A Little Bit Western


Greener Pastures

Jun 28, 2021

I recently posted a few photos of our kids and their horses roping, loping, and grinning. I included a caption about how horses bring another welcome set of eyes and another brain into a situation to help riders tackle whatever job they might be working on. I added that a good horse is more than just a tool. They are perceptive and observant, and teach patience and trust. I trust them to carry our kids, my most precious cargo of all.

Perhaps the only downside of having a good horse for a teammate is that you rely on them to always be there. Whether we go to ropings or brandings, or help neighbours move cattle, or play around in the front yard racing a brother or sister through mom’s carefully planted trees – those are all jobs for you and your horse.

Our kids have formed a strong bond with their horses, I’ve seen them grow together, learn what one another’s strengths and weaknesses are, and how to read their horses’ signals. I’ve observed them have a difference of opinion with their mares, but that gets sorted out quickly as only it can when your behind is in a saddle and there’s work to be done.

When we discovered our son Cameron’s young mare Willow dead in the corral one morning, it was a punch in the guts. His teammate, his teacher, his friend – was unexpectedly gone.

Our kids had just spent a fun few days in the saddle at some neighbourhood brandings, learning things better learned from other encouraging ranchers rather than their own mom and dad. They roped, gathered, scratched ears, combed and patted, performing the familiar rituals with their horses without realizing or noticing what they were doing. After the busy weekend, I was even convinced to let the kids stay home from school on Monday morning, so they could move one of our herds to summer pasture.

I’m sure glad I did.

Cameron took the hard news better than a grown up would. He was comforted knowing Willow didn’t suffer and he was happy that he spent four good years with her. Caring friends and family reached out to let him know they were sorry. His buddy, a fellow cowboy, even painted a good likeness of the grey mare and handed it to him after ball practice one night, which caused me to get a sudden case of “dust in my eyes.”

I will always be grateful to Willow for helping Cameron’s confidence grow. Willow taught him about pressure and release, where and how to get into the right place to turn a herd, how to pull a stubborn bull, treat a sick animal, or just let loose and play.

What’s next? There will be new horses to start and form bonds with, new teammates to learn alongside and the rhythm of ranching will keep going as it will and it should.

Thanks for being a part of our family, Willow. You earned our trust and respect, and you were a good horse and a true friend.

DSC_0239 Cam & Willow DSC_0506 Willow DSC_0668 Ash & Cam & horses DSC_0346 Willow & Cam


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