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6 minutes reading time (1215 words)

Making Memories

MuriettaV6

Walking through the green spring grass, Murietta and I silently shared our memories of Sheila. The day was warm and still. I reached down and petted his neck and he dropped his head and blew out a big sigh. We were like two old friends reminiscing over coffee about a loved one they'd lost and about the travels we'd had with her, to Texas, Montana, Idaho and more. Fun memories. Riding him again was very sentimental.

I've lived in Idaho now for thirteen years. I never get enough time to visit my sister as much as I'd like, but here we were, with Murietta, Roy, and Arizona Mac V in the trailer, pulling into horse camp at the V6 Ranch for a five day ride. Like having a four night sleep over. We both were tickled pink. We got there just in time to get the horses settled, unpack our things into the bunk house, freshen up and soon it was time for dinner.

Arizona Mac V had been outside once, the week before, at the Biddle Ranch, with only Roy for company, for about an hour. I like to play fair with a colt, so the first couple days on the ride, I ponied him next to Roy or Murietta, to get him familiar with groups of strange horses. Also at the V6, there is plenty of opportunity to get your horse used to cattle. Arizona had been so relaxed about just about everything else, I figured I'd give it a go.

I saddled him and rode down to the arena, where they were learning about working cattle. He'd never seen cattle up close before so we spent a little time outside of the arena looking in. He was okay with that, so we went in and rode up to the line of horses.

"Are you going in?" Kathleen said to me.

"No, I think we'll just watch."

Then John Varian looked over at me. He did that little 'come here' finger thing, which was okay, since Arizona was pretty relaxed and because that was just what I wanted, to expose Arizona to whatever I could as he seemed ready for it, and he was in a good frame of mind. Following John on his horse, we rode into the little group of cattle, teaching Arizona that he could influence the cattle to move away from him and that it was no big deal, they were just cattle (vegetarians), no big deal. There were cattle on either side of him, in front and in back. Not only that, but there were more cattle in the next pen. Even though they were really quiet steers, that's still a lot for a kid to think about. He was very alert and for a while I could feel his heart beat, but he never lost his mind. A little bit of stimulation goes a long way for a baby, so that was it for the day. We rode around camp a little bit and I could feel that he was enjoying it all as much as I was.

The next day, I figured Arizona was ready for something a little more challenging. The competition was the next day, so the energy level in the arena had raised considerably. There was very much hollering and laughing and charging around, so we rode down to the arena. I knew that inside the arena would be too much energy, so instead, we stayed outside of the arena, watching, standing still or if he wanted to move around a little that was okay, we went to work and then came back. Arizona was tight, but not afraid. I kept petting him, and worked at keeping him relaxed. A guest came toward us on a nice quiet horse. "Hello." I said, with a smile. This would be perfect, I thought, to go roam about with her.

"I'm trying out a new saddle, just thought I'd go ride around." She said to me.
"Mind if I join you?"

She agreed, so we stepped in beside her, walking toward the road. Arizona thought this was just dandy. He was very content. As we turned left at the road, another guest appeared, trotting toward us on a paint horse with long flowing mane and tail. Arizona had never seen anything like this animal that was coming at him, multi-colored, with hair to his knees. (no, I'm not exaggerating). We followed them around for a little bit but the paint horse was so distracting for Arizona that I decided we'd be better to just go look at the cattle some more.

At the arena, there were two round pens with horses and riders sorting and pushing the cattle. In the middle was an alleyway with cattle that would be traded out so they were not over worked. Arizona's little ears flicked from one pen to the other. Just as he seemed to be okay with all of it, one of the dogs did what cattle dogs do sometimes, and zipped under the boards, nipping at the cattle in the pen on our right. All ten cows leapt in the air en masse and snorted at the dog. Well, this was over the top for Arizona. Scared the pants off him. After a spin to the left, we walked by the cattle some more, then we walked out to the open spaces. I was trying to get his head back to a happy place but there was so much to figure out, jumping cattle, trotting kaleidoscope horses, dogs down there by the arena that he couldn't get it right in his head, so we went back up through camp, where it was quiet and we'd ridden earlier, moseying around the pens and campers and then going up the road a bit and up and down a few hills and across the creek. It didn't take long before he was completely relaxed and happy and had forgotten all about the scary things. This was his third time outside under saddle and that was quite a bit of excitement down at the arena.

"Good boy." I tried to sound like Jaime.

That last night in camp, my sister and I stayed up late, talking in the dark, filling in the missing parts of our lives that you just can't color in when you don't see each other enough, laughing at silly things, just loving being together.

As we loaded up the wheelbarrow, the water buckets, tied up the hay, Arizona looked at me with those big liquid dark eyes before stepping into the trailer. I know he enjoyed the challenge of this little trip, because nothing bad happened, he advanced beyond his fear, and he got a glimpse that it's a big world out there and it could all be interesting, safe, and fun.

I picked up Murietta's lead rope and he regally stepped in behind Arizona. I tied the knot and stroked his beautiful neck. "Thank you Murietta." I said to him. We looked at each other and I swear we both nodded our heads just a tiny bit, agreeing that we both loved our Sheila and miss her every day. Putting my arm over his back I rested my cheek on his withers, gave him a pat, closed the door and headed for home.

So Much to Learn
Back in the Saddle Again

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Wednesday, 15 August 2018
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