Riding Line

In the nineteenth century, before “Bob wire” certain cowboys had the lonely job of “riding line.” They lived solitary lives for months on end at the periphery of a ranch for the sole purpose of daily riding out to push cattle back onto the home range as they grazed and strayed off into neighboring territory. Now, over a hundred years later, we still “ride line.” We are now checking perimeter fences to make sure that the good neighbors that are made by good fences, stay that way, and aren’t having unwanted visits by our heifers, or vice a versa. Since a lot of our country is cut up by ravines which are deep and sometimes have flowing water, and sometimes not, our water gaps are a source of worry for keeping cattle in. Also trees get blown over by the wind, or drop limbs which take down fences. Many of these fences are really only accessible horseback, as even a four wheeler can’t really always get up close and personal with some of the places our fences go. At the same time as we check fences, which is about weekly, we also ride through the cattle. We look for health problems, feed problems and any new baby calves. Riding through the herd “prowling” also keeps our cattle tame for being managed when it comes time to pen them. It’s also good for young horses, just walking in uneven terrain and passing through cow herds. They have to learn to deal with all kinds of things that they won’t see in the arena. They learn to be a calm reliable mount, just doing ranch work and putting down the miles of “riding line.”

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