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Horsin’ Around

Roger Thompson
Fort Collins, Colo.

Well, it was a good summer spent up at the Laramie Peak Boy Scout Camp.

However, it was the first week or so I wasn’t sure I had made the right choice. Oh, it was a wilderness area for the most part, and that was exactly what I wanted. But my old horse, John, who spent his first four years in stable while running on a race track, was not used to being in the wild.

So naturally, the first morning when I went down to feed him, he was nowhere in sight. Seems he pushed on the panel and vanished into miles and miles of ranch land. I didn’t know where to start looking. But the assistant camp director jumped into her car and went looking. Soon she was back with the report that John was several miles down the road at a pasture fence. So we decided he would stay put, and had breakfast in the dining hall before going after him.

I had just met my campground neighbors, Bob and Karen Brown, the day before when I pulled in and set up. Bob told me that he would use his truck to take me and my saddle down to get my horse. Then the campground director, Bonnie Willey, climbed in to go with us. It had been so long since total strangers had been this helpful, I was blown away. Suddenly, I realized that this was exactly what I had been missing over the years, and was seeking to find when I took the job.

As we drove down the road, I saw John standing on a hill, snorting back in the direction of camp, so I asked Bob to drive us up within about 100 yards of him. As I got out, grabbing the grain bucket and halter, I turned my head in the direction John was looking. What I saw was an antelope standing on a hill, watching John and all the commotion.

John was frozen in his tracks with a fence keeping him from running any further. He just stood there snorting, and was not about to move until he saw what the antelope was going to do. He would take two or three steps toward me and the grain bucket, then back up to his original position and snort. No way was he going to walk down that hill, no matter how much he wanted the grain, and he would not walk up to me.

Now I had seen it all. John had never seen an antelope and because of the wilderness area he found himself in, thought it was something that was going to eat him. The poor horse was just blown away with all the critters found in a wilderness area. So I walked up to him, soothing him as best I could, and put on his halter.

Then I saddled and rode him back to camp to set up my electric fence and corral behind the trailer which also contains my camper. This way, John had the company of Blaze and myself for a few days until the other horses came in.

John spent a number of years in that corral behind the trailer and felt comfortable there. But occasionally, when I’d hear him snort at night, I’d grab a flashlight and go out, look around and talk to him just to let him know we were there. But I could tell he was really glad when summer was over and he could get back to his own pasture and barn.

More on the saga of Boy Scout Camp later.

Roger Thompson is a CHA certified instructor of advanced Western horsemanship and beginning English riding.


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