Country Horse Plays Hide and Seek
- December 20, 2023
- Jan Swan Wood
It was about 1997 when this little deal occurred. I was part of a group of women who gathered together every year to camp, ride and visit. My sisters and sister-in-law were part of the group too. I had taken our good old ranch gelding, Chigger, to ride. He was a rock solid ranch horse but hadn’t been off the ranch much in his life. I had also taken Sailor, another really good ranch horse, for my sister-in-law to ride.
I had sympathy for my horses as I wasn’t much on crowds or trail riding, having made a living with my horses always, so with that in mind, I’d parked on the outside of the whole camping area so my country horses could maybe relax and not be scared bug-eyed the whole time they were there. I’d put up a pretty good sized portable pen with white barrier tape, filled a water tank with water from home, and fed them heavily. The two had spent a lot of time together, so made good pen mates, or so I thought. They couldn’t see much of the rest of the camp and it was pretty quiet where they were.
I think it was Day #2 when apparently the two had a falling out and Sailor had evicted Chigger from the pen. Upon my return to my outfit after a meeting, I noticed that Chigger was missing. I did a quick walk around and couldn’t find him. Enlisting some of my friends, we got serious about looking for him. For all I knew, he’d gotten fed up and headed for home about 40 miles away.
Before too long, word spread and women were walking all over, up on the hills, down in the draws, and between all the trailers, but no Chigger. Most horses would have been robbing someone’s hay or grain, but Chigger wasn’t doing that. We were out on a ranch in a big, rough pasture with timbered ridges and brushy draws, so he could sure enough have disappeared and been hard to find.
I was getting ready to saddle Sailor and go looking for him in a bigger area when along comes my friend Laurie leading Chigger back to my trailer with her halter. She was laughing at him. She had walked past her outfit several times while looking for him, but then heard what sounded like a foot stomping a fly in her trailer. When she looked in, there was Chigger, standing up in the front, butt in the corner, hoping someone would haul him out of all the noise and people. Laurie had left her trailer open to dry out, hence the door was tied back and allowed him to load with ease. It was a big stock trailer with dried cow manure on the walls, so he felt right at home. The poor guy sure had high hopes.
He wasn’t any too thrilled to be put back in with Sailor, but I tied Sailor to the trailer so he couldn’t bite Chigger any more and Chigger stayed put. He was sure glad, as was Sailor, to get loaded up in my trailer and go home at the end of the weekend. Probably no gladder than me, though. We were just a little bit too country for that crowd.
About Jan Swan Wood
Jan was raised on a ranch in far western South Dakota. She grew up horseback working all descriptions of cattle, plus sheep and horses. After leaving home she pursued a post-graduate study of cowboying and dayworking in Nebraska, New Mexico, Montana, Wyoming and South Dakota....