{Goodbye, Old Friend}

For Grandpa and Teton. May they be riding down those trails together again…

It’s been time for a while now… to say goodbye. And I knew you knew that when I walked out in the corral the other day on that cold and frosty morning. The time had come to let go. And I could hear Grandpa saying the same. The goosebumps came, the hair stood up on my neck, and the tears welled on my icy eyelashes while I slipped the halter on and walked you to the trailer…

It’s funny how one, single moment can cause a flood of memories. This moment, this short walk from the corral to the horse trailer with the last horse, Teton, Grandpa C.B. rode and called his own, did just that.

Memories of every single horse I’ve owned in my lifetime flashed through my mind; the good moments and the not so good. I could hear my grandpa’s words from that July day in 1989, as I stared at the carcass of my horse lying on the cold concrete floor in the vet’s office, my 12 year old heart crushed and broken, tears falling and his hand on my shoulder, “Sweetheart, you’re gonna outlive a lotta horses in this old life. You’re gonna have to toughen up.” I looked at him, thinking how cold and cruel and unfeeling he was, but now I know he was right.

And I have toughened up. I’ve had to thanks to my life’s path of working at the ranch with the horses and mules. I have outlived a lot of them; really good ones and some real pains in the ass. And none of them have been easy, but I’ve learned so much during these junctures in life. I just haven’t learned to say goodbye to these old friends very well.

Saying goodbye to Teton was really tough. The last memory I have of Grandpa at the ranch was on this quick little black and white pinto. He still carried himself with that snap of step and ears perked, but his body was failing him at 28. It was time, and it was the right thing to do. So, I smiled through tears closing that trailer door. I knew Grandpa would be waiting at the top of the pass for this good old boy, ready for that last ride through the mountains of time.

I find a little comfort in this thought… And I smile thanking God for all those horses I’ve had the pleasure of crossing trails with over the years, and the ones hopefully still to come. And although, goodbyes never come easy, I know they’re going to come regardless. And, like old cowboys and their horses deserve, I will honor them by carrying on and remembering what it means to be cowgirl tough.

May the good Lord bless and keep you; you and your old friends.

Happy Trails~

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Turn Out the Old Broodmare

I’ve recently decided that I am fast approaching what I call “broodmare” status.  Nothing center-drives that harsh fact home faster than having a beautiful & elegant seventeen year old daughter. (And possibly the sway back, crabby attitude, and hay belly that is starting to appear) And as much as I tell myself I don’t mind getting older, that age is only a number, I still seem to gracelessly accept this fact. But {hay}, I am also discovering there just may be some benefits to being the old broodmare…Here’s why:

  • Fillies are oggled over for their looks.  Ya know, nice straight legs, well-muscled & proportioned, a “v’d up chest”, strong hindquarters, and a pretty face to boot. Broodmares? Na. They’re just used-to-bes. Sway backs, gray hairs, and broom-tailed crabs, but she sure “has some nice-lookin’ babies”.
  • Somebody eventually tries to find the appropriate suitor, aka stud, for the filly; therefore, she always has to look and act her best.  The old girls don’t much care anymore, because the studs lookin’ their way ain’t much to talk over the darn fence about.
  • Young fillies have to prove themselves to be hard workers, reliable and dare I say? Unemotional? The first sign of PMS and attitude gets her labeled and probably reprimanded. Broodmares make darn sure everyone is well aware of their emotional status from the get go.  They don’t mince words, and you ain’t gonna get much outta them if you talk smart about it.
  • In order for the young girl to keep in shape, you have to feed her right and exercise her frequently.  After the old girl has foaled a couple of “keepers” you can pretty much bet that unless her teeth are bad, she can sustain on a rocky pasture with no grass or special needs, so she probably saves ya a little cash.  Basically, she’s less maintenance, and you better just lover her that way.
  • You have to teach the young filly EVERYTHING. You know gain her trust, teach her slow, let her make mistakes. Broodmares already know EVERYTHING. Even when you think they don’t. Don’t ever make the mistake of trying to tell ’em different. They didn’t make it this far by being stupid.
  • Youngsters think they have to be friends with the boys, and compete with the other fillies.  Old broads know where they stand with each other and learn to rely on their herd mates because they help get ’em through the cold months.

To sum ‘er up, I suppose aging ain’t all that bad.  With age comes a little wisdom, and a lot of life lived.  Old broodmare status is well-earned and well-deserved, so go ahead and turn me out in that pasture. And don’t worry young filly, you’ll be finishing that race faster than you ever dreamed!

Happy Trails~

Heather