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Monday, August 24, 2009

HOM: Horses

After Gordon died, I started hunting with my friend Jim Pierson, who attended my church and worked at the same plywood plant, though on a different shift and in a different part of the mill.. Jim decided that the ultimate hunting accessory was a horse so he bought a pair of them, a lovely little Arab named Randa and a big brown horse named Gurly, along with the related tack and a pack outfit. He planned on our using them to hunt back in the Bob Marshall wilderness. I know a little more about horses now than I did then, at that time all I knew was that one end bit, one end kicked, and the middle did a lot of bouncing. Jim took on a four-way teaching job: me, both horses and himself. I suspect that I was the poorest student. At the time he lived on Harmony Road in Evergreen and had a little pasture for the horses there. That pasture was the classroom. The horses were pretty good riding horses but they disliked being used as pack animals. Some of the better pasture rodeos centered around an aggravated caballo and the pack saddle and plastic panniers Jim strapped on it. The outcome, of course, depended on how well he did the strapping. If he did it right and the saddle stayed in place, the horse would eventually give up and accept the strange burden. If he did it wrong and the pack outfit got thrown off the show was over pretty quickly, but if slipped under the horse things got pretty exciting. I think Gurly was the one that demonstrated that when a horse went up in the air and came down on its side, the plastic panniers bent and cushioned the fall without breaking or hurting the horse. We reached a point where we'd saddle up and cut through the back ways, cross the highway, ride down to the Flathead river by the big bridge, then along the bank to the area around the Old Steel Bridge. We explored most of the unfenced trails down there, swam the horses through some ponds and had a great time. It was a course in basic trail riding. My saddle horn got a good workout. Pride was not a factor for me and when I had to make the choice between falling off proudly or making a cowardly grab at the horn, cowardice won every time. We all survived, though, and learned. One lesson I really learned was that a horse was definitely stronger and probably smarter than I, but I was stubborner, a lesson that stood me in good stead when I got my own horses. Didn't help me much with women though. TBC (Me) (Blacktail Books)