Posts Tagged ‘riding’

Corral panels, eagles and mules

November 24, 2008

How to straighten out corral panels

fixedpanelMy friend and favorite old rancher guy, the late Virgil Lawson, once told me how to straighten out a bent steel corral panel — by driving a truck over it. I’ve been eying a bent panel since a horse snafu over at the ranch earlier this summer. So today I decided to give it a try. I set the panel down in the driveway and lined my truck tire over the most-bent round tube. Well, it straightened out the panel, all right, but it also flattened the round tubing and left a herringbone tire-tread pattern in the metal! I thought I heard Virgil’s hearty laugh from somewhere up in the sky, but the truck certainly took the bow out of that panel.

The eagles have to eat too

My friend and neighbor Kevin called this morning and told me about a dead buck deer near here that had a golden eagle feeding on it. I drove over to take a look and found local Colorado Division of Wildlife District Wildlife Manager Justin Krall conducting an autopsy of sorts. He wanted to rule out the possibility the deer had been shot. With the hide peeled back, no bullet holes were revealed, though there was one small puncture in the skin. Oddly there appeared to be some slits in the carcass that were not accompanied by matching cuts to the hide. From what he saw, Justin thought the deer died from internal injuries, either from fighting with other bucks, or from a run-in with an automobile, though there was no evidence of skid marks or vehicle debris on the road nearby. He took the head to test for chronic wasting disease. He said that the DOW has tested about 300 deer from this area in the last year and found no cases of CWD.eaglesmall

Later I drove back to the scene and found the eagle had returned along with a flock of magpies. The big bird lifted off the carcass and landed in a nearby tree where I was able to get an up-close photograph.

Man dies in fall from mule

Condolences go out to the family and friends of a 65-year-old Custer County man who died last week after he was reportedly thrown from a mule while riding near his home in the Antelope Valley area southeast of town.

Apparently Jerry Gregory’s neck was broken in the fall, and while it’s been labeled a freak accident, it is a reminder of the dangerous nature of equine activities.

A mule is a hybrid between a horse and a donkey, and can be quicker and more powerful than either of its parents.

I’ve had horses try to unseat me, but it’s been the donkeys that have put me on the ground. Twice I was dumped when donkeys spooked. Another time I was riding a slight downhill at a trot when my burro Ace stumbled and literally went down on his nose, pitched me over his shoulder and nearly rolled over on top of me. I landed with my forehead and shoulder hitting simultaneously and scrambled mightily to get out of the way.

Despite these wrecks, I still prefer riding a donkey because they rarely buck and are not inclined to run away for great distances like a horse. Generally, if spooked, a donkey will run a short distance, then turn back to see what scared them. Usually you can ride it out until they stop.

Saddling donkeys for riding

October 23, 2008
Redbo in a Steve Edwards Trail Rider Light saddle. Note the breast collar goes with the saddle but the britchin' is not Steve's design.

Redbo in a Steve Edwards saddle.

A favorite old rancher once told me: “It’s better to get where you’re going on a slow horse than to go to the hospital on a fast horse.” Frankly, I won’t ride anything with ears that short.

When I first started riding my donkeys it was purely bareback. Back then I didn’t really ride often enough to make buying a saddle worthwhile. Over time, however, I became more interested in my donks as riding animals.

Thus began my great saddle search. First was an old McClellan infantry saddle that I found in the corner of a local saddle shop and had jury-rigged to make it easier and quicker to saddle my animals. In many ways, this was one of the best choices I made. It was light and fit the donkeys well, but it was hard as a rock and not very comfortable for me.

I went through a series of other saddles, all of which I bought, rode for a while, and then sold when I found them to be less than ideal. These included an Australian saddle, a treeless saddle, and a synthetic Western horse saddle.

My most recent saddle has been a Steve Edwards Trail Rider Lite, and this saddle has by far been the best. Steve designed this saddle around mule bars that he also developed. I like the way it fits my animals and also the way it fits me. It’s light at just 18 pounds. The breast collar rigging is unique and does not fall down around the donkey’s chest. I’m sure Steve’s Britchin’ is nice too but I’m still saving my pennies to completely outfit my rig.