Thursday, November 28, 2019

Thanksgiving - Renew your thankfulness

This morning on an early phone call with an old buddy of mine, which was a pleasant surprise, we talked about horses, but the conversation inevitably turned to our physical challenges and we both agreed that getting old isn't for sissies...he's 70 and I'm 60.....but we both also agreed that we are thankful of the blessings that are bestowed upon us when too many we know don't have those chances anymore. These blessings are too many to list but each of us have to count them nonetheless.

He told me words to the effect that "Hell, we don't need Thanksgiving Day to be thankful,..we need to be thankful every day and that starts with the Liberty this country provides and the opportunity to do something, like sit a horse. So I reckon how we honor our blessings is to not squander those opportunities."

I replied with something less poignant "well, I'm thankful that nothing or nobody has killed me yet, even when I deserved it." But to my credit, I am thankful that horses allow me to be in their lives and are agreeable creatures for the most part. And when they are not, it's almost always my fault.

George Washington's says it better. He was the first President to proclaim a day of Thanksgiving. It took Congress 152 years later to make it official. Some complain they (Congress) don't do anything quickly. I beg to differ - look at how fast they get in front of cameras, campaign for office and vote for their own pay raises. Anyway, here is George Washington's first Thanksgiving proclamation:

"Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor– and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness."

"Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be– That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks–for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation–for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war–for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed–for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted–for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us."

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions– to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually–to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed–to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord–To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us–and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best."

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.
Go. Washington

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

More on Barn Sourness

I received another question on barn sourness. A reader wrote - "I have a really good trail broke gelding, but he has one vice and that is whenever we go out at some point he decides its time to turn around for home. I have been always able to work through it easily and we continue on, just wondering if you have a method or tips for stopping the behavior completely. Thanks!"

​ I have known some barn sour horses over the years. As far as a horse taking over and refusing to go forward or turning for home on his own, it's a lot more common to have a horse who jiggs on the way back to the barn. And some people add to this by not controlling the gait or speed going back. I've always tried to look past this as I need a horse to go the direction I want at the gait and speed I want.

As far as your horse, just deciding it's time to turn around, well, first I admire his initiative! It's likely some mental pressure builds and he gets his relief by turning for home. The fact that you can work through it is good, and that likely his thinking shares equal if not more so with his instinct.

The worst cases of barn sourness are when the horse just stops and will not go forward in a direction away from his home barn. And I had another case of a rider I know who's horse would brace against the rider and reins, always turning towards home.<br><br>

In first case this rider would really bang on the horse to try to go forward then spur him which caused the horse to come off his front end - that's when he brought the horse to me. I only had him a couple of days and rode him in the arena where the horse would eventually want to move to the gate which was close to the other horses, so I made that end of the arena (the gate end) the hardest work for him, letting him take a break at the far end. This is likely a common interpretation of Tom Dorrance's advice 'to make the right thing easy and the wrong thing difficult (or work)'.  And in a couple sessions this horse was much better and did not try to move to the gate. This rider picked up the horse and I did not see him again. I doubt he had much success with that horse as this particular rider only wanted the horse to see his perspective and not look at the way the horse saw things.

I would try this - once your horse decides it's time to turn around and go home, don't let him turn, instead back him then turn him (make backing and turning your idea) then go ahead and go in that direction towards home making it work,..stopping, backing and jumping out; trotting small circles. You'd be doing this with the horse heading in the direction he wants to go, but it's you that is directing his feet and I'd do this for a couple minutes.

I wouldn't double him because as you make those turns he'll be facing away from home. I think the circles are okay because as you ride a circle away from him, his head will be bent a bit towards home.

So after some work facing home, turn him and walk him away from home. He'll likely be fairly quick to stop and turn around for home again, so repeat the work facing home for another minute or two, then turn him away and walk him away from home. You'll likely need to go this several times. At some point when you are walking him away from home, turn him and walk him back home. It has to be your idea to turn for home at this point - don't let it be his idea, but don't ask for too much in the beginning.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

RIP George Bankston, Chief of Range Enforcement

This past week we said goodbye to my old Boss, George Lewis Bankston, retired Chief of Range Enforcement. George crossed over to be with our Lord 82 years after he was born in Tahoka, Texas. Prior to me knowing him as Chief of Range Enforcement, where he hired me on as an Army Range Rider, George served in the US Army as a soldier, fighting in Vietnam and earning a Bronze Star and Purple Heart, retiring after 22 years of service as a Master Sergeant.

Serving for 18 years as Chief of Range Enforcement, George always balanced the Government ownership of 1.2 million acres of Fort Bliss military reservation with stewardship of the land and animals, and the needs of the ranchers grazing cattle on BLM managed grazing units.

El Paso, Texas sits in the South end of the Tularosa Basin where the Franklin and Hueco Mountains make up the West and East borders of the basin respectively. About 70 years ago, family ranches were bought up, or the government used other tools such as condemnation and/or imminent domain, to force families to move in order to create the Fort Bliss military reservation. George Bankston understood the distrust of the government these families and their descendants still had and he took great care in ensuring they had a voice and were treated with respect.

George took the Army's Range Enforcement Agency from a group of Cowboys removing trespass humans and cattle to a professional Law Enforcement Agency trained at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center at Glynco, Georgia with increased responsibility and authority for enforcing Wildlife, Archeological and Natural Resources law, while maintaining the origins of the agency in gathering trespass cattle and moving them to their home pastures. 

The photo at above is George with his six Army Range Riders at an awards ceremony. George not only towered above people physically, his intelligence was equal to his stature.

None of this would have been possible without George Bankston having a vision and lobbying the Army for funding and authority to create what he knew to be necessary to protect and be good stewards of the land and resources we were blessed to have.

After retiring from Range Enforcement, this great big bear of a man took great pleasure in teaching Sunday School and sharing the gospel of Christ at Waddill Street Baptist church in McKinney, Texas. No doubt George is with his children Mark and Jackie who went before him, and he left this life entrusting his four adult children, sixteen grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren to Tina, his wife of 63 years. I wish I had one more phone call with George. He was interned at Fort Bliss National Cemetery with Full Military Honors befitting man who served his country and the people so well in life. God Bless.