Welcome to our ranch near Canada's west coast in Beautiful British Columbia's West Chilcotin mountain region. Where calling the vet means hollering back at the house to bring your kit, new friendships are formed from the back of a horse and true fun for a five year old is getting a machete for Christmas. Where 'cutting the dinks off' has a totally different meaning than what first comes to mind, Muck Boots are a household name, a hand shake still means something and the coffee is always on.

Saturday, 31 January 2015

Rustling Horses

Between the ranch and the trail riding business, we generally run about 50 head of horses.  This includes them all, our personal ranch horses and the working stock, the semi retired campaigners, the stallion, brood mares and young prospects.  We both raise our own and purchased promising horses.  All the ones we purchase are used on the ranch for at least a year generally, and have to be up to quite a high standard to be deemed fit for packing guests in the mountains.  We often sell horses as well.  Sometimes they just don't get along with the main herd, can't adjust to the country or climate, or have some other trait deemed unsuitable.  If the horse is not going to work out for us, we never have a problem selling them as experienced working style horses are getting harder to come by.  It is wonderfully rewarding to help match horse and rider, and know an amazing partnership is being created.

This is one of our retired champions 'Spud' who is now an amazing confidence builder for a 9 year old.  I'm sure that unconditional love and admiration from a little girl has to be a horses' definition of heaven.   Photo credit Krista G. 
In the late fall, all the horses are brought in for trimming and deworming and kicked back out to 'rustle'.  This means that they forage for their own food, even when it is buried under the snow.  Our swamp grasses grow very tall over the summer (easily 3 feet high) and in the winter, when the ground is frozen, they can access that feed.  The thick grass simply lays over under the snow and the horses paw  it back up.  Believe it or not (and I promise to take a photo to prove it), the majority of the time, the grass will still have lots of 'green' in it.  Of course you could not do this in where the grass is short or eaten down, but we are careful to keep an eye on them and move them (or they move themselves) when the the ground starts getting too rustled off.  I love seeing the herd out like this in the winter.  They look like fuzzy teddy bears with their long winter coats.

  In this photo we are moving the herd from one area to another.  I'm riding Tiffany, leading Lucy and waiting for dad and Eli to be able to convince the rest to follow.  You can see the snowmobiles in the background.

We do keep in the stallion, young and old horses, pregnant mares and anything that doesn't appear to be keeping up.  Which dad will growl means all the 'registered' animals, and he is right.  Well bred does not mean 'tough'.  :)  We check on the herd once a week or so, to make sure they are in a good spot and nothing is losing weight.  (And if so, they are brought in to feed.)  They all come running when they hear the snowmobiles as we always bring them a good bit of grain each.

This is a sweet three year old, hoping for another scratch.  My newest ranch hand "Bree" (Border Collie/Keplie) and a few others horses enjoying the hay bales. 

So far they are all doing well, but with this rain we've had, the snow conditions could force us to have to feed them earlier than planned.  We always  bring them in around the first of March anyway to keep in them in a more confined area (a 160 acre pasture) and feed them there.  Otherwise, they start 'chasing green grass' and that's when they'll lose weight.  Besides, we don't have as much time to monitor them when calving gets busy.  

Cheers for now,



Unknown said...

Awww, its my favourite little horse! What a good picture of him and Bree :)

Bella Johnson said...

that was awesome to read! Thanks for posting!

Terra Hatch said...

Perhaps he will be your new cow pony this year Olivia! Are you ready to give up Bobbie Socks?

Terra Hatch said...

Thank you Bella! I'm just getting into this world of blogging, but have discovered your site as well. Sounds like you are a very busy lady. I love books and look forward to reading some of your work.

Unknown said...

Quite possibly for his sweetness!