Saturday, July 23, 2016

National Day of the Cowboy

National Day of the Cowboy is both a organization and a day of the year to honor and preserve the pioneer heritage and Cowboy culture. The mission of the National Day of the Cowboy nonprofit organization is to contribute to the preservation of America’s Cowboy heritage so that the history and culture which the National Day of the Cowboy bill honors, can be shared and perpetuated for the public good, through education, the arts, literature, celebrations, gatherings, rodeos, and community activities. National Day of the Cowboy is observed annually on the fourth Saturday in July. The
12th National Day of the Cowboy is today, Saturday, July 23rd, 2016.

From the National Day of the Cowboy website:  "The era of the cowboy began after the Civil War in the heart of Texas. Cattle were herded long before this time, but in Texas, they grew wild and unchecked. As the country expanded, the demand for beef in the northern territories and states increased. With nearly 5 million head of cattle, cowboys moved the herds on long drives to where the profits were. Former President G.W. Bush said it well when he stated: “We celebrate the Cowboy as a symbol of the grand history of the American West. The Cowboy’s love of the land and love of the country are examples for all Americans.”

From my point of view we can't lose sight that American Cowboys developed much of their skills from examples of the Spanish Vaqueros whose unique brand of horsemanship is evident predominantly in the Californian and Great Basin Buckaroos.

Cowboying is alive today with full time cowboys, day workers and itinerant cowboys who gladly accept a low paying existence for the freedom of working outdoors on horseback. Cowboys are also exemplified by the professional horsemanship clinicians to work to enhance an understanding of the horse for all of us,....especially for the average backyard horse owner who may only ride a few times a month but dreams of riding in vast pastures and living by a simple but powerful code of conduct, one version which can be found in the book "Cowboy Ethics" by Jim Owen.

1) Live each day with courage. 2) Take pride in your work. 3) Always finish what you start. 4) Do what has to be done. 5) Be tough, but fair. 6) When you make a promise, keep it. 7) Ride for the brand. 8) Talk less and say more. 9) Remember that some things aren't for sale. 10) Know where to draw the line.

Bethany Braley, Executive Director & Publisher for the National Day of the Cowboy nonprofit organization, is available for interviews or to speak to your group or organization regarding the history of this campaign and the challenges we face in achieving permanent passage of the Day of the Cowboy Bill. She has been working continuously on the effort since November 2004, and offers key information on how you and your community or organization may become actively involved in contributing to the success and celebration of this historic grassroots quest. She can be contacted at or by calling 928-795-0951

Friday, July 15, 2016

More on the CSI Saddle Pad

The more I use my CSI Pad, the more I like it and doubt I'll be using anything else.
The CSI Pad is actually a two piece saddle pad. The bottom piece, either 1/2 or 3/4 inch thick, is wool felt and combines with a thinner top pad, which is the CSI flex plate sandwiched between two layers of automotive carpet, to make the complete pad.  
The flex plate is a flat plate of polycarbonate that the bars of the saddle rest over, dissipating the pressure, often the uneven pressure of a saddles bars and rider's weight.

The pressure displacing plate, sandwiched or sewn between two sections of automotive carpet has a narrow strip of Velcro which mates to the felt pad.
Both have pads have holes in the spine to vent heat off the horse's back. I admit that if you separate these two pieces, it takes a little patience aligning the holes, but the concept of a replaceable wool felt pad is a really a great idea and allows you to separate the pads for cleaning. I have two CSI pads, one with a 1/2 inch felt liner and the other is a 3/4 inch felt liner, which are natural felt. I haven't had the need to replace a liner yet and will likely being buying another CSI pad this year.

These are high dollar saddle pads. If you are like me, you'll be eating bologna sandwiches for a month in order to afford one, but you won't be disappointed. In the picture above you can see from the wet spots on the horse's back how the CSI Flex Plate disperses pressure from the bars of the saddle and the rider's weight, keeping pressure off the spine. The CSI Pads are contoured for the withers which make it easy to position and comfortable for the horse.

CSI also offers a Western round skirt and English cut Saddle Pads as well. CSI also has shims available for horse's with anatomical issues. CSI counsels that most horse's do not need the shims and you should consult with one of their saddle fit experts before buying.
While I clean my CSI felt liners using a metal curry brush being careful not to tear up the felt in the process, CSI does offer a rubber cleaning brush which, to be truthful, doesn't work very well for me, hence the metal curry brush for scraping away the built up of hair and dirt before I wash the pad.
Again, if you end up buying one of the CSI pads, you won 't be disappointed......more importantly, I don't your horse will either.      

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Getting your Horse Coming Over for Saddling - Unsaddling

If I'm in an arena throwing loops or otherwise dismounting and having to mount again and again, I'll often just get on the fence and have my horse side up to me so I can mount easily and with less stress to the horse. I've had many people ask me  "How did you get your horse to do that?"

What I tell them is that in the beginning most horses will want to face you up if you are on a platform. In other words they will stand perpendicular to the platform or fence. And, if you lead a horse to a platform, most will stand until you get up on the platform, then they move their back end away to see you, which takes them away from you and makes it harder, if not impossible to mount. This comes mainly from the horse's discomfort with seeing something or someone above them and in the beginning not understanding what you are asking of them.

Then I'll continue explaining, that I'll start with halter and lead line, and while I'm sitting on a fence rail, or even standing on a platform like a mounting block, I'll rhythmically bump on the lead rope giving a verbal cue such as "come over" and just when the horse begins to move his feet, I'll stop the bumping. I'll pause for 5-10 seconds then begin again. Doesn't matter if the horse moves one way then the other,...... with a little patience the horse will eventually side up to you so you can mount. Pet on him first.

I believe I heard in an interview with Margaret Dorrance, wife of the late Tom Dorrance, that Tom was teaching her horse, or teaching Margaret to teach horse, to come over to the trailer step or mounting block so she could more easily put a saddle on the horse's back and also mount from the platform. Margaret asked "why do I need to do be able to do that" and Tom replied to the effect that "you'll need this when you get older". That stuck with me over the years. And if you are the one in a thousand who have not heard of Tom Dorrance you should be going to this site.

Anyway, when I ask a horse to come over and get parallel with me while I am on a platform, some horse's will like to put their left side to you and some their right side. So remembering the interview one day when I was in my trailer, I asked my horse tied to the trailer to come over to me so I could take his saddle off and he did lickity split. It was the same side he always presented to me to mount and he did it right away. 

On another horse, the horse in the video below, I wanted to try the same thing, asking him to come over giving me his right side, when he always gave me his left side as I asked him to come over to mount. I wanted to see how easily he could discern what I was asking him and why. So from the trailer tack room, I ask him to come over to unsaddle and I could see he was not understanding what I was asking. So I used a flag and tapped on his off side, the left side, as I asked him to come over. As soon as he moved his feet. I stopped tapping and paused for 5-10 seconds then started again. Within a minute he understood and sided up to me so I could reach the saddle from the platform of the trailer tack room.

Now I'd like to think that I really won't be needing to use a platform to saddle or unsaddle for the next decade or two, but I'm just a couple of years away from 60 and have seen many of my friends go to lighter saddles or not ride as much due to the toll of cumulative injuries or just plain aging physically. But getting the horse to think and learn is always a good thing. Safe Journey.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Independence Day

240 years have gone by since 4 July 1776 when the Declaration of Independence, written largely by Thomas Jefferson, was unanimously approved by the Continental Congress, marking the beginning of the a new nation, comprised then of 13 sovereign states, and called the United States of America. Since then America has been a beacon for freedom for individuals and nations across the world. No other Country is as charitable with it's blood or treasure.

The signing of the Declaration of Independence was preceded with hostilities between England and the Colonies in which the shooting war began with the Battles of Lexington and Concord on 19 April 1775 when the British marched to seize colonialist cannons, shot and powder.

The War for American Independence from England effectively ended in October 1781 with the surrender of General Cornwallis' British Army. During those 6 1/2 years of fighting, it was often in doubt if the fledging nation would win it's independence - but the Colonialists won their freedom, not for themselves but for every generation since. That just may be why American's love underdogs.

Happy Independence Day and safe journey!