NOTES FROM WYOMING: THE WRANGLERS AND THE HORSES…






I set my alarm to wake me (too) early this morning so I could catch the horses as they were being driven from their nighttime grazing pastures into the corrals down at the barn.

I thought maybe I could get some really dramatic photos of the stampede of hooves thundering through the gates with their chilled breathe blowing in the crisp air…  You know, the kind you see in Cowboys and Indians Magazine.

As if.

But, that’s what I was thinking last night when I padded around my room, preparing the coffee so I would only have to flip the switch while I sat in bed for a few minutes longer, waiting for it to brew.

I woke up early to photograph the horses

I woke up early to photograph the horses

THE ALARM WENT OFF!

I nearly fell out of bed the alarm was SO LOUD and ill-tuned to some scratchy 80s rock station.

Why was I getting out of bed? I couldn’t remember as I flipped on the coffee.  Oh yeah, I’m going to photograph the thundering herd.

So, I pulled on my sweats. With mug in hand, I stepped outside.

And then stepped right back in.

OMG!  Brrrrrrrr!

Who opened the freezer while I was sleeping?!

No wonder nobody lives in Wyoming… Here we were in the apex of summer, and this morning, I could hang meat off of my front porch swing.

OK, regrouping – I put on all of my clothes and walked outside to meet the early morning hours in horsegods playground.

The sun was rising...

The sun was rising…

thurs morn2

It is like living in a postcard.

thursmorn3

Photos don’t do it justice.

THE THUNDERING HERD

As I made my way to the R Lazy S Ranch barn, once again I was struck by the majesty and awesome presence of the Tetons.  I had to take some photos.  The hard part was that the photos don’t appear the way it really is here.

I feel like I’m living in a postcard.

Anyway, after I tried to capture what master photogs have been trying to photograph for a hundred years, I turned my attention to the Thundering Herd which should have been coming around the bend at just about any moment now.

I could hear the Wranglers whoop whooping and cracking their bullwhips to move the horses into the work corrals.

Whoop!  Whoooop!  Ai Ai!  Yip Yip!  Crack!  CRACK!  Whooopppp, Whooop!

And then they came…

The Thundering Herd of… one.

Then another.  Then a few more.  I counted four.  4 sets of walking hooves sauntered into the corral.

Horses (strolling by as I hung on the fence):   What?!  Yeah, we know where we’re supposed to go.  We do this every single day.  What’s the big rush?  We’ll get there.  Hold your drawers on.

Me:  That’s it?  I wanted THUNDERING HOOVES.

Horses:  Well, you came to the wrong place.  We don’t do thundering hooves.  We’re ranch horses.  We save our energy.

Me:  Where are all the others?

Horses:  They’ll be here.  Eventually.

Me:  But… what about all the whoop whooping and cracking of the bull whip…?

Horses:  We think that makes the Humans feel like cowboys but we just ignore it, pretty much.  Mostly we trot a little to humor them.  Then we walk in and some of us hide.

Me:  Hide?

Horses:  Yeah.  It’s fun to see how long it takes for the two-leggers to find us.  When they do find us, we rush out and hide somewhere else.  So. Much. Fun.!

The thundering hooves of... one.  And he was walking...

The thundering hooves of… one.  One horse, walking.  And he stopped just as I took this photos.

yay2

Ho Hum. Another day at the office.

yay3

A couple more saunter in.

yay5

Not quite the stampede I had pictured in my mind… more of a single file workaday thing…

Yup.

After about 20 minutes, the entire herd had casually walked into the corrals.

So much for that.

These horses are fat, happy and been there/done that.

I walked away smiling to myself…  that was funny.

THE ASSEMBLY LINE

One of the wranglers was talking about the ‘chute’ with me.  I had no idea what she meant.

I had asked her how they could possibly get 35-40 horses ready every morning.

She said, “Oh, the chute makes it so easy to get the horses ready for the guests.”

Well, today, as I was waiting for the herd to crawl in, I noted the chute.  It was basically an aisle with gates on both ends and three tack/med rooms in between.

The chute

The chute

It just so happened that Sky was moving through the shoot right as I was studying the system.

I took photos but basically, the wranglers have a big chart of which horse goes with which guest and what tack that horse will need to wear.

The main Wrangler, Dan, mills through the mostly sleeping horses (yes, they all, I swear, came into the corrals and promptly started sleeping.) and pulled out who was needed, one by one.

Sky was chosen.  He walked through the first gate and it closed.  Sky knew what to do.  He walked to the first open door.

Sky went into the chute

Sky went into the chute

Sky moves to be groomed

Sky moves to be groomed

Saddle pad on

Saddle pad on

chutesky5

Saddle on!

chutesky6

Sky moves out, another moves in

chutesky7

Sky looks at me as he is being bridled, “Hey Human, are you sure you want to ride today?”

chutesky8

Oh alright!

chutesky10

Sky walks himself into the “They’re done!” corral as others are being brought into the chute.

chutesky11

Sky takes his last nap before it is time to mount.

This is where the pit crew went to work.  Out popped three wranglers.  One had a curry comb, another a brush and the third was making sure there were no suspect boo-boos as he slathered on the sunscreen.

Sky then moved forward to the second door where the next pit crew sprung into action.  Saddle pad, saddle and bridle!

Except, Sky wasn’t really into having his bridle put on this morning… so he moved ahead without it.

The last Wrangler in the assembly line worked with Sky and bridled him.  Then, he tucked in all the ropes, straps and reins and set Sky loose in the “They’re done!” corral.

All the tacked horses milled around the “They’re done!” corral, looking like they were all dressed up with no place to go.  It was quite an unusual sight to see fully tacked horses wandering around with no riders…

These horses groomed each other while they waiting to see if they were working this morning.

These horses groomed each other while they waiting to see if they were working this morning.

MOVE ‘EM OUT!

Once all the horses for a particular ride are ready, the Wranglers round up the specific guests and get them onboard.

They have several mounting blocks, which is nice to see…  No newbies hanging on saddle horns.

And then – they’re off!

I have to say, the Wranglers do a terrific job.  They are all happy, careful, entertaining and they visibly like the horses and their charges.

Very nice.

This horse was super friendly...

This horse was super friendly…

TIDBITS

Spending a week here has its advantages because you get to know the Wranglers a bit.  Lots of talk happens on trail rides and although all are careful to keep decorum, I’ve learned some interesting tidbits.

–The Wranglers get here a month before the season opens.  During that time, they have to ride all day – all different horses.  They clear the trails and train/tune/evaluate the horses.

–Most of the Wranglers say that it is tough work but great work.

–The crew eats the same food as the Guests

–The crew loves their employers.

–Most of the Wranglers are college educated.  A few grew up Eventing.  A few grew up on ranches, some play polo, another grew up on this very ranch…

–The Wranglers start work at 6:30am.  They get two days off a week.

–Sick horses are laid up and tended to either there or on WD’s ranch a few miles away.

–They have 2 babies a year.  These babies live in the front pastures and the guests love to watch them grow.

–The donkey, Angel, has been on the ranch for at least 25 years.

–All the equines winter several miles away in Du Bois.  (much lower in altitude)

–Only some of the horses are suited for wrangling.  Independent horses who don’t fret when their friends run off are the best wrangler horses.

–Wrangler Dan has been matching horses with guests for 30 years.  He can probably do it in his sleep.

This is Angel, the donkey.  She has been here for over 25 years.

This is Angel, the donkey. She has been here for over 25 years.

 

HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth… if you like this, please pass it around

newrule2

Your purchase with Riding Warehouse via this portal benefits the Bucket Fund!  Click here.

Your purchase with Riding Warehouse via this portal benefits the Bucket Fund! Click here.

 

 

 

 



Riding Warehouse
Your purchase with Riding Warehouse through this link helps the Bucket Fund!


Supporting The Bucket Fund through Amazon Smile
Please choose HORSE AND MAN, INC when you shop via Amazon Smile through this link.



HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth... if you like this, please pass it around!



4 comments have been posted...

  1. Marg

    We first visited the RLazyS in 1988 with our then 11 and 12 year olds. We have gone back every year since, sometimes twice a season to exoerience summer flowers and Fall colors and the elk doing battle for their “dates”. We plan on our 27 th year this summer and Fall. It’s a traesure…

  2. Natalie

    love this post! i wrangled at the r lazy s five years ago and had the time of my life. it’s a magical place!

  3. David

    My God! you are funny. My wife just read a book where the writer wrote what the dog would say and think and it is just the funniest thing too. I love it when you put a voice to the horses.

Post a comment!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *