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When I was a little girl I dreamed of being a sheep herder, much to my parent’s embarrassment. I watched the herders from a distance when we were working in the same mountains, and it was my fantasy career. You didn’t have to come home at night ever! People brought you groceries; you lived with your horse and dog. Perfect!

Sheep and cattlemen have some long standing dislike of one another. So I really did embarrass everyone quite a lot with my fantasy job.

Growing up I finally realized no one would hire a woman to live alone on the mountain, and I married very young anyways. I still think I’d like it though. I always tease husband I will run away and get a job for them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2,622 ·
By mid-morning of our last day, the cattle were loaded and ready to move to their winter range. The cows were separated from their calves. The calves will go to feed lots and then to slaughter. The cows, many of them pregnant, went to winter range. They will be corralled there with little feed for a couple of days. If let loose immediately, they might spread all over trying to find their calves! But once they are hungry enough, they will focus on eating and then will move as a herd. They used to trail them 70 miles to the winter range, but now usually haul them by truck. It was my wife's first time in an 18-wheeler! It cost $500 to fill the gas tank.
Their winter grazing allotment is near Temple Mountain. About 200 cattle which will graze on 65,000 acres for the winter. 200 cows. 100 square miles.
Unloading the cattle isn't always entirely straightforward:
Not prime grazing land. You'd be in trouble if you had 500 acres here for farming. My friend's wife of 35 years is sort of from this area. Her grandfather and great-grandfather homesteaded out here, and in the 1920s had 500+ horses they raised as remounts for the US Cavalry - mostly thoroughbreds. However, when the Taylor Grazing Act was passed, land was granted to private owners based on tax records and apparently they had been less than forthcoming on their taxes. As a result, they hadn't filed on much land, didn't have the tax data showing how much land they used....so they lost all claim to it. It is an accident of history that one of their granddaughters now is part of a ranch using that land!
Heading back to the home ranch:
It was 3 pm when we got back & my wife and I headed out shortly after that. We made reservations in Page AZ. Took about 5 1/2 hours to drive there, mostly obeying the speed limit. Not a typical vacation, but I think it is a privilege for a town boy like myself to see a genuine working ranch in an area that is both beautiful AND very hard to eek a living out of. The hours are long, the work hard and the reward variable. This year, the three herds that got mixed up all took heavy losses - and all in proportion. They suspect predation that was enabled by marginal sheep herders because no one can hire good ones right now. They think a lot of coyotes lived on lamb this summer.

Regulation is another problem. Most of the folks now in the US Forest Service and BLM are NOT sympathetic - nor knowledgeable - to or about ranching! The ranchers can try to explain but too many 30 year old natural resource types (what I wanted to do out of college) think they know everything there is to know. And part of what they "know" is ranching is evil, private business is evil, and humans have no right to "use" Mother Gaia. There is a reflexive hostility toward ranching and my friend's family is looking to reduce their dependence on government grazing permits because those permits can be cut on the government's whim. The days of operations like these are, IMHO, limited because the votes are found in the cities and they folks in the cities cannot imagine what this sort of life is like.

PS: My editorializing is MY view. Still have some friends who have finished working in the Forest Service and BLM. They say the same thing - that the days of "multiple use" that we were taught in college are disappearing due to politics. But my views are my own and not entirely in synch with the ranching family.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2,623 ·
Growing up I finally realized no one would hire a woman to live alone on the mountain
They hired an American woman to herd a couple of years ago. She worked one year and they said she did a great job. Not much experience, but she listened and worked hard and they would have been glad to hire her again. But she didn't want another year. FWIW, she went everywhere armed. People can disappear in the back country too..... 😕 It isn't all pretty country and smiles!
 

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Discussion Starter · #2,624 ·
Moving: I'd be willing to work on moving NOW. My wife? Not so enthused. She likes the area. Both of us, on the whole, liked the area around Price more than we did Richfield. Price is much more desert and we've lived in the desert for years. We LIKE the desert! We were also told the area around Price is "less Mormon". I spent 8 years in Utah and that is worth considering if you aren't Mormon. You couldn't PAY me to move to the Wasatch Front, which is now very urban and not very Mormon...but when the vast majority of a population is LDS (or Baptist, maybe, in the Southeast)...then being of a different religion can be awkward.

My wife likes the idea of 4 seasons, of being able to plant an orchard, of having a vegetable garden that doesn't get cooked by the morning sun. She really likes the style of the older homes - one pulled off the Internet at random:
But...it is a long way to go look at houses and a lot would depend on finding the right property. We both agree we aren't likely to FIND the right property for the next year or maybe two. And at some point, moving will get hard due to age. :confused: I'd like us to fly to Salt Lake this winter, rent a car and spend some time looking around in the cold. If we think 4 seasons is the answer, we can keep an eye on things. But we might also consider getting a travel trailer and driving up a couple times a year as an alternative. Particularly since the house market is still insane and finding a property where we can keep horses limits us.
 

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Beautiful country and a cool vacation! How did you manage your horses when you were away? Even leaving for a couple hours, I am always thinking ' I need to get back to my herd '.

It is tough looking at far-away properties. Before we bought our current property, I drove 14 hours round trip to look at places on the eastern shore of Virginia a couple of times.

The desert is a fascinating,captivating place. Years ago,while driving through the high plains of Nevada and Wyoming, I just wanted to park the car and walk out there,become part of the scenery.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2,626 ·
How did you manage your horses when you were away?
Our oldest granddaughter watched the dogs and horses for us. For pay. She didn't do a flawless job, but it was good enough and a good growing experience for her. She has a couple years of high school left. We're hoping she'll want to watch them again. I like horses but they can be quite limiting too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2,627 ·
Before and after ride pictures today. The new saddle pad is only 3/4 inch thick, versus the old one's 1 inch - although the old one had worn down to maybe 1/2". Anyways, I decided to add a Mayatex blanket to it. I like the look and it gives Bandit a thicker feel to him. He's a freakishly NARROW horse.

There is a thread on helmet versus no helmet. The no helmet world is largely limited now to western riding, and many western riders consider helmets mandatory now too. Heck, I wore a helmet today and will most days because almost all of our riding now starts and ends with riding on pavement. Add he wears hoof boots and the chance of slipping just seems too high for me to chance it. But overall, western riders are far more likely to go without a helmet.

However, I was thinking about it while riding today. A forward, rotating fall off the horse is the best way to hit your head. If you fall off backwards or twist sideways, the initial blow is likely to be to the shoulder or back. Landing shoulder first arguably reduces (not eliminates!) peak noggin impact.

Before we went on vacation, I was riding Bandit in our arena, practicing cantering in two point. I pointed him toward some grass and told him to slow. He apparently saw a clump of grass just to the right of us because he slammed on the brakes and twisted to the right, for an impressive canter/stop 90 right turn combo. I was unprepared for it, hits the swells...but the swells acted like the poleys of my Aussie saddle, stopping the forward motion of my hips and twisting my hips around. Automatically, with no input from me, just like the Aussie saddle did. Only the pressure was applied higher on the thigh.

Bandit gave some nice full trots and canters today, but one of his canters turned into a racing canter. I didn't see the other horses but he was hauling buns at a speed that deserved a full gallop, not a sewing machine canter. I was in a half-seat or maybe a little higher. But suppose he slammed on the brakes, or stumbled. Assuming I came off - likely if he stumbled - it looked to me like the rise in the ground of the saddle, plus the swells, would automatically twist me sideways as I came off, so I'd be more likely to hit shoulder or back first.

I've long since lost the link, but I read a long time ago that English saddles were associated with a much higher risk of head injury. Western saddles were associated with a higher risk of shoulder and back injuries. I figured that made sense because English saddles are used in jumping and jumping involves much greater risk. But...maybe the design of the western saddle results in western riders, in the same sort of fall, hitting shoulder first? And the head being a secondary impact? A secondary impact COULD kill you, but the risk of death ought to be lower.


VS

Don't know and I don't know of a way to test my hypothesis.

BTW - Bandit is as "western" as a horse ought to get. Arabian/Mustang from the Navajo Nation, ridden in the Sonoran Desert. But he's not into "jog" or "lope". When it is time to move out, he seems to figure he might as well MOVE. And my contract with him says I'll figure out how to ride it. Good horse but I think we were both a bit tired by the end of ride.
 

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Beautiful and interesting pictures. Fascinating to see how they work with the animals.

I believe the kind of horses you ride and what type of riding you do has more of an effect on injuries than the saddle. Meaning, the three concussions I had from getting bucked off Amore that convinced me to wear a helmet all occurred in a western saddle.
 

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Adding a little more to my earlier post...

The first time I galloped fast in a western saddle, I could feel that the forces were strong enough that I would easily fall out of the saddle if something went wrong. It's like how you can't hold onto something if the force is high enough...at some point what you are doing with the horse creates enough force that it overrides the mechanical advantages the style of the saddle might give you at slower speeds.
That's what I believe anyway.

This was one reason why I changed to riding in an english saddle. Slightly hard to explain, but I reached a level of riding where if what the horse did could get me off, it required enough force that it would get me off regardless of the tack I was using. My thought is that with that kind of force, the way you land depends on other factors than the saddle. But I think at slower speeds or with less force, the tack could easily factor in to how you come off or land.

The way I was coming off horses, having more tack was a problem, because coming off cleanly meant less injuries since I was coming off anyway.
 

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I haven’t ridden too much in an English saddle, but I feel fairly confident in them. I say fairly because it’s in my head where I struggle. When Bones was a colt and I was riding him english one day, my dad came out and said we should cut. “Ummm, did you look at my saddle?” He said get over myself, he could cut in an English saddle if he wanted to. Won some bet in one once, but I can’t remember the story.

So I cut on Bones, and really it was fine. Yet getting on Queen in the English saddle that day I felt super vulnerable.

I like the way an English saddle places you. I think the occasional use improves my riding.

My fear isn’t of hitting my head. It’s endoing. There are certain rules pounded in to my head from my father and even some from my grandfather.

I have an issue. When a horse falls, I stick in that saddle like glue. Ya, good for a bucking horse, but not good when you need to get out of the way. I did manage to jump off of Cash mid fall once, but every other time I was centered. When he was teetering between flipping and getting himself back up I never wanted to move knowing I would flip because our balance was so precarious.

He doesn’t fall like that anymore, but most of our biggest wrecks in my lifetime have been from endoing a horse. Usually from having the horse opened up to turn a cow and getting a foot caught or in a hole or whatever.

Grandpa says, “bend your knees, make it a habit, just pick up your knees!” I can’t mentally do it! It’s too far into a wreck before I think of it. He says, if you pick up your knees high in a fall, as soon as it begins, most of the time you will be thrown clear of the horse. “Bend your knees!”

I’m pretty sure if I get endoed with on Cash, and he flips his weight onto me, that I am done for. Sure, placement could be just perfect, like when I endoed Chagrin and all that happened was being knocked out and getting a concussion, but just a saddle horn to the chest, a cantle to the back… there are so many ways a giant horse could make for some giant damage.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2,631 ·
Had to look up endoing: "1.Verb. To crash. Usually but not limited to a bicycle or motorcycle. Short term for "end over end" or "end over the front" First coined a term in the mid 1970's..."

I think my issue is concern for coming face first off the front of the horse, based on how Mia spooked by either suddenly stopping and dropping, or by her immediate, violent spin. I sometimes got bruises from the poleys on my Aussie saddle before I learned to use my stirrups to prevent being slammed forward so hard. My only fall so far was a violent spin & leap when I was trying to dismount. I agree if the movement is violent enough, all bets are off. But I hit my back first, and then my head (wearing a baseball cap). My head didn't hurt but my back still has issues sometimes.

I've read head injuries are much more likely when someone comes off the front. That was why Littauer stopped teaching the old Italian Cavalry method of gripping with the knees - too many students were falling on their heads and they didn't if they kept their knees loose. I'm probably needlessly paranoid from my time on Mia.

You made a good point on the thread about helmets about the risks of ranching being part of life. My friend said his scariest time was when he realized his youngest son had decided to take the sheep down the mountain after a sale...in a blizzard. No cell phone reception out there and he and his wife sweated it for a day before their son and sheep showed up safe. They thought there was a real chance they'd never see him alive again. The son says it was one of the dumbest things he ever did. But ranch life is inherently dangerous. They think it is funny that someone who spent his adult life strapping into ejections seats and getting shot at (badly) finds ranching too risky for my tastes, but....a different sort of risk. At least to me. Although what I'd really stress out over is working for a year and THEN finding out if you made any money!

Still, people who hike or work or DO things in the big outdoors have to accept risks. Even breaking down in a truck can mean a 30 mile walk to help. It could be the difference in helmet use has more to do with becoming callous about risks, particularly since the risk of head injury....well, everything I can find says it is huge if you jump. Can be when training a horse or dealing with problem horses. But it is pretty small for riding flat on typical horses who aren't being pushed to their own limits of performance in the quest of sports.

That is part of what I need to figure out about Bandit and running. Is he doing it for FUN, or is he feeling I'm pushing him to do it. Because I'm not, but his background includes being ridden with very different expectations than mine! If he's enjoying it, then I'm sure HE will slow if the ground needs it. But if he thinks it is what I want from him...maybe nnot.

If Bandit falls while hauling butt, I'm going to get hurt. Leaves open IF I should let him go that fast or not. He certainly had many, many miles of cantering and galloping in his past life. I definitely want to have a helmet on IF we try it because I'm not God's gift to riding and because we have so few places with smooth ground. I'd LOVE a nice dirt road somewhere but we're lucky to have that for 100+ yards.

Whatever his faults, Bandit is a vastly safer horse to ride than Mia! It is so good to have a horse who thinks!
 

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Discussion Starter · #2,632 ·
Grandpa says, “bend your knees, make it a habit, just pick up your knees!” I can’t mentally do it! It’s too far into a wreck before I think of it. He says, if you pick up your knees high in a fall, as soon as it begins, most of the time you will be thrown clear of the horse. “Bend your knees!”
I'll try to remember this. No one knows what will go thru one's mind but maybe if this is in the background of mine, it will click if I need it.
 

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I remember it too, but I am too late always! Maybe it will save me one day though. We’ve all endoed horses. I have a couple times, my mother has a hole in her thigh from the saddle horn hitting it endoing. Husband’s done it and my father has many times I’m sure. Grandpa of course probably had endoed many times.

They’ve been drug, but I’ve been lucky enough not to. I almost did once. Husband was drug a long ways by a bucking horse when his spur got caught in his cinch.

Here’s another rule for the back of your mind. Roll if you are being drug. Often it will pull your foot out. Sometimes it is in falling that you get hung up, and try and hold the horse down.

My dad rolled one horse who fell on him off of him once to save himself from a sure kick to the head. He’s still a powerhouse.

These kinds of things are pounded into our kids. It saves lives.

I can’t imagine how you did what you did. I think I would pass out! The military wouldn’t appreciate that. Lol
 
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Discussion Starter · #2,634 · (Edited)
Apart from your daughter @Knave, what about head injuries? Any from endoing? I expect to mostly wear a helmet riding around here if only because I'm now doing a lot of riding on pavement, but I'm curious about what others have experienced in head injuries and horses.
 

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I think my grandpa’s dad died when grandpa was young from coming off a colt and hitting his head on a rock in a canyon. If I remember right grandpa found him. He’d already had a bad injury from a kick to the head I believe. When I endoed Chagrin when I was nine, I’m sure I had a concussion. I remember wanting to sleep right there, but crawling to the road so my father would find me.

My father had a mri for something, and it showed his skull was once broken from above his eyebrow all the way over his head and down. He remembered what horse wreck that was, but I can’t remember what he said. He once was in a coma for two weeks when he was little from a horse wreck, maybe that was what caused it. There is an old newspaper article I have that covered his accident.

When JP, that roan horse, bucked him off I’m sure he had a concussion. He was very confused, but more long lasting was new damage to his shoulder, which he couldn’t move for a couple months.

People are rarely taken in to the doctor, so most things go untreated and unknown. Shoot, I didn’t know that horse broke my neck when I was little until an adult mri.

I don’t think my daughter would have gotten a head injury from getting bucked off if she hadn’t had such a bad one from the basketball.

The neighbor’s boy endoed a horse last year, trying to chase a poacher. He had bleeding on the brain and they just managed to save him. He had to wear a helmet riding for a little while. He doesn’t now, and even plays football this year.

The neighbor on the other side is on concussion 7! He is reckless though, and maybe that’s because of the concussions. His dad was hurt very badly when he was a young boy from a kick to the head, and he took over the work as a 7th grader. I substitute taught him back then.

So, yes, there have been some good head injuries in my circle. I’m sure there are lots I’m forgetting. One man I went to school with has had over 30! He’s crazy as all get out, and people joke he’s unkillable. It doesn’t make sense to me, how dramatically my daughter’s life has been altered, but I was pointed out by my aunt that these people are probably very effected as well.

Yet, there are tons of other injuries involving cattle and equipment. Pesticides and dust, and things you don’t even think about. Broken ribs and punctured lungs seem more common.
 
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Discussion Starter · #2,636 ·
Hmmm...maybe cattle are more dangerous than sheep? My friend and one son keep a couple hundred cattle but mainly for diversification. They aren't fond of working cattle. One son refuses. He'll help out with the cattle but refuses to own any. Of course, none of them have been seen in the hospital - can't afford it - so maybe they have previous injuries they don't realize. They all ride in sneakers and ball caps (or wool watch caps). The sneaker thing freaks me out. But I can't imagine putting a helmet on for a 12-14 hour day.

Thanks for the perspective. All the ranchers I've known have bee kicked, hit, knocked down, etc. I was flattened by rams working for a biochemical company in college. And I will always remember when my friend asked me to help him brand and castrate a couple of calves. Seemed a bit late but I showed up and those calves weighed 800 lbs. No horses. Him. Me. A stout post in the center of the corral. And about 3 hours of brutal work for 2 darn "calves"!
 

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I think sheep take a different kind of riding. Cows are fast and quicker to separate. Of course sheep can be fast, but the herders I’ve seen ride a different caliber of horse. They seem like gentle plugs, and the herders don’t seem to love horses like cowboys do.

Cowhorses have to be quick and catty. Things happen fast. Cashman is not particularly quick or catty, but he manages.

I’m sure there are a lot of injuries that go unknown in both worlds though.
 
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I think my issue is concern for coming face first off the front of the horse, based on how Mia spooked by either suddenly stopping and dropping, or by her immediate, violent spin.
This happened to me a few years ago, I think it was when I had first gotten Fizz but it could have been Isabel, I don't remember now. We were cantering on an easy trail behind the boarding barn, I was in two point (clearly more precariously than I thought), horse tripped hard on a root and went to her knees, I went straight over her neck and took most of the fall straight on my face. Gave myself a good black eye, and I'm sure I split my nose down the middle. I was insanely lucky as I fell mostly on soft woods trail footing, with a really large rock inches from the imprint my face made in the dirt.

The pain was instant. It was a rare Sunday afternoon when not a soul was at the barn for some reason, not even the barn owner who was always there. I walked the horse back to the barn and my whole body was trembling. I don't really remember untacking and turning back out but obviously I did. Maybe the worst part was that my husband was in the Caribbean at some bachelor party weekend and I was home alone, so I had to drive home and figure out what to do to take care of myself. The drive home was down a really narrow dirt road leaving the barn, and some a**hole in a massive truck going twice as fast as he should have been ran me off the road into a ditch in my little sedan and popped my tire, bending the frame enough there was no way I could deal with it myself. So I was probably mildly concussed, alone on the side of a road with barely any cell service, and had no choice but to wait for a wrecker truck to come get me and the car and tow it back to my house. Meaning I had no way to get out to urgent care (husband had second car parked at the airport). It took over an hour for the tow. That was probably the scariest injury, not because I was really that badly hurt (though a black eye is always dramatic) but because it's a terrible feeling to realize you're alone when you really need some help.
 

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Here is my sell video of JP I made once when he was five. It’s not working, but kind of shows the type of moves you are needing at work. You can skip all the circles loped. It’s different than the videos I usually show of playing, because it was showcasing the talent of the horse.

 
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Discussion Starter · #2,640 ·
The video is like the video that gave me a clue how to stay on Mia. Except one never knew WHEN she would move like that, which led to me constantly riding kind of weird.

I think you are right about the sheep. Herding involves a huge amount of WALKING across very rough country. Sheep love steep slopes so the herders are on them all the time. But the vast majority is at a walk. I can see where cattle would require more....agility. And high speed work. That is why I like it when Bandit decides, in the arena, to do a turning stop, or shifts to a canter without asking. Gives me practice at riding sudden, quick movements. When he spooks now, it is just something we do sometimes. Nothing to freak out over.
it's a terrible feeling to realize you're alone when you really need some help.
Both times I've been hurt - when Mia exploded during a dismount and when her saddle slipped all the way over on her side and I had to jump off - my family was out of town. Stinks to hurt all over and have no one around to help out!
 
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