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News & Musings - Latigo Guest / Dude Ranch

Winter Pastures

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Phase I

About 4 weeks ago we moved our horse herd the 7 miles down to the Gore Pass Ranch where they could enjoy some grass. Our snow depth at Latigo was higher than normal and our grass was shorter than normal by early November. We loaded 9 horses in one of our trailers and took them down to the pasture along Colo. Hwy. 134 just off of U.S. Hwy. 40. These were the older and infirmed.  

After the truck pulled out, Spencer, Hannah, Randy and a friend, Cheryl, headed the remaining 64 horses out of the corral.  The plan was for Spencer to lead and keep the horses at a pace something less than a full-out run.  The remaining three riders were to keep the herd from splitting up. The route from the Barn leads out past the George home, the Friday night cookout site, the Saturday morning breakfast site, down the 1,500 feet of elevation drop, across Red Dirt Creek, and on to the winter pasture.

However, 9 horses chose not to cooperate. They split off from the herd, pranced and bucked as they ran around and finally back to the barn. By then, they were confused and didn't know where their mates were. So, Randy and Hannah left them in the corral. Cheryl had followed the herd. Randy and Hannah moved out at a good clip trying to catch up.

The horses usually go to a different pasture for the winter - one at the Taussig Ranch.  It wasn't ready for us yet.  Once we were down by the Hinnman Reservoir, on part of the Taussing ranch,  the horses didn't know which way supposed to go next, and things were rather chaotic for a time.  Eventually they got lined out, went through the proper gate, and were then home free.

Phase II

The grass was about gone as of yesterday, and it was time to move the herd a couple of miles from where they were grazing to their regular winter playground, where they will be routinely fed hay. While Jim was setting up some portable fencing to contain and direct the herd from the Gore Pass Ranch meadow to the McGee pasture on the Taussig place, Spencer and Randy were catching and saddling horses. Travis, the manager of the Gore Pass Ranch, was saddled up and ready to go. Travis was essential because he knows all of the dips, draws, and bumps in the pasture.  In short, he knew where we were going.  

Oh, I should mention that it was ZERO degrees Fahrenheit - the warmest it had been in a couple of days. 

The three of us rode in about 6 to 8" of snow. We gathered the herd and started them down to the creek bottom on their way west.  For this move, everything actually went relatively well. Except... 

The horses were reluctant to cross the frozen creek.  We coaxed some across, and most followed.  About 20 did not. After a couple of hours, miles of back and forth, and multiple tries at multiple places along the creek, just as the sun was setting behind one of the sagebrush covered hills, we finally got the 20 renegades to go across in the same place where the others had earlier.

After that, the horses moved right out.  The temperature plummeted. The last 1/2 mile, at a run, across open snow-covered meadow and into the McGee was brisk to say the least. The horses were finally all safely where they were supposed to be.  Once back in the vehicles, we started to warm up a bit.  All of us had pain in our fingers and toes when we could feel them again. It was well past dark when we started back up toward Latigo.

Thanks to Travis and his wife Janie (She helped with the tractor.  A part of the story I omitted for brevity.) for their  parts in another fun-filled winter outing!