Horsemanship / Real Life Ranch Wife

Horsemanship Chooses Us

A man and a small child ride on a horse while other horses stand in the background.

Horses are a lifelong passion that chooses a person, whether or not they were born into the lifestyle.

I remember the first time I realized not everyone in the world wants to ride horses for a living. I was about 16 years old and felt kind of shocked. What? There’s more to life than getting my horse’s feet to be my feet, long trotting several miles a day and craving the sore muscles from sitting in a saddle for hours on end?

Horsemanship is a strange type of lifestyle that chooses a person. It’s more of an inner compulsion rather than a deliberate choice. It’s a maniacal choice, really. It doesn’t pencil out financially, and there are no health benefits, paid vacations or sick days. You supply all your own gear and risk your life and the soundness of your body regularly.

So, why do we continue to throw hay before coffee, tow our trailers to events and competitions on the weekends and pick horse apples with a pitchfork in the dark after work? I have no idea, but here are a few fun quotes to help you smile about our crazy Western equestrian lifestyle.

“What’s the matter with his hat? It looks like he’s been sleeping in it.” — Ty Van Norman, rancher/buckaroo/horse trainer
Some people would consider this a compliment, but those people probably don’t know how to shape their hats. If you’re working on the ranch by yourself, shape your hat however you want. If you’re going to see other people, shape it nicely and look presentable. But since you never know when you might run into someone, just keep it shaped nicely all the time and represent the cowboy lifestyle with pride.

“I need to brush my hair. I feel like a Mustang.” — Katie Cavassin, buckaroo
Who hasn’t felt like this on a windy day? It’s a good thing our classy cowboy hats detract from the tangled mane that lies beneath.

“There was logic involved. Not a lot, but some.” — Tilly Freeman, nee Van Norman
This is the basis of how cowboys (and girls) make all their decisions, except for those where they forego logic altogether. It’s why Tilly and I decided to drive straight through the center of a mud puddle during spring runoff and buried a Toyota pickup up to the axles. We had no cell phone service or shovel, so we pulled branches off stands of sagebrush with our bare hands and scraped mud away from the tires until we cleared enough space to lay down the branches for traction and drive out. It took a while.

“I gotta warn ya, honey. You’re gonna hear a lot of stories about me, and not all of ’em are true.” — Jim Young, my husband
This is the warning my husband used to give me before introducing me to a new group of his friends. He doesn’t say it much anymore because I’m the one writing stories about him these days. Most of ’em are true.

Horses are a lifelong passion that chooses a person, whether or not they were born into the horsemanship lifestyle.

Conversation overheard at J.M. Capriola’s in Elko, Nevada:
Salesclerk to browsing buckaroos: “How about some speed burners?”
Buckaroo No. 1: “What do I need those for? I never catch.”
Buckaroo No. 2: “At least you could see your rope in the fog.”
This was an incident where a buckaroo used 100% logic to make a wise financial decision. It’s a good thing I recorded it for posterity because this might be the only time in history such a thing has occurred.

“You never know until you go.” — Don Brown, renowned cow horse trainer/rawhide braider/cowboy
If you’re wondering whether to take the job, buy the horse or take up a new equestrian sport, listen to Don and just do it. It might hurt your body or pocketbook, but you also might discover a new life passion. Go, and then you’ll know.

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