A Cowboy’s Faith: Horses lives change, too

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“Put him out to pasture when his work is done.”

It’s a common view about old horses and sadly sometimes similar opinion of retirement age people.

When a cowboy’s told “no riding horses for six months,” mounts’ routines change too.

The 13-year-old buckskin performance mare Maggie has been “boxed up” ever since getting her six years ago.

That’s not completely true, but the ornery show horse has been kept inside all of the time. It might seem inconsiderate, perhaps even inhumane for those not completely understanding the importance of quality horse condition.

Yet, to compete successfully in today’s horseshows, horses must be well fit. That means bright slick hair unaltered by sunshine and outdoor elements. Horse mane and tail styles, not unlike hair fashions of today’s cowboys and cowgirls, have changed through the decades.

Compared to yesteryear horses’ manes being roached with tails thinned and shortened, most show horses nowadays have naturally long manes and tails. That requires more owner management so the horses’ extended hairs don’t become tangled, ratted, damaged. Horses kept outside are naturally inclined to rub on fences, posts and the like messing up their manicured flowing tresses.

Clarification, Maggie had a clean stall being turned out every morning through afternoon to exercise around the indoor arena. She was ridden almost daily, sometimes briefly, frequently more extensively.

Still the show horse was pleased when her home became the barnyard corral. With a shelter, still amply fed, and freedom to do as she wants all of the time without any riding.

The 20-year-old homebred patterned arena racing champion Cody doesn’t have it quite that good, as least he thinks not.

Actually Maggie took his ranch pen, and Cody went to college, although that might sound strange for an old horse. Ridden daily throughout the summer with racing competitions every weekend, Cody’s winter work was consistent yet less intense.

The palomino had been loaned previously to the family who bought the now gelding as a baby and trained him. He helped gain their yearend high school rodeo points after losing another horse, and served as a flag bearer.

Cody is now a Colby College cowgirl’s mount already winning barrel racing money and speeding out of the breakaway roping box.

Reminded of Psalm 71:8: “Don’t turn me out to pasture when there’s work to do.”


030615-franksmug2Frank J. Buchman is a lifelong rancher from Alta Vista, a lifetime newspaper writer, syndicated national ag writer and a radio marketing consultant. He writes a weekly column to share A Cowboy’s Faith.


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