Friday, November 21, 2014

Panhandle Ranch Horses

To me, horses fit a really unique niche between agriculture and an expensive hobby. Lots of people are "horse people" who know nothing of agriculture but love to spend money on their horses to go to shows, occasionally trail ride, or even let them stand in the pasture. Confession time: I'm one of those people, besides the "know nothing of agriculture" part. I love horses! I always have. As a kid, my walls were covered from floor to ceiling with Horse Illustrated posters. I'm fairly certain I had every horse book known to man, and I could recite horse breeds from all over the world. To say I was horse crazy might be the biggest understatement of the year; I was obsessed and still am (though slightly less crazed) today.

Another confession: I ride a lot, but rarely with a purpose besides my own enjoyment. While my two horses get to graze in a pasture all day most every day (like most horses in the U.S.), a few horses are still out there earning themselves and their riders a living. The horse is still a valued vehicle and tool in many parts of the Texas Panhandle. No, we don't ride our horses to town. The Panhandle is a little more civilized than that. However, the working cowboy still exists in our part of the world, and everybody knows that cowboys need good horses. How else is he supposed to ride off into the sunset?

While horses have moved increasingly into a recreational category in most parts of the country, the "ranch horse" is the preferred method of transportation on many working ranches and feedlots across the Texas Panhandle. With the rough terrain, horses can still get to many places a 4-wheeler can't, and I'm sure you could rope an angry momma cow from a 4-wheeler, but that 4-wheeler can't "work the rope" like a good ranch horse can. A good ranch horse is quick on their feet, can read a cow to tell where it is going, and can turn around a whole lot faster than a 4-wheeler. Just ask me. I've been left standing a few times when my horse has turned and I haven't. It is quite cartoon-like.

Horses are handy when it comes to moving cows from pasture to pasture or pen to pen. Moving cows on horseback is generally less stressful for the cows, especially if they are used to seeing horses. Plus it just so happens that horses and cows tend to travel about the same speed when they are walking. Can your 4-wheeler do that automatically? Didn't think so.

All of those above reasons are great ones, but me being a bit romantic about the Cowboy Way of Life, I think the best thing about using horses is seeing beautiful country on horseback while helping to feed a hungry world. In all seriousness though, it really doesn't get any better than that. I'm just thankful my husband's family lets me play "cowboy" when we move cows. As much as I love my crops, horses have and always will hold a special passion/obsession for me.

My favorite girl, Charley, and I taking in the Panhandle scenery. Thanks, Jamie, for the photo!
This is the 19th day (posted on the 21st day of November) of my 30 Days of Texas Panhandle Agriculture series. To read more, please visit this introduction postIf you have questions or ideas you'd like me to write about concerning Texas Panhandle agriculture, I'd love to hear from you!

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