not strong enough or fast enough to do his work so you go down and do your best to help him get his work done."

And he told the dog, "You gotta go down and help this guy. Lots of times he'll have crabby days or do stupid things and maybe even be mean. He's liable to make folks so mad he'll feel like nobody loves him. And you know I promised I'd always love him. You go down and do your best to show him how I love him. Love him like I do, unconditionally."

So the cowboy got a woman, a horse, and a dog as gifts from a Father-in-Heaven who knows how much help he would need. We all love and help our cowboys because that's what God asked us to do.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

My Old Balance Ride Saddle

Is anyone else out there sick of the snow? I hate to still be complaining about it on the 5th of May but if the weather report hadn't said a couple of more days of it I might have quit my grumbling for the year. Living on the dry prairie I am thankful to the Maker for the moisture but . . . well, maybe I should just stick with the being grateful part.

Hooch is home. We sent him out to get started. Hooch is my buckskin 3 year old gelding. We found a guy that does a good job, the way we like. He had a half brother to this colt (out of Saddle Up Te) and some other horses from Longmuir's where we bought Hooch. He likes their horses too, good minded, easy to start, strong, sound, ranch-sensible using horses.

My cowboy will ride him a couple of years before I get him. We changed it up from when we were younger and I always rode the young ones. If he got hurt we didn't eat so I use to volunteer to put the first couple of years on them. Now we still won't eat, but food doesn't have the same appeal as it did, ha, ha. Mostly it was because there were three little mouths to feed besides my own in those days.

Back then I had one of those Balance Ride Saddles, not the ones made by Fallis (that you can still buy by the way, see but almost the same. Never in all the bucking colts did I ever come out of it. I felt invincible.

Once I was riding a colt that spooked at something and I hit the ground but I was still in the saddle, the horse had slipped on the wet grass and fallen with me. I flipped my leg over just before he stood up and my other foot hung up but it came out before he ran off. It was one of those near death experiences.

Another time I was just getting on and the colt started to buck before I got my leg over, so I don't think that counts as a bucked-out-of-that-saddle time.

In a Balance Ride, the stirrups are hung more forward like a bronc saddle and it just sits you back down in it when the horse pops you up. Plus the cinching is different, spreading the wraps out, making it more close contact and you can really feel your horse better because of it. You can feel him tense up before he blows or jumps away. And sooo comfortable, more like sitting in a chair because the stirrups were father forward. A little harder to post a trot though. Too bad I sold it years ago.

You know, I think I just talked myself into heading to Fallis' website. I probably can't afford it but I can always dream.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Riding Home

Once in a while someone comes along that makes a mighty impression on you. For me it was Merl, my cowboy's cowboy friend. Merl was around 45, we were in our early thirties.  I wear batwing chaps because that's what he wore. I wish I was more like him.

Merl's son had a nice collie dog that wandered off ocasionaly and ended up at our place. Once, when we took him back, we were standing near the fence talking to Merl and his son and his son's wife and her dad.

His son also had sheep. Merl said he didn't like sheep, because sheep were born to die: couldn't run, couldn't fight, and couldn't figure. Anyway, these sheep saw Merle and came up to the fence too. 

We were all standing there: the sheep, my cowboy and I, the dog, Merl, his son, son's wife and her dad. I looked around and got the distinct impression that everyone there knew Merl loved them (even those helpless sheep, in spite of what he said bout them ). That's the way Merl was. He cared. He reminded me a lot of Someone else who made/makes us feel loved, Someone who cares about us.

Merl had a heart attack around every 5 years from the time he was 25, 5 in all. I often wondered if, in those experiences somehow, he had seen that Someone.

One night during calving season I heard my cowboy come in about 10:00 PM but he didn't come up to bed. He left again and didn't come home till the wee hours of the morning. He told me about it all later. 

He said he had a really strong feeling that he needed to go over to Merl's dad's place. He didn't know why exactly but when he got there Merl's dad come to the door and asked, "How did you get here so fast?"

Merle had his last heart attack and died out in the corral while his dad was in the house calling the vet. His folks were waiting for the ambulance to come. My cowboy had beat it there.

He was there to help Merl's folks that night when they really needed help. I realized that their tie of friendship must have been an awfully strong thread.

The next day, I was in town, and got talking to this lady from our community. I told her Merle had passed and she just stood there on the street by the bank and cried. It surprised me. I didn't even think she knew him that well but obviously she felt the same way I did that day we took the dog back. 

That's the way Merl was. Because of him I think I know what being around that Someone would have been like; how those who walked with Him felt loved like that.

If you go to the small country graveyard where Merl is buried and you find his headstone it reads; "Riding Home."

Our Barrel Racer

How did it get to be the 2nd of May? I guess 'cause I spent the weekend with my daughter at her young gelding's first barrel futurity, in Cardston Alberta under old Chief Mountain. She wants to be a barrel racer when she grows up. Always did.

We used to team rope when she was little. She tried heeling but eventually became a better header and pasture roper, apparently. I took a water-belly steer to town one day to get heiferized [I still can believe they actually do that, YUCK, some day I'll have to tell you all that story too] and she stayed to help her dad rope yearlings out on the pasture. When I came back he proudly told me that she was a better roper than I am. I might have been insulted if it hadn't made me so proud too.

My cowboy used to get the kids up to practice before school and when they got off the bus they practiced till it got so dark I would have to go out there and threaten to get them to come in.

One winter evening we went to roping practice at the indoor arena in the closest town. This barrel racing daughter was 12, roping on her little sister's pin-eared buckskin gelding, Casey. I was up in the bleachers watching. She was sitting on the buckskin by her dad waiting their turn to rope.

Then I see her getting off and her little sister climb up on Casey, her own horse. I thought the barrel racer was probably headed to the washroom and the little one was just sitting on the horse till she got back.

Somebody I knew walked past and we exchanged a few words and when I looked up my cowboy and this little 10 year old were both riding into the boxes, her on the heeling side and him heading. (a note: with gum boots that were so much too big for her they fell off if she ran which was complicated by the fact that she couldn't reach the stirrups anyway since they were set up for her older, longer-legged sister)

My cowboy nodded and the buckskin broke so hard on the first jump that the little one only just managed to stay with him. They came back, purposely not looking at me, and before I could get down there to ask him where in the world his brain had gone, the barrel racer ran up and asked: "Did you say she could ride the horse?"

"Of course not," I told her.

"Well, she said you said she could," she pouted.

Again I looked up as they rode in the box. I waved frantically but both of the culprets were carefully ignoring me. My cowboy nodded and out they came. This time the little girl held on the horn and stayed with her horse that first jump.

My husband caught the steer and slowed it right down. This little girl, with too big gum boots and no stirrups, was right there on his heels. She swung, threw, picked up one hind leg, dallied, her horse stopped, my husband faced up, and the everybody in the building, who saw it, gave a great whoop and a holler.

The barrel racer who had never caught despite her best effort crossed her arms on her chest and said to me: "That's it, I'm never roping again!"  But, of course, she did.