Category Archives: updates from the ranch

New Years Revolution

There is an old Ace Ried cartoon that goes “if you’re still doin’ at 65 what you could do at 25, you weren’t doing much at 25!” Since it’s past time for your New Year’s revolution, just think about this; how frustrating it is for your mind to keep going when your body keeps checking out on you. Of course the alternate choice is for your mind to check out while your body keeps rockin’ on!  Not that you get to make the choice. It sorta’ gets made for you. 

   Yesterday was Epiphany in the Christian world. My epiphany was when I suddenly realized that I am not a human being! I’m a human DOING. So now I’ll search for ways to do less and get more results. Did you set some ridiculously unattainable goals for yourself? Yeah, like retirement? More horse shows? I guess my own favorite is to “be there”, in a useful and fun way for wife, kids, grandkids, and any being whether two legged or four ( six, eight?) who comes my way. 

   When the irresistible force meets the immovable object, maybe the best thing for you to do is put another ice cube in your bourbon and sit back down in your rocking chair and watch the show!

   Have a great, wonderful, fun year!

“And the bloom is on the sage…”

 Yep, it’s Fall in Texas, time for gatherin’ the herd and strippin’ the weanlings off to ship, and winterize the herd. I can almost smell leather, coffee, and bacon. And I hear in my mind the strains of the old song.

“When it’s roundup time in Texas, and the bloom is on the sage…”

Indeed our Texas purple sage is blooming. It’s actually not sagebrush, but Cenizo, a semi desert plant with ashy green leaves that blooms purple in response to rain. Well, I say it’s Fall, it’s Autumn on the calendar, but yesterday it was so hot we worked horses in tee shirts, and today it’s supposed to go down to the thirties at night! We seem to average out Fall by having winter one day and summer the next. Like our rainfall, which is stated to be thirty five inches a year, but it might come all in one month! 

So planning our roundup in advance is dicey. Our crew comes from all over the county, and even from out of state. We guess at the weather. The prognosticator says it will be sunny, and cool. 

I’d sure like to have a job like that where you can be wrong half the time and still get paid! With us it somewhere between the Texas Ranger’s motto,”know you’re right and keep on coming”, and rescheduling as we allow sanity to prevail. But we can’t procrastinate too long lest the brown stomach worm, Ostertagia, get ahead of us and we have to nurse skinny Corrientes through the winter with extra feed. So we’ve got a deadline to meet, and we’ll have to “cowboy up” and deal with adversity and “gitter done”. Of course we could take the hitch hiker’s point of view,”I love deadlines, I love the whooshing sound as they pass!”


   We just enjoyed a long overdue visit with an old friend, Dr. Cliff Honnas DVM. This time it wasn’t on account of a sick horse. We were there for a pre-purchase exam of one of our Andalusian horses. It was a delight to reconnect with him and to see his smile as he greeted us at his spacious facility near Bryan, Texas.

   I was anxious, of course,as I anticipated the outcome. But his response reassured me, and made me proud of this ancient breed of horse. “Glenn just brings this ‘ol pony in out of the pasture without washing him off, or giving him a cookie…” he grinned. Then as he showed us the x-rays he said, “ He’s perfect”!

   Smiling, we drove away with one less horse in the trailer, feeling very happy that a knowledgeable horsewoman had chosen to become the new owner of one of our steeds. It was last year’s winner of the basico championship in Doma Vaquera, TCR Leonidas, ( Banbury Ella X Trovador ). Then I realized, of course he passed his exam! He’s a Lusitano! At least he’s half Lusitano, and the other half Spanish (PRE).

   You see, those two countries have spent the last five hundred years carefully breeding horses under the watchful educated eyes and hands of experienced horsemen, ranchers, and cavalrymen. Moreover, in Portugal, the breeding stallion was only allowed to produce offspring after being tested in the bullring. The Rejoneo, or mounted bullfight has kept the bar high for soundness, athleticism, and trainability in the Lusitano. Once again, survival of the fittest comes through as our Leonidas sailed through a pre- purchase exam with flying colors! He will now change his career from ranch using cow horse to dressage competitor in the hands (and saddle) of his new owner, Heather Kilby. 

Our thanks to Heather, as well as her coach Pam Grace. In addition, I thank my own coach, Manuel Trigo, without whose patient teaching I would not have understood the structure of a training program for true collection in a dressage horse. Muchisimas gracias don Manuel! 

Finally, I thank Donna Meyer, my dressage teacher for putting up with me weekly as she has strived to help Leonidas, as well as several others (“all those gray horses”) put up with this old cowboy trying to learn the art of classical equitation!

Waitin’ for a Norther

 I’m peeling sweat soaked Levi’s off at the end of day,”Honey why are your socks always turned inside-out?” Looking out at sun scorched pastures, horses and cattle crowded under the scant shade of post oaks and mesquites, it’s hard to believe it’s October. 

Places up north are already gettin’ snow, yet down here in Gulf Coast Texas both temperature and humidity are in the nineties. Last week we found a cool day with the high only ninety one, so we penned a herd, and vaccinated, tagged and weaned forty nine calves. In the afternoon we shaded-up just like the cattle. When the dogs barked, the next thing we saw was a rising plume of caliche dust as the UPS truck came driving up the lane. 

   The creek has long since dried up and we’re starting to worry that we might have to haul water to the cows. The one good thing is that, due to low cattle prices, we’re a bit understocked, so the grass in the Hilliard bottom is dry and strong feed.

 Oh, we’re cryin’ for a Norther, for the rain and relief from the heat. But we know that some day it will come roaring down from the hills, and we’ll see the wedges of sandhill cranes and geese, and we’ll stand out in the blessed cold rain. Meanwhile,let’s get a cup of coffee and go out and sit on the porch and watch the sun come up.