Issues of concern to people who live in the west: property rights, water rights, endangered species, livestock grazing, energy production, wilderness and western agriculture. Plus a few items on western history, western literature and the sport of rodeo... Frank DuBois served as the NM Secretary of Agriculture from 1988 to 2003. DuBois is a former legislative assistant to a U.S. Senator, a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Interior, and is the founder of the DuBois Rodeo Scholarship.
Monday, December 23, 2013
Cowgirl Sass & Savvy
By Julie Carter
My dad hated ponies, Shetland or otherwise. His heartfelt belief
was that if you wanted to ride then do so on a real horse.
No one seems to really know what possessed him to bring home a
Shetland pony for his kids that Christmas. We owned plenty of
In some sort of horse trade, he ended up with this short, barrel
round, pitch black, Shetland. He was trading off a perfectly good bay
two-year-old real horse for some cash. Somewhere in the deal, this small
want-to-be horse got hauled back to the ranch.
He named him Mickey Mouse. Not for his color and not for the Disney
character but because this midget was a Mickey Mouse version of what a
horse was supposed to be.
Mickey repeatedly proved my dad's theory on why not to own a
Shetland pony and it began on that very Christmas morning.
At daylight, Dad went to the barn to do chores. He had the pony
hidden in the barn but Mickey needed water. We had no water hydrants or
tanks in the barn or the corrals. Water was the creek that ran along the
bottom of the small trap below the corrals.
So Dad bridled the wee equine and jumped on him bareback to ride
him to water. At some point during the process Mickey reared up, sliding
Dad off his back. He landed hard on his back pockets on the hard frozen
ground, breaking his tailbone -- a painful reminder of his dislike for
Mickey Mouse, in every way, defined spoiled, barn soured, obnoxious
and aggravating. If you rode him anywhere, he spent the entire time
figuring out a way to unload you and make a run for the barn. His only
redeeming quality was he'd run away with his head high and to the side so
as not to break the dragging bridle reins.
While not our preference for a saddle horse, we did use him in
other ways. He made a comical if not functional pack horse for our
"kid" pack trips. We would cinch a pack saddle to him and tie
to that all our treasures for the day that had been wrapped in an old
green army blanket.
The mound on his back would be so huge it usually took a kid
walking on each side holding the pack to keep it on the top side. Off we
would go, lumbering up the road a mile or so to create our pretend world
of cowboys and Indians and hunting camps.
In the height of his career, Mickey became the source of total
indignation for my brother. Summer was irrigation time for all those hay
meadows and Mickey was the assigned mode of transportation for the
Shovel in hand, he would slip up on the pony bareback and head off
for a day of directing water over hay fields. Dad told him he couldn't
waste a good saddle horse on that job.
In the winter Mickey pulled a toboggan in the meadow for us -- but
only one direction. We'd jimmy-rig some sort of harness for him and hook
it to the sled. Then we led him to the top end of a long meadow, turned
him towards home and let him go. Dependably, he would run as hard as he
could back to the barn. It was always a wild ride.
None of us kids have ever forgotten Mickey Mouse. And none of us
have owned a pony since then. Some lessons tend to "take"
better than others.