"Shirley asked this and I got waxing poetic on the answer so decided to make it a post cause it was so blinking long.
Sometimes if I'm hurting or really tired or behind on my housework I get to stay home after lunch at around 4:00. Some times I don't go out till a little later. A five hour day in the saddle is the best for me but most are quite a bit longer. My cowboy often rides a broke horse half a day (when I'm not there) and young horse the rest (when I am there). Everyone gets the Sabbath off unless there's "an ox in the mire."
We usually have our own string of horses and don't ride the other guys or use the other guys equipment just like on the big outfits. (There is quite a difference in stirrup length between the 2 of us). There's a reason they do it that way; it's easier on our relationship and our horses.
Pic is my go-to horse for hard jobs I'm worried about, so sometimes he sees a little more duty than the others I ride. He's a long circle (high energy) horse with some problems but they have gotten less since I have been the only one to ride him. He still takes a lot of patience but I'm willing to try to be patient with him because of the trust I have in him. And he fits me, physically fits, it feels better to sit on his back than in my most comfortable easy chair. My other horses don't feel the same.
Like any working cowboys, we actually put our lives in our horses' hands, so to speak, on a daily basis. It's dangerous with so many variables (cow or bull, horse, dogs, cowgirl, cowboy), the footing (blowouts, sand-hills, badger holes, brush, bog), throw into that mix my 45 foot rope and his 60 foot one and maybe you can begin to get the picture. Trust is really important both ways. The horse has to trust me not to ask him to do anything stupid and I have to trust him to watch his footing and not go down with me and to hold the rope to keep me and, more often, my cowboy safe.
I consider it a real privilege to be able to work this hard even though it's not all romance and pretty days. The days I get hailed on, or have to ride in the rain, or in my snow boots and snowsuit, or fighting bugs and heat, or I'm just plain scared to do what I have to, I just tell myself, "Enjoy it! Remember you won't be able to cowboy forever". I hate to even think of a time when I won't get to do this. Sure there's bad days but the good days are soo good.