We never forget the first horse we got to call our own, even if they belonged to someone else. For me that horse was named Frosty. Frosty came from a ranch in Tribune, Kan. I went with my mom, and my grandparents out there to look at him and will never forget the feeling of getting to ride him for the first time. He was a retired head horse, and his former owner was moving off to college and needing something a little younger and more competitive than the aging blaze face bay gelding. While Frosty wasn’t the horse I had learned to ride on, he was the first that I was able to tell my friends at school that he was mine. The earliest lessons in horsemanship, and animal husbandry were taught to me by this horse. My brother and I used to ride him and another old palomino horse around bareback in the corral. He was the perfect “babysitter.” He would watch a cow and keep me out of wrecks, even though I was most likely trying to get us into one. He was the kind of horse that makes a young cowboy want to grow up in the saddle. I wanted to spend every moment of my free time riding that horse with Grandpa, and most of the time he was OK with that idea as well.
Frosty was responsible for my love of horses. I’ll never forget the first time he cut a cow in the corral without me knowing what I was doing. That feeling of athleticism beneath me was an adrenaline high that I have been chasing ever since. Now if you have ever ridden a good cow pony, you know that feeling that I am talking about. You feel your companion get low on their front end, watch their ears lock onto the animal trying to get past them and feel the power as they explode off their hind legs to get out ahead. If you are one of those who has been cursed with having to use a four-wheeler to work cattle, you sadly don’t know the feeling I’m describing.
There is a reason that the babysitter horse is so important in the development of little cowpokes. See, they are a confidence builder. Put a kid on a horse that doesn’t take care of them, and they will allow fear to take over and won’t enjoy the thrill of commanding a thousand-pound animal. On the other hand, if you choose the right horse, like Frosty, you will give them a sense of pride that is unmatched by any other feeling. Don’t be afraid to take the little ones with you. The best hands are made when they are taught hands on, how to ride, read cattle, sort, and rope when needed. If you take them along, you teach them that hard work is valuable, and a job isn’t done until it is done right.
Frosty is long gone, buried in a grave on a hillside overlooking the ranch back home in Colorado. I’ve ridden a lot of horses since then, and some were far more cow savvy and athletic than he was, but I will always remember him as the one I cut my teeth on. As my boy grows more and more daily, he takes great pride in riding one of my boss’s horses that has become his babysitter. I can only hope that he will share the same love and excitement that I have for horses and what a vital tool they are to our way of life.
That’s all for this time. Remember to take your little cowboys and cowgirls out with you to learn the ropes and take care of your side of the Barbed Wire. Take care and God Bless.
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