Sunday, June 24, 2018

Yellowstone - the series

            Apparently this series just premiered in the last week – and I’ve already had a couple of emails.

            I rarely watch TV, and I won’t dignify this show by adding myself to the Nielsen Ratings.

            Wikipedia says this series “follows the conflicts along the shared borders of an Indian reservation, land developers, and Yellowstone National Park”.

            Well, this show is ostensibly about cows – but it is pure bullshit!  The only conflict that could exist along those shared borders are those generated by a greedy landholder.  Neither did I ever watch the show “Dallas”, but it sounds like the same kind of drama.

            One of my followers said that everyone in the show has on clean shirts, clean gloves, rides in a clean pickup, and never has to stop to open a wire gate – something he has never seen in Montana.

            Wasn’t it Costner who “danced with wolves”?  I’ve never met the guy, but it seems like he’d do anything for a dollar.

            I’ve met my neighbor Michael Keaton, on the other hand, and he has proven to me to be a genuine guy.

            Of course no one asked me - but I give the series "Yellowstone" two thumbs down.

            If you have a REAL interest in the REAL West, you can read about it in this blog.  I've lately been a slacker, but you can scroll down and find out what happens on a real ranch in the real west.
            And you can buy my book - Ain't This Romantic - on Amazon, and learn about the REAL drama in the modern, and REAL West.


Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Why Plow-Rein?

            Anyone who aspires to neckrein his horse – be he a Western rider or a polo player – and who starts the horse’s training using the plow-rein, has never asked himself “Why”?

            Plow-reining – or “direct reining”, as it is called by clinicians – is the method of pulling on the left rein when you want the horse to go left – just as you do with a plow-horse.  Neck-reining is the gentle nudge of the neck toward the direction you wish to go - guiding him with one hand just as handling the joy-stick of a video game.

            Imagine your partner standing behind you, and she wants you to look to the left.  Would you wish her to hook her finger in your cheek and pull to the left?  Or would you prefer that she gently touch you on the right cheek to turn you head?

            Like most people, I once started my young horses in a snaffle bit, using a plow rein, and slowly transitioned them to a neckrein.  It is the same principle as teaching a kid to steer a bulldozer before introducing him to a car.

            But one day, my 10-year-old daughter said “Why, Daddy”?  I’ve never plow-reined a horse since.

            After that I was able to guarantee a green horse to ‘neckrein in a halter bareback’ in 30 days of training.  Since then I have started countless horses, and have a 35-year string of especially light-mouthed and responsive ranch horses.  Every time I see someone using two hands on the reins, I ask “Why”?

            Many of the horses I was starting at the time of my daughter’s question were range horses straight off the reservation.  Some had to be roped for a day or two until I could gain their trust.  All of them left with a light mouth and an easy neckrein – as I had started them neck-reining on the first ride, and eliminated the confusion of a long transition period.

            The first time I am on top of a horse I ask him to back.  Then I lay a rein across his neck and ask him to flex.  If he fails to flex his neck, I “check” him with the reins, and ask again.  In seconds, he is responding.

            From that time on, he is neck-reining.  Any time he fails to flex I check him, then ask again. 

My horses ride for miles on a slack rein, and turn at any speed with only the most subtle change in the position of my wrist. I prefer the feel of a pair of reins in my hand, and I need room for the coils of my rope in one hand and the loop in the other.  But my horses will cut cattle just as well with only a halter and lead-rope.

            If you’re ever in Montana and want to ride a real “reining” horse, stop by!