This guy can RIDE. He’s been doing it his entire life, which currently is 60 years. Started out at about 5 years old on a pony his dad brought home to the ranch, and as he and his brother got a little bigger, they started colts that had little to no handling at all. Later, they took in colts to start for a local breeder, all the while learning how to not only get the horses going, but to do it without getting trashed out or injured too badly. They also had to crawl on some “trash” horses that already had some pretty bad traumas or “braces” built into them. Survival instincts for both entities in these relationships were quite strong. The horseman’s survival came down to three things: pure luck, exceptional athleticism, and a little knowledge gleaned the hard way.
The majority of his professional career has been spent in the saddle. He’s been a cowboy, a mule packer, wilderness hunting guide, pack trip outfitter, trail ride boss, horsemanship instructor, horse trainer, and farrier. He’s worn out a couple of saddles over the years, has more miles on horseback under his belt than nearly anyone I know, and fortunately, he has never been seriously injured around a horse, though not because he hasn’t been exposed to all sorts of dangerous or risky situations. Continuing education is always part of his work; he is a student of the horse, and aims high to do better for the relationship. He’ll tell you that he does not “love” horses, but respects everything they are capable of, and appreciates what they have to offer him as a human. And, he gives almost all of the credit to his ability and knowledge to horsemen he has known and/or studied.
You ask, why the dissertation on this horseman’s background? Because we all have much to learn from him, and how he came to the philosophies and practices he engages in today is defined by his lifetime spent working with horses of many shapes, sizes, and backgrounds. “He knows whereof he speaks”.
A fellow once commented that his adventure ride with us “was not the active, fast-paced loping ride I thought it would be” and though he had a great vacation, he was disappointed that he didn’t get to charge all over the range at a high gallop like the cowboys in the movies do. He had only been riding for 3 or 4 years, sporadically at most, and though he was fit and sat astride a horse fairly well, he just did not have the physical ability or developed skill set to ride fast without putting himself, his horse, or others on the ride in an unsafe position. Like many of us, he highly overrated his ability. When it comes down to it, when we are in the field, we call ’em like we see ’em, and if you can’t do it safely and correctly, you won’t be doing it on our watch. A lifetime of practical experience and observation is what you are paying us for, which goes directly to your safety and enjoyment.
That’s not to say that someone cannot become an excellent horseman/horsewoman and rider in a few years, however perspective plays its part; it takes a lot of extremely hard work consisting of many long hours in the saddle, endless ground work sessions, frustrating trial and error, and some frightening escapades to get even part of the way. It is a never-ending lesson in patience and perseverance, and the rewards are often tiny and far between. A commitment to physical fitness and good health is imperative, and not something many of us are prepared to participate in to the extent necessary to keep ourselves safe, and to do right by the horse.
What is the takeaway here? A Blue Sky Sage ride experience is for you at almost any skill level, be it novice to advanced, IF . . . you honestly admit that you are where you are, and you are willing to let our expertise help you to honestly discover that place so you can continue to improve. We are willing to share what we have learned over the past 50+ years in the saddle, in the spirit of “truth well told”, so you can become the best partner you can be with any horse that comes into your life. You owe it to yourself, and to that animal. Fair enough?