Take Care Of Your Horse
- July 27, 2016
- Jolyn Young
When a cowboy catches a horse for the day, he catches a horse for ALL of the day. Depending on the work to be done, he and his equine partner might start their day at 4:30 AM and not get done until well into the afternoon. Sometimes, the cowboy crew will return to the ranch to turn out their morning horses and catch fresh, rested horses for the afternoon’s work. Working through the heat and the dust to gather, brand, or otherwise work cattle is hard work no matter how the day is broken up, though. A conscientious cowboy will periodically give his horse a break.
In the Great Basin, buckaroos will “air out” their horses’ backs on a hot day. Uncinching and lifting up the back of the saddle lets fresh, cool air circulate beneath the hot, sweaty pads and helps prevent saddle sores. Here, Spanish Ranch cowboy Jim Young airs out his horse’s back after a long morning of branding calves near the Winters camp. He unbuckled his back cinch, loosened his front cinch, and left his breast collar fully buckled, but some people might choose to completely unbuckle everything if their horse was a little spooky or they wanted to be extra safe.
After holding the back of his saddle up for a couple minutes, a cowboy can cinch up and be ready to do another job. Good times to air out your horse’s back include when the last cow is pushed through the gate, when the crew stops for lunch (if there is a lunch break), after climbing a steep hill, or when switching ropers at a branding. Any time your horse is sweaty and breathing hard and there is a natural break in the work routine is a good opportunity to loosen your cinches and give your horse a breather.
If you’re stopping for a longer break, like say lunch and a nap while waiting for the driver to come pick you up in the horse trailer, pulling your saddle completely off your horse is a good idea. This lets him totally relax and cool off, since he has been doing manual work all morning, too. Here, Connor left his roan horse hobbled in the sagebrush beside his saddle while he ate a cheeseburger and homemade french fries at Chimney Rock Creek on the Spanish Ranch.
I think Roanie enjoyed the break. Who doesn’t appreciate a chance to rest once in a while?
When working hard with your horse, remember that he (or she) is working hard, too. Let them rest when you do, and your horse and working partnership will benefit from it.
About Jolyn Young
Jolyn Young lives near Montello, NV with her cowboy husband and 3 small kids. For more, visit www.jolynyoung.com....