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Nose to the Ground March 06 Issue
March 01, 2006

The snow is finally gone! There's likely more to come but the last couple of days felt like spring. The lengthening days help in getting in the mood to get out of doors and get some things done. The melting snow means mud but you can't have everything and it usually just takes a bit for the ground to thaw out and things to dry out.

Once that happens I can start building a round pen. My main fear is rocks. The Rocky Mountains are well named. Since I want to use post and rail I need to have post holes at equal distances apart. Given about 20 holes I figure that for at least 4 or 5 holes I'm going to hit a rock. Also have to make sure there are no large rocks lurking just under the surface of the pen's interior. This may be a 2 or 3 day job or it may take all summer in which case I'll report progress here. I'm sure you'll be interested.

Gift Shop

I followed my own advice (which I don't always do) and gave the gift of a tote bag from our Gift Shop stuffed with goodies. It was a success. You might take a peek if you haven't already. It does make a nice little gift.


If it seems a little strange that from time to time I promote supporting your local businesses it's simply that it's something I believe in and generally shop online only when I can't find what I want locally or I find a price so low it's hard to turn down. You always have to balance price and quality though, something difficult to do on the Internet.

The best way to buy online is to buy from reputable companies who have an "online" division and/or sell though associates like us. These companies offer good quality, tested and reliable products - often at a low price. They also demand the best quality as their reputation is everything to them. So, we can suggest or recommend a visit via our web site to our associates like Back in the Saddle, The Saddle Shop, Sheplers, Powells, Show Stable Artisans, etc., fully confident that you'll be given good quality at a fair price.

Note that purchasing though our site doesn't increase the cost to you. While we get a commission the cost to you is no different than it would be if you went directly to the merchants web site.

From Our Cool Ideas Page - Horse Vacations

Expect to see more in the area of Travel and Horseback Vacations. There is a problem here in that there are so many vacation offers in so many areas or locations that it's sometimes difficult to get a feeling for the quality or the product or service or gauge the fairness of the price. So I'll be checking things out as best I can and as a minimum try to help you get some good ideas. That's primarily what we're all about anyhow. But, stay tuned.

This makes a good lead in to this month's article. It's about vacations on horseback, specifically one we took and a character we maet.

Article: Larry

His name could have been Ed, Fred or Charlie but Larry seemed a perfect fit. Of the half-dozen mules in the pack train Larry was the largest and strongest. A couple of the mules were a bit ornery but Larry liked being around people - one of the gang so to speak.

We met Larry while on one of the finest vacations in our life - a 10 day trip on horseback through the Bob Marshall Wilderness in northwest Montana (just to the south of Glacier National Park). There were 10 of us - riders, guides, wranglers, and the camp cook. We entered "The Bob" from the eastern side, on the Rocky Mountain Front near Choteau, Montana (of dinosaur fame). The horses carried the people and the mules carried the gear, food, tents and cook stove.

The highlight of the trip was a visit to the Chinese Wall, a huge escarpment deep in the interior of the wilderness area. The "Wall" averages 1,000 feet in height and extends 22 miles along the Continental Divide.

It was an education watching the guides pack the panniers every time we set out on another leg of our journey. There was a maximum as to how much a mule could reasonably be expected to carry, and it varied from animal to animal plus the weight had to be distributed evenly. Packing the gear was an art form.

There were a few times around camp where there wasn't too much to do. Ample reading material is a must in this case. One of the guides had a copy of Jurassic Park which kept him entertained throughout the trip. The rest of us made do with re-reading a couple of old magazines and newspapers someone had brought along.

Giving a gift of a horse vacation? Add a good book.

The alpha horse (sometimes more than one) had to be kept corralled at night. If it decided to head for home some or all of the herd would follow. This happened one night. We woke up with two-thirds of the horses missing. Two of the wranglers found them a few miles away where the horses had found a nice place to eat and decided to do some grazing instead of continuing on back to the ranch.

Back to Larry. When the other mules and horses were placed in a rope corral, Larry was often allowed to roam around the campsite. If you stretched out on the ground he would eventually mosey on over and do his grazing nearby. He also liked to hang around the kitchen area (often an arrangement of one or two tarps) when we were eating.

The guides told about the time Larry walked through the kitchen, got caught up in a rope, and walked off with the roof(tarp) trailing behind, knocking the stovepipe over in the process. Just to show this wasn't a tall tale, Larry did a repeat performance during our trip and ended up in the corral with the rest of the mules and horses as a result. All was soon forgiven though.

You just couldn't stay mad at Larry.


Pretty Shadow

"Pretty shadow" is a term sometimes reserved for those who like to admire themselves while riding along by looking at their shadows on the ground. Do you do this? I have - sure beats looking in the mirror.


With that I'll leave you until next month. See you in April.


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