Real Christmas

It’s been a very different year for me.  Instead of constant travel and interacting with lots of humans and animals in a manufactured world, I have been spending my time with my animals and pretty much by myself put on the land in my work.

While I miss all the interaction with the great people and the livestock business, I have gotten to really appreciate the taking care of the land, restoring a great ranch, and getting to work with animals for more than a day at a time.

As I rode up mission creek, then trotted up a big grassy draw, and moved my horse herd up to some better grass, and they went out of site over the top and when I topped out they were running and bucking down the steep hill and I got this view.

As I sat looking over this wonderful sight, and thought of what this was.
  Since Jesus birth or Christmas,  this land and animals has pretty much stayed the same.  I’ll bet mission creek was running and there were some deer or some sort of wildlife.  We’ve added domestic animals but they have been here for a long time.  It’s a beautiful thing.

As I look down on Livingston,  it’s a great town, but hasn’t been there to long compared to everything else.  Down there there is lots of Christmas going on, like people buying gifts and getting ready for the big celebration for Christmas.

I hope you get some time to really appreciate what it’s all about to you.  This modern world has a way of drawing us in to what seems so important, and as they say “movement creates movement” and if you aren’t careful you’ll be having a run away.

Good health is the most important thing in our life.  Tammy and I have always believed that, and now we know it.

I have always wanted to be around and take care of animals at Christmas.  I think you will get great satisfaction out of a little special care of your animals at this time of year.  If you think about it it’s the one thing we have in common with the folks that were around when Jesus was born.

They didn’t have laptops and cell phones or cars, but they had animals and land, and I feel those that understand how to care for them will always be closer to God.

Merry Christmas


Got one response from my last scoop loop on try and one discussion with my friend Bill Dale. It’s interesting what creates discussion. What I feel is very important is not necessarily important to others. That’s the great thing about working with animals, it’s a very personal thing.

Marie’s question was how to put life back in a horse properly. I feel it’s very important how you go about it, and it is really how you keep life in any horse, you just have to really focus on it with one that the life has been taken out of.

You can create life with lots of pressure, but that can create fear or bad habits or make it even harder to get life because they become dull to more pressure.

I really think it comes down to how we ride, and the amount of life and try we have in ourselves. It seems like when you are riding with a crew, the boss is always out in front. He has purpose and focus on where he (or she) is headed and that life comes up through the horse being ridden.

I have noticed when I am riding a horse he has lots of life and I am at the front of the bunch riding out if I’m in charge. Someone else can switch horses with me another day and I’m in the lead again. That suggests to me it’s our riding that creates life.

The first thing is how we set a horse. I ride pretty long stirrups to get more life out of my horse. With my feet under me I feel like I actually draw the horse forward with my seat. When you have short stirrups you sit heavy on a horses hind quarters and he has to pick you and his back up. By getting close to the withers with your saddle fit and rigging position and rolling up on your thighs you are much more athletic and so is your horse.

When you put the first ride on a sensitive colt all you have to do is roll your seat bones forward and many times it will cause them to go upward in a transition and to slow em down just get heavy by rolling your seat bones back. This is how you create life without using your legs to much. Save them for more important things. The life in your body should create the life in there body.

The other thing I think is important is understanding the mind and how it works. It’s easy to create forward movement by alternating sides of the body which alternates sides of brain. When you apply pressure on both sides at once it draws the mind to the pressure to figure out which respond too. With one side then the other the mind goes forward away from the pressure with a better attitude and a quicker decision. The release is more pure as it is the only pressure the mind is dealing with. I really feel this is important to try and understand.

To help understand let’s set this up in our mind. You are riding a horse in a fifty foot round pen. You are trying to go from a trot to a lope. If you are traveling to the right the horses body is shaped to go with the bend of the round pen and his mind is on that which is everything shaping up to go right. If you ask on the left side you are taking the mind off the forward to the right and putting the mind on the left which makes a smooth transition very difficult and requiring more pressure and more decision for the horse, so we create confusion, fear and getting used to and accepting more pressure.

If we simply move our hand on the right hip of the horse or ask with a little tap of something on the right side of the horse when his body is shaped up to make the transition, it usually happens very smoothly. If you ask on the left it often creates a different reaction and the transaction is not as pure and smooth.

Try it out. Understand how to figure out what side of the horse to ask when you are not in the round pen. If you are out in a pasture or pen try asking on the side your horse is thinking on.

The next thing I have learned to be careful with. I have made a lot of people upset and angry with my thoughts on “overbending “ a horse. Like I said In the last scoop loop, lots of people can’t ride a lot of try and life in their horse so they need to take it out, and I feel bending the horse to much or at the wrong time will take the life out quicker than anything. If that’s what you need to survive and get your goals with your horsemanship than you should do it. The thing we are talking about here is putting or keeping life in the horse, and if you bend them at the wrong time or to much you will not get that done.

I have started to find a lot of value in bending my horses with there feet still. You don’t unbalance the horse on his feet or take the life out, but still get the benefit of the softening and responsiveness bending gives you.

So I get a real dull horse that is healthy and sound. When I get on I am not focused on anything else except life in the feet. I move forward in my seat, roll off the “W’s” on my wranglers and sort of bicycle my legs slightly. If the horse goes I’ll try to ride in time and draw those hind feet forward under me. You can lengthen the stride by six inches just by the way you ride. If he doesn’t respond, depending where his mind is(which side he is focusing on) I will take my machate lead on the left or the tail my rope on the right and spank him down the leg with the pressure or just a little more than I think he needs to create life, and when I get it I make sure I am ahead of it so we match up an I get with him to encourage more.

If you are behind the action you will have defeated the purpose and make it even more difficult the next time.

I hope this helps get you to thinking about life. It’s what we admire in a horse, but also fear. You have got to be honest with yourself to know how much life you can handle.

The thing that is so important in all animal handling is controlling and creating the proper amount of life in the animal. My goal is having a horse that responds with the right life when I ask for it, but being able to calm that life down and relax when I want. It is really important for the work I want to do with my horse not to be late with the go, and not to be late with the whoa!

If I’m roping a step forward or a step back can set up a shot that means catching or not, and a half second can make a big difference. If I’m pulling and animal in a feedlot and my horse is late with moving a foot forward or back, it can create a bunch of wight loss in the pen chasing cattle around.

It’s important stuff to understand, and I think that the ranch based horsemanship pioneers (Ray Hunt and the Dorrance’s) were trying to get this across to us.

The farther we get away from real livestock jobs with our horses the less we have focused on it.

This is why I keep studying this type of horsemanship as it fits what I want to do. I can learn lots from watching the competition horse world, and am entertained by the clinicians on RFD tv, but unless I change it to fit me and my job, it might be creating more problems than solutions.

Wife Tammy and I were riding and doing a few jobs the other day. I was riding a young horse that Daughter Mesa gave me. I give Tammy a bad time for always taking pictures and not riding, but I’m sure glad she did as she got some pictures that really help explain what I’m trying to say

This photo shows lots of forward. I’m sitting so I’m not hindering my horses hind legs coming forward and he and I as well as my dog Taco are all focused on forward movement.

Moving a herd of horses is a great way to really get a horse moving forward. I love jingling horses on a young horse. If you want to feel what strait and lively feels like try it!

Here my horses attention (and Taco and Possum) is on something else. I like to draw the attention back to me with my reins, set the body up to ask what ever front foot I want to leave and then ask with my body.

My colt (I call him “Cord” as he came from Cord McCoy) is focused on the draft horse coming up behind him on the left. You can see I am looking at the horses to the right and want to go to them. I need to change my horses mind to where I want to go before I ask.(remember the round pen)

Here we are moving on and everyone is strait with body’s and mind and it’s “on to

the next one”. Pow pow

Here I got lucky. I was petting and praising Silver for not going after a bunch of deer, and Possum came up and licked my horse on the nose. That could have created more life than I was ready to ride in that position.

This is exactly how I want my horse when I quit riding. I sent my dogs to get the cattle and Cord just stood there relaxed, but square on all four feet In case we need to move. The cattle learn that they can relax with me and my relaxed horse and the dogs should take the pressure off the cattle. Should is the key word with dogs that really want to work and have lots of try.

Even on the ground you should be thinking about the life in your horse. Prepare his feet and ask the one you want to move first to go through the open gate.

Here’s a picture of the picture taker. We had a good day. We had gone for doctors appointment and blood work in the morning and her numbers were all back to normal. The doctor declared her in remission! You can’t take the try out of her.

Not a bad place to enjoy an afternoon after a great morning. Good horses, dogs, companions and maybe the prettiest place on earth. A great day to celebrate try!


Just finished watching the Professional Bull Riders (PBR) world finals. It was so good. Bull riding is using athletic ability with the mind to overcome the speed and power of a bull that can hurt or kill you intentionally or unintentionally.

To be world class you must be in shape, healthy and overcome the fear of death or injury. To be a world champion you need all of that plus try. Lots of it. Jess Lockwood is the champ, beating two guys with lots of try José Víetor Leme and Chase Outlaw.

The top 35 bull riders are all in shape and very athletic. There are no old out of shape guys. Age starts to factor in around 30 due to injury’s and loss of athletic ability. I am not sure if we will ever see a woman in the top 35 in the PBR.

I think a lot about try. I admire try in humans and animals. It’s hard to respect someone without much try, and for me It’s important to preserve the try or create the right amount of try in the living things I am around.

Looking at the horse world, my style of horsemanship doesn’t fit most riders today. I was raised in an environment where you rode. We rode a lot and a lot of different horses. I never new much about training so I just rode what I had and rode the try.

When I started riding bucking horses and bulls I really learned to respect the try in an animal. To have an animal give it’s all to try to throw you off gives you a real respect for the spirit in a horse or bull.

My Uncle Wilson was a real good rodeo cowboy. He rode all three rough stock events, bull dogged and could fight bulls as good as anyone. He had more try than anyone I have known. He was such a good influence when I was with him when I was learning. He even had “try” stamped on the swells of his bronc saddle.

I was very fortunate to get to try to gather two different bunches of farrow wild horses quite a few years ago. I admired the try and spirit and smarts of those horses. I also learned to appreciate the try in my riding horses to get me where I needed to be when I needed to be there.

I had a guy named Alfred Rice that worked for me when I was doing lots of horse clinics. He saw all the horses I rode and he pointed out to me one day that every horse I owned would try to buck you off if things went wrong. I thought about it and most of the horses I had were something no one else wanted to ride, and I admired that life and try, and I could handle it if they did buck.

Having the ability and the try to ride a horse when it gets athletic allows you to keep your horse athletic. If you don’t have that ability you either better not get on, or you better take the try out of the horse.

If you were upset above about my statement of no women in the PBR, I thought I would let it fester a bit and then explain. Animals don’t discriminate. They don’t care if you are man or woman, black or white, fat or skinny, they are going to do what they do and if you can’t ride it you better stay off. That’s just fact.

The ironic thing is if you can’t ride a horse through some tough stuff you will never learn how to keep him from that spot, so you must take lots of the try out of him to survive. That’s just the way it is.

We breed horses for athletic ability and looks. We feed horses for athletic ability. We sell horses for their athletic ability. Then we try to figure out how to ride all this athletic ability and try that’s under us. We have to control the try.

When I got exposed to the “horse fair” world I was in shock and awe. The things the “experts “ were selling and things the people were buying seemed crazy to me. If you had lots of carisma and salesmanship and you made people feel like you had the answer to their problems, you could tell them and sell them anything. It reminded me of TV preachers.

I tried to stay true to keeping the try in the horse yet keep people safe and having fun. I never sold one piece of equipment and never had a booth to try to sell something to someone.

To be honest I just didn’t fit. The horse clinician today is about taking enough try out of the horse to get inexperienced and/or non athletic people safe and having fun. Some do it very well and are really helping people and horses to get along alright.

When a horse displays the most athletic ability and try they are strait in the spine. They can run the fastest and buck the hardest when they are strait, so if a horse wants to buck or run off and you can’t ride, you better get the spine bent. When you bend the horse you control the try. It’s the only chance you have if you are riding the physical part of the horse.

The trouble is so many people take the life and try out of the horse by overdoing the bending. Then the wonderful animal under them has come down to their level instead of the human rising up to the animals level.

What I have always thought was best is controlling the mind. If I can keep the athletic try in there but control the mind of the horse that would be best. If It doesn’t work I feel like I can ride the horse through it because of my athletic ability to ride a horse, just like the bull riders have the athletic ability to ride a bull. If you don’t have that ability it doesn’t work for you, so you better try something else.

My horse Jaxson has lots of try. I have gotten his mind under control (most of the time) without taking the life out of him. He is a pain to ride with other people as he walks with so much life. I have noticed the horses I ride walk lots faster than most folks horses. I ride them with lots of life so they have lots of life. Having lots of try in a horse makes riding more challenging by keeping the life in and also controlling it. Not everyone wants to ride that way. A horse with lots of try is lots of work, but to me it’s worth it.

When I ride some of the dude horses or horses in a feedlot it takes lots of effort to get them and keep them going. I would much rather hold one back leaving the barn in the morning than kick one all day!

Try comes in lots of different ways. I was mentioning the try of bull riders. Well I have someone in my life that has more try than you can imagine. When wife Tammy was diagnosed with cancer, we were just like those folks at the horse fairs I used to see.

We had no idea what we were supposed to do to get this bronc rode. I’ll guarantee there was no quit or loss of try. When the doctors tried to sell her on the latest gimmick to slow it down a bit, just like the magic halter and stick at the horse fair, she got to the real horsemanship to ride this pony, and took a deep seat and a tight rein and is on one heck of a bronc ride.

I’ve seen her go through about as much as you could and never loosing her try.

She’s had to make decisions and listen to doctors tell her things, and she never loses her try and proves them wrong. She is getting stronger every day because of her try.

Just like Jaxson, sometimes all Tammy’s try has been a challenge, but what a great thing it is when you need it.

Try is so important. Try to keep it in what is important to you.


Wife Tammy is finished at “Home Ranch” and has spent a couple days in our new home, an old time log ranch house right on Mission Creek.  When you do the dishes you look right out at the fish swimming by.  I really like it and I think Tammy does too.

We had a great supper tonight.  Chuck roast and spuds and carrots all mixed in.  She cooked some soup bones all last night and then used the broth with wine and garlic and I don’t know what.  All I know is that it was real good eating.  Seemed like the kind of meal you should eat in this western ranch home.

The meal started four years ago last spring.  A bucking bull cow calved and the calf had a crooked front foot.  Son Rial put a splint on it and wouldn’t let his mother put him down.  I was gone and didn’t see it but I guess is was pretty crooked. Well he got along and did well.  We were bucking young bulls and they bucked him and he really fired.  Mesa and Tammy (the bucking bull experts around here) decided to take him to The PBR finals and enter him in a futurity.  He must not of liked the big city lights because he ran off and didn’t buck a lic.

He came home and was kind of a pet.  He was real friendly and liked to be scratched.  He got fat and always had good feed.  His foot was getting worse turning out (we called him “Crook”).  He was getting big and I was worried about him being crippled.

In August we took him and a baron cow to Tizer Meats in Helena and had them killed and processed.  I worked with them quite a bit getting them ready by loading and unloading them them and keeping them by themselves to get used to it so they didn’t get adrenaline and end up off flavor and tough, when they went to slaughter.

I thought they were going to be real good but you never know.  We had Crook made into beef sticks, hot dogs, good steaks and some roasts.  The butcher’s didn’t think he would be good eating as a four year old bull.  He is a little tougher than the cow, which is excellent flavor and tender as can be.

When I was in high school we had a small custom slaughter plant, and my grandfather was a butcher all his life, so I know what the outside and the inside looks like and have learned to be pretty good at getting one that is good eating.

We’ve had Crook steaks and they have real good flavor.  They cut the steaks about 1/2 inch thick or less,  which makes it a little more like the beef I ate in Mexico.

Tonight made it all worthwhile.  A great eating experience that really hit the spot.  An animal that was born and raised on our place that I feel had a very good life.  We provided for him, now he is providing for us.  A good way to live.

I love beef.  I eat it a lot.  I don’t care if it is grain finished, grass finished or whatever.  I’ve heard wine finished is awful good.  I used to work for a week in the feedlots in Alberta, and the night before I flew back home I had a favorite steak houses near my motel and would reward myself with a big old juicy Alberta raised beef steak.  Quite a reward!

I’ll never forget my first trip to Mexico as a consultant and after working all day in a huge, very well run feed yard and slaughter facility, having a high class meal right there on the premises and being shown the very best in Mexican hospitality and great eating.  I will never forget the great meal and the great people in Mexico, and it was all for and because of beef.


Colorado State University Meats team does a deal that they have several different quality’s of steak and do a audience test to compare and show what people like without knowing what it is. A blind taste test I think.

One year I was sitting with some ranchers and a couple feedlot operators and we all picked a grass fed steak as the best, as all of the audience did.  It was high quality and very good.  My table was not very happy as it was not there kind of beef.

Every other time I have been through it has been grain finished that wins.  It really depends on the quality you buy.  As they pointed out it’s not always the most expensive that is best.

The thing I learned from this is I liked them all, in all the times, just some I like better than others, but I didn’t spit one piece out on the floor, and was always willing to have another bite.

When someone complained about meat being tough, my grandfather would say “it would be hell of a lot tougher if we didn’t have any”.

So the thing that has made my people a living from ranching to feedlots to slaughter houses, and has been such a big part of my life for the last ten years, working with the people that bring you and me the great eating experience of beef, and the animal that if managed correctly can be so good for our environment and help feed lots of people from resources that could not be used by humans if it weren’t for cows and other grazing animals.

So to me it doesn’t matter if it’s grass or grain finished, bull or steer,  young or old, from Canada, Mexico or the good old USA, I enjoy the people and the lifestyle it takes to raise beef.  I eat it for breakfast, dinner and supper, sometimes in the same day.

I am real thankful for beef and the one that cooks it so well for me.

Thanks Crook, I miss you and enjoy you at the same time.



Just finished last Stockmanship and Stewardship event of 2019.   It was in Monroe, Luisiana, and everything was good.  The arena, the schedule, the format, the attendees, the horses, the cattle, and especially the crew that made it all go so smoothly from NCBA staff to LSU extension folks, were all better than good, so I should restate that.  Everything and everyone was great.

I am on a plane headed home and wondering where I am headed.  This was my last booked event of the year.  My traveling and clinic schedule has been  less than a quarter of the past.  Traveling and workin with a microphone on has been such a big part of my life for a long time.

Quality of life.  That’s been something that has always been on my mind.  As with so many things, it is so simple to see but hard to get.

There is a program in the beef industry we call “Beef Quality Assurance” (BQA).  In its simplest form it is doing all the component parts of creating beef the best way possible to  have “quality beef”.

Some producers put a lot of effort into it, some don’t.  Some producers make it very simple, some make it very complicated.  Different environments and traditions create lots of different ways of producing beef.  It’s the same with life.

The two biggest things I see that will improve BQA is learning new methods and being willing to change to improve.  Some do, some don’t.

Should we have a “People Quality of Life Program”?

There is a hot springs in White Sulfur Springs, Montana that I stop and soak in once in a while.  It has some nice life size paintings on the wall depicting native Americans in the same spot when they were the ones on the land, using the same hot springs I was sitting in.  I got to wondering who had the best quality of life, us or them.


It would seem we do with all our modern conveniences and technology.  I know we have it much easier, but I think it is much more complicated now than it was then.  Everything they did was about survival and living off the land, and most of there time and energy was used to survive, and how well they managed that created quality of life.  I imagine being comfortable, not starving and being safe we’re pretty big parts of quality of life.  I doubt if there too many diet and exercise programs needed.

Now we have replaced hunting and gathering with working and spending.  We work a lot and we spend a lot.  Some are better hunters(higher pay) and some are real good at spending(debt).  If you are not careful and smart about your work it can lower your quality of life, and it is real important to watch how you spend to create quality of life.

If you don’t like to hunt, but like to eat you may not have the best quality of life unless you can do something for the hunter that they don’t like to do.  This is a good way to improve quality of life.  The important thing to understand is to not complicate this or get it out of balance.  It will then become a stressor and take away from quality of life rather than add to it.  If you have to much “stuff” it won’t mean anything and it will become an addiction getting more stuff to try to improve quality of life and it may do just the opposite.

Every one is different, but for me beating hearts create quality of life.  I don’t get real close to a lot of humans, but the ones I am really improve my life.  With Wife Tammy’s new challenge in quality of life, it has actually improved mine in a funny way as it has made me realize how important she is to me and how I may not have been giving her the quality of life she deserved.

My children are such an important part of my quality of life and I am real proud of what and who they are(most of the time).

The animals I get to care for and be a part of are really important to me.  My dog  Possum has really improved life for me, as have Taco, Silver and Rials dog Porsha.

My horse  Jaxson has become a real big part of the enjoyment in my life.  He has gone from a dead runaway scared horse to a real partner, and I think I have improved his quality of life almost as much as he has improved mine.


Having all the 63 Ranch horses and trimming feet, putting shoes on and learning to age by the teeth again, and riding and caring for so many horses has taken me back through the years and got me back to really caring about all parts of being a horseman.

I am really looking forward to figuring out what livestock will work best on the ranch.  Cows, yearlings, bucking horses?  What will create the best improvements to quality of life on “The New 63 Ranch”.

I am so grateful for the internet, this iPad, the trucks and tractors, the wonderful house and propane heat, refrigerators and all the stuff that makes life easier than those native Americans from long ago.  They really help create an easy life and allow us much more time to improve quality of life.  But they can also create so many things that seem like they improve quality of life, but really take away from us and we may not even know it.

So in my “Life Quality Assurance” assessments I am going to enjoy the “stuff” that gives, get rid of or not use “junk” that takes and really learn, implement and change the way I deal with the beating hearts in my life to not only improve my quality of life, but other heartbeats as well.

I’ll tell you one thing, swinging my leg over Jaxsons back used to be like getting on a airplane.  There was going to be a take-off.  Less takeoffs creates better quality of life!