Good morning. I need your help.
I don’t have time to talk about this beautiful weather we’ve been having, or how summer is slowly and in a lovely way turning into fall. Or how I have been procrastinating my chokecherry syrup project for riding every evening.
No. I can’t talk about that.
This shit is urgent.
My horse needs a name.
Here she is, I think you’ve seen her before.
The paint mare.
Cause I’ve claimed her. Yup. Put my name all over her after pops brought her back to the ranch for the second time in my life. Maybe I should take some time to explain this so you can get a general idea about what I’m dealing with here.
See pops is a horse trainer, horse whisperer, horse fanatic, horse lover, damn horse crazy man. He admits it.
And he admits there hasn’t been a horse in the universe that he has met that he didn’t love. Even the one’s that bucked with him repeatedly for no apparent reason, the ones that will run around the round pen for an hour before they’ll give in and be caught, the ones whose feet are always tender, the ones that walk too slow, the ones that only want to run, the ones that knocked the wind out of his lovely middle daughter time and time again as she found herself launched out of the saddle and whimpering on the hard, clay ground, unable to feel her entire right side.
Nope. Dad liked that horse too. Just not the behavior…of horse or rider I must add. Because in the Horse Whisperer’s eye it is rarely solely the horse’s fault. I suppose Ceasar the dog whisperer has the same theory–it’s misunderstanding. Miscommunication that causes the issues.
And its pops mission in life to talk to the horses, you know, let them know that there is at least one man in the world who will try to understand where the beasts are coming from.
I think he’s been this way since birth.
Which brings me to the reason this ranch has been home to hundreds of horses in his lifetime. They find their way here when someone is having trouble with them. It could be a young colt that needs a start, an older animal with a stubborn streak, a temper, fear or anything in between. Horse owners and friends and friends of friends will somehow find their way to pops who rarely ever says no to giving it a try.
And after a few turns around the corral he always falls in love and either offers to buy the horse or to ride it until the owner would like it back.
That’s the first scenario.
The second scenario is how my-mare-who-remains-nameless found her way to our house the first time–because pops went a looking.
Yup, he found himself at a horse sale watching the hand me down animals come through the ring. Horses that others may have given up on, or didn’t have time or room for. He can’t help himself, even when he swears he’s just going to look, he brings his trailer along just in case. And so, about three years ago when I was working in the big town with the horse sale, pops shows up at my office with the trailer. I walked out across the parking lot, stood up on the tire of the rig in my fancy shoes and slacks and peered in to meet two paint mares that would have likely gone to the land of no return.
How lucky they were that pops was there with his horse selecting technique: jumping on them bareback with a halter to test their reaction.
Well they lived up to the test and so we had a couple new mares, one, the one I call mine, happened to be at the prime of her life. 8 or 9 years old, cowy, quick, sound, calm with just the right amount of energy. Yup. A great little horse. Pops was thrilled. But this is where it gets a little complicated, so hang in there with me.
Pops is like personal shopper when it comes to picking out equines. He was so thrilled with this purchase, but at the time he was the only one riding horses on the place and what he really wanted was his buckskin back. So he called his buddy in the badlands. The buddy who currently owned his beloved buckskin horse, acquired through a previous horse trading deal (there have been multiple in this friendship). He said “buddy, I have a horse for you. You’ll love her. She fantastic. Wanna trade back?”
And his buddy did.
So pops had the buckskin and his badlands buddy had the mare. The mare he titled “Left’er,” claiming that pops had just come around one day and, well..left ‘er. Apparently that horse trade story didn’t sound the same when badlands buddy told it.
Anyway, so there pops sat for three years with his beloved buckskin whose sore feet deem him ridable about three times out of these summer. No worries, there are plenty more horses to ride. Horses that have come to the Veeder Ranch in the wake of a major meltdown only to be coaxed back to life, pops tolerant of their quirks in the end.
And badlands buddy, he was loving the mare. Riding her on mountain trail packing trips, through the badlands, herding cattle. That mare had his heart indeed. But badlands buddy is a wandering cowboy and when he made plans for a year-long trip to the mountains where he would be responsible for maintaing trails, he called pops.
And I came home at the end of June to find the mare munching oak leaves in the horse pasture below our house.
So I saddled her up and, well, I will not ride another I say.
I will not ride another.
She’s gentle, but not overly friendly. She’s got a little attitude and is hard to catch unless you have treats or a bucket of anything really. Because sister loves to eat. If we are running through clover field at top speed I swear she just opens her mouth to catch what ever plant might be at the proper height. The girl is hungry.
I can relate.
And when it comes to cows you might as well just take a seat, because she’s got it under control.
I’ve been riding her for a good two months now and I am more convinced every day that she’s the best horse I’ve ridden. Other’s may not agree, but that’s my story and we’re sticking to it, her and I. She makes this ranch woman’s life a little easier…and I don’t even mind her mohawk really because it means less time spent plucking burrs from her hair and more time spent getting business done.
Girlfriend needs a name.
And I need your help.
Now that you know our story it should be easy right? Oh, and I have incentives! If you haven’t noticed, I’ve been working on putting some of my photographs from this site up for sale on my Etsy site. See that tab up there that says “Store”? Yup. You pick a name that suits her and you can pick any print or necklace you want from there and I’ll send it to your door, a thank you for fixing this little predicament I have found myself in with no name to call out when heading to the pasture looking for her.
We’ll be out riding if you need us.
P.S. I am constantly adding photos and gifts to my Etsy site. I also have photos for sale in the Visitor’s Center in Watford City. If you see a photo here you would like in a print, canvas, barnwood frame, anything, I would love to fill your order. Just shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. These photos make great gifts for the North Dakota lover you know (especially if that North Dakota lover is, you know, yourself).
Christmas is coming.
And that’s my shameless plug.