Yesterday, as I was sitting in the alleyway of the barn watching Twist munch on his oats, listening to music, drinking a beer, and taking in the first signs of spring, I thought about my grandpa. It always hits me being in the barn, and especially this time of year, just how much I miss him after all these years. I don’t know if it’s the old, dust covered harness that hangs in the rafters, the pile of tack that needs oiled and cleaned, the smell of horses, leather, wet earth and oats, or maybe it’s the combination of all of it. And as my eyes drifted to the mountains and the landscapes of home, I wondered what he’d think about all this change since his passing; the change in the last place he called home, the mountains he left his childhood home of southeastern Montana for, the family that’s left here to carry on his legacy and name and dreams, yet working to forge their own and honor tradition. Would he liked what he saw? Would he be proud? I wished I could talk to him as the forty year old version of me and not the nineteen just once. To have five minutes with him to seek a little wisdom and insight about it all. About this life and what’s in store. And as I looked back at my horse finishing up the last bit of his grain, it hit me that if he was here, he’d say “just go ride, Heather Anne”.

And he’s right. It doesn’t matter what’s changed. It doesn’t matter what the future holds. It’s about living in the here and now and taking change in stride. And the best stride to take it in is that of an honest horse.

You see, Grandpa was right about a lot of things, but the one thing he was most right about is the therapy that comes from riding; the peace it brings.

So as spring slowly forges it’s way in the form of mud, rain, and little flowing rivers in the barnyard, I’ll wait patiently for those mountains to thaw and reveal their change they undoubtedly hold. And I will ride down the muddy roads close to home until then, and think of him when I do.

Miss you, Popi❤️

{Horse Tradin’}

It’s springtime… no wait. Not in my neck of the woods anyway. It’s January 78th, 2018, but that’s another story for another day.  Anywho… What I meant to say is that it’s horse trading season again for the dude ranch, and given the going price of horses these days, we should’ve spent less money on diesel for snow plowing, starved the kids, forgone Christmas, hit the millionaire jackpot and hocked granny’s fine china. All I can figure (and hope for) after reading through some of these for sale ads on Facebook and Craigslist is that these people must be in dire need of furthering their educatin’. Because if you’re going to ask $10,000 for a horse, but you can’t bother to check the punctuation and spelling in your ad, then friend, I’m probably not real interested.  There is a difference between knowing your nuts and knowing you’re nuts.

Uncle Jack always says that when it comes to horse trading that “you don’t have a good starting price until you’ve insulted the owner. Not the horse, the owner.”  I chewed on that thought, and after reading through some recent sale ads, I figure he’s on to something.

Not that I’m an expert on your horse you’re itching to part with, but I’m willing to go out on a limb and bet that there are some other cowboys and cowgirls out there thinking the same thing.  Here’s an example of an ad I came across while scrolling:

“For-year-old sorrel gelding. Green broke great foundation, great on trails no Buck no rear. Needs to be finished. Very willing ties all day trailer front shoes. If interested please call. $3500.”

I assume the horse is a four year old? Green broke? We all have different ideas on that subject. You can read the rest for yourselves… Sorta leaves you scratching your watch and winding your butt, doesn’t it?

Example 2:

“Selling my 2 yrs. old paint mare,She’s registerable, she’s halter broke, leads, trailers, she’s a little clumsy with her feet , but she just needs some training with her feet.
She’s about 141/2 hands. She’s had a saddle put on her , and she was ridden , so you could call her green broke. $1500”

I don’t know about you, but there ain’t nothing better than a clumsy footed horse. Next…

“Gentle Quarter Horse Tricolored Paint Gelding, 9 years old, 15 hands tall, 1150 lbs. Has a very nice disposition with   good conformation. He is a gentle horse. He steps right out, no spurs needed. He is bold on the trails, can be ridden out by himself and can be taken anywhere. Horse has a very nice disposition. No buck, bite or kick. Also, he has been ridden downtown. I am almost 70 years of age and I enjoy riding “Horse”. If you know how to ride a horse, you will enjoy riding “Horse”. He works very well in the round pen, his ground work is excellent and he is easy to work with. Awesome mountain trail horse. He walks out nicely on the trail. Goes through rivers and streams, over pack bridges and crosses over downfall easily. “Horse” has been on several back country pack trips in the wilderness. You can lead the pack string off of him or you can use him as a pack horse. Also, he has been roped off of and has moved cattle from summer to winter pasture and back. “Horse” has a friendly disposition and is willing to please. He learns new skills quickly. He stands quietly at the mounting block to get on and off. “Horse” loads/unloads into the trailer easily, and he stands quietly for the farrier and was just recently shoed and recently had a vet check and his teeth floated. Must go to a good home. I want him to go to an amazing home. I will be picky. He is for sale, not on sale. $9,500 cash”

Dang, he really has done it all.  Did I mention he bucks a little high and to the right? And he really needs that $9,500 to pay off a hospital bill?

I must be out of the loop these days, because I keep seeing pictures and videos accompanying these ads that show the person standing on their horse, or bouncing big beach balls, or wearing t-rex costumes while riding. I mean, there really ain’t nothing handier than being able to wear a real nice t-rex costume while riding down the wilderness trails enjoying nature.  It’s also extremely useful keeping a pissed off mama cow at bay while roping her wylie little calf for doctoring.

Bottom line, you can think you are showcasing your horse’s mad skillz, but really, you’re just showing me your horse is the smart one. So kudos… Heck, maybe he really is worth that $10,000 price tag.  After all, he’s survived you.

Give me a horse with heart; a horse of no particular color or background, but full of try and grit and good; one that will give me an honest day’s work, keep me humble, and teach me.  I’ll pass on that fancy bred, chubby halter horse for $10,000 this time. Thanks just the same.

Happy Trails & I hope you’re a little more successful in your horse trading ventures than we’ve been…

{Love Song}

She knew she loved him when home went from being a place to being a person. ~E. Leventhal

The sunset glowed through the windshield while we maneuvered down the long, bumpy road in your old truck. But it wasn’t the warmth from the sun I felt. It was happiness. It was your love. I looked at you and just smiled as you held my hand. I didn’t want the moment to end. I want to take the long way around every night, if it means more moments like this with you. Moments when it feels like every song that plays on the radio is timely and beautiful, and every song you hear feels like it was meant for the one holding your hand… like all the love songs become our love song.

Next To You, Next To Me driving down the road in that old pick up truck, there just ain’t no place I’d rather be. So, Take Me the Long Way Home, because those moments When You Say Nothing At All speak right right to my heart. The smile on your face lets me know that you need me. You really did Have Me From Hello. And if I had only One Friend left, I’d want it to be you. Because you’re Unforgettable, that’s what you are.

And Now That I Found You, I don’t want to be without you. You see the real me, no in between. These moments are made for Making Memories of Us, and I will always be here for you. I Love the Way You Love Me, and the way your eyes dance when you laugh. It makes me want More of You, again and again. I fall more in love with you than I’ve ever been.

I want the world to know, The Story of My Life, and that Only You Can Love Me This Way. I Need More of You changing my rain into sun. I know we have The Start of Something Good because your love makes me feel like a Millionaire.

You’re a like sweet music made when the bow hits the fiddle, like Right on the Money. You’re my Soft Place to Fall, and I want to be yours, too. Because if I have my way, I’m going to love you ‘Til All the Rivers Run Dry. I promise that Forever is As Far As I’ll Go.

I’m Makin’ Plans that include you. I want you to Name all of the Dogs, and watch every sunrise and sunset with you underneath these Western Skies. We really are Two in Million, and it’s the Greatest Love Story I’ve ever read, like one for the history books.

So, Could I Have This Dance for the rest of my life? Because I really Could Not Ask for More than to love you Forever and Ever, Amen.

I Will Always Love You…