Tag Archives: cowboys

Winnemucca Ranch Hand Rodeo

The best stories are always unprintable, but here’s one slightly censored version of last weekend’s Winnemucca Ranch Hand Rodeo.

I drove over on Saturday morning with Tilly and her boyfriend Jason.  Tilly was in the rodeo, so we left Elko at 5:15 AM in the morning.  It seems Rule #1 of Winnemucca is “All road trips must begin before 5:30 AM.”  Whether people drove from neighboring states, the Owyhee Reservation or ten miles south of the fairgrounds, everybody left in the dark.  It was good conditioning for a weekend of sleep deprivation. 

First stop for everyone seemed to be the Maverik gas station, where rodeo attendees bought diesel, coffee, and potato chips.  Once at the fairgrounds, the contestants loped their horses around and we spectators sipped bloody marys with plenty of pickled vegetables and ate chili fries. 

First point of interest: the horses from the rez.  I gotta say, I like those long, tall, rangy-lookin’ horses!  Such an improvement from riding Texas cutters, where you can actually help your horse travel by setting your feet on and pushing off the taller rocks. 

Horseflesh aside, I didn’t thoroughly enjoy the trade show.  Looking at all the hand-engraved silver, tooled saddles, Millie Hunt-Porter books, and jewlery with no spending money was kind of masochistic.  I took two-year-old Maggie walking around with me, and she would stop, point, and let out a loud gasp of delight every time she saw a dog or another child her size.  Good reminder that the best things in life still are free.

After the rodeo and during the horse sale, I made a great discovery.  If you buy coffee at the concession stand and carry it to the bar, they will pour a shot of kahlua in it for a small fee.  Yahtzee!  Hot toddies saved my cold-blooded self Saturday night. 

After the horse sale, we migrated to Winners Casino.  The Jeff Palmer Band did justice to some rockin’ dance tunes, somebody drank the bar out of Jack, and we got free popcorn.  Most unique line from a guy I’ve heard so far: “It’s 2:13.  Wanna go sleep in a bathtub?”  I think that was his way of saying “It’s getting late and I’m really drunk.  Can I crash in your room?” 

By the time I called it a night (or early morning, whatever), I had two outside horses to ride this summer, a queasy stomach from breathing several decades’ worth of secondhand smoke plus the freshly produced stuff, and a lap dance.  Success all around!

The theme for Sunday’s rodeo was “My eyes are a shade of red no eye drops can whiten.  I’m really craving French fries, but the thought of food makes me ill.  I barely have the strength to crack a beer and sit on my horse/sit in the stands.  At least it’s Sunday and we can go back to work and catch a break tomorrow.” 

I met a staff writer from the Nevada Rancher, got another story assignment, and met a neat braider/cowboy to add to my collection of People to Pester for Stories For My Cowboy Book.  Add a little work-related activity to a road trip and call the whole weekend a business expense.  I love being self-unemployed.

Like I said, the best stories aren’t printable.  As such, I highly recommend going to Winnemucca next March to acquire some unedited stories of your own.  If you’re there, look me up.  I’ll be the girl drinking cofee (wink wink) and laughing way too loudly.

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A Good Day To Cowboy

If I weren’t me, I would be jealous. 

I spent today day working at the Holland Ranch with Ty VN.  On the drive from Reed Station to the Holland headquarters, Ty and I visited about the Lord and what He’s been doing in our lives.  Ty and his family are settling into their new life at the Roseberry house, and they sold the rest of their meadow hay. 

To start the morning off, I rode my favorite caballo, the Van Normans’ home-raised 4-year-old roan stud, “JP Colonel’s Pistol.”  That horse is a day at the beach with a margarita in each hand.  He’s cowy, built to hold a Weatherly saddle tree, kind, and good-lookin’ to boot. 

The ground completely thawed today, so no equine ice skating!  Yay!  I ditched my wild rag before noon and wore my cowboy boots all day.  I did wear my super-duper Cabela’s Wind Sheer-lined 100% wool winter-can-go-fly-a-kite sweater, though, so that was partly why I was so warm.  I cheated 🙂

For the afternoon’s activities, I rode Ty’s 11-year-old bridle horse, “Rambler.”  He’s built like a pocket knife blade and plenty leggy, so a very comfy ride.  Sure was easy to smile trottin’ through a meadow ridin’ that particular sorrel. 

So the horseflesh was superb, but the cattle….oy, why must they be all black?  The first calf heifers stood in the gate.  Sniffed the gate post.  Turned around and bawled as they ran toward the icy river. 

Really?  Really.

Then someone shows up driving a tractor towing a flatbed trailer with remnants from the morning’s feeding, thinking he’d be helpful and chum the heifers down the lane ahead of us.  All he did was jam the whole bunch behind a bridge. 

God invented farmers so cowboys could practice their patience skills. 

But, I won’t let that ruin my overall evaluation of the day: divine.  Good horses, good company, good thaw, good Basque-o cookin’ at the end of the day….can’t beat that with a stick!

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Wintertime Smiles

I drove out to Reed Station and picked up my saddle and gear, bedroll, hats, and a few other odds and ends I left at Van Normans’ when I moved out in a snowstorm over a month ago.  I washed the bedding and put it back together, hung my bridles in the tack room here at Allie’s, and stashed my hats in my room. 

Being reunited with my gear reminds me of my real reason for living in town this winter.  My intention was to work on my writing career, establish contacts with editors so I can continue to write for pay after I go to cowboying in the spring.  I don’t want to get sidetracked by a full-time regular “career” and work in a bank or grocery store.  I’ve heard of people who want to stability, living in one location several consecutive years and working at the same job.  I can’t relate.

I’m excited to tie some knots with rawhide scraps Don gave me onto the old leather split reins I use to tie my bed together.  That’s the kind of non-modern girl I am, haha!  I have plans to acquire some sewing machine cord and make a pair of useful, if somewhat crude, reins for a bit I’m having repaired.  Pretty soon I’ll have TWO bridles….watch out!

My snaffle bit outfits need a little work, too.  One has a broken piece on the headstall (still useable) and one has a place on the split rein where a wood rat had himself a little snack.  My boots and saddles all need oiling….winter projects by the wood stove that make a person daydream plans for spring! 

I signed up as a ranching correspondent for the Elko Daily Free Press, so that will be fun.  I interviewed a couple great gals, Dylan Sponseller and Liz Brannan, yesterday for an upcoming article in the Nevada Rancher on women cowboys.  I learned a bunch, shared some laughs, and am really looking forward to writing this piece!

Today I am off to substitute teach middle school math.  More about the subbing biz later – boy, do I have some war stories!  But it’s always fun.

Enjoy the day, thanks for reading 🙂


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Cold Weather Country

You know what is a really good feeling?  The four-wheel-drive engaging on my pickup and taking aholt of the snow.  Stuck and awaiting rescue?  Not this girl!

I went to college in Bozeman, Montana for my junior year, and the campus is built on a hill.  The whole thing froze over in November and didn’t completely thaw until June (so I heard – I was gone by then).  In Montana, they say they have nine months of winter and three months of company.  Partial thaws during the winter left uneven ice-and-snow ruts several inches thick.  You couldn’t see the lines in the parking lot; everyone just roughly lined up parallel to the first vehicle in the mornings.

Some girls insisted on wearing heels, and they slipped and fell on the ice on a daily basis.  I never laughed – not until I was around the corner, anyway.  I wasn’t afraid to wear my Schnee’s snow packs to class, and I bought a huge down ski coat, even though I don’t ski.  I just felt stylish wearing a powder skirt.

The school maintained heated ponds, so trudging beside me through the fresh powder on my way to Managerial Accounting would be a duck.  My first day on campus, I drove past the black and yellow “Duck Crossing” sign and saw the mangled, bloody carcass of a duck lying at the base of the wooden post.  Poor things couldn’t catch a break; they were either roadkill or walking through the snow thinking “What the hell?” 

I’m back in cold weather country here in Northern Nevada.  During a November snowstorm, three of us rode through 1,800 weaner calves.  I faced the meadows, shut my eyes, and declared them all healthy.  Wishful thinking!  As we rode through the wind and wet snow, Ty mentioned that I’d been unusually quiet that morning. 

“I have nothing positive to add to the conversation,”  replied, returning all my energy to generating body heat. 

The cold really isn’t so bad, as long as a person is dressed for it and doesn’t value their extremeties.  That’s easy to say from my seat on the couch beside the wood stove.  For all you cowboys out there feeding cows and doctoring stuff on the big frozen slip ‘n slide we call “the ground,” you have my admiration.  You’re crazy, but I like it 🙂

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