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Circle In The Sand


Have you ever had one of those days that was real special that you will never forget.  I did last Saturday.

I started the morning having a real nice ride moving some cattle and my pups worked real nice.  Then I had a a drive through some of the most spectacular mountain ranch country you can imagine.  If you ever get the chance to drive from Martinsdale, Montana to Bozeman do it.

I stopped and had a visit with Tim Zupan, of the King of Hearts Ranch, a great high mountain ranch(more on that some other time.)

I went on to Three Forks, Montana to Headwaters Livestock Market where my Son Rial is employed.  The vet was there to bleed and preg check different pens of cows, and it was fun to work with Rial and see how much he enjoyed his job. 

They were some older weaker cows and they were going down in the chute as it was slick, so Rial got a skid steer and dirt and we made it better for the cows.  He’s a good stockman and really cares.  

He worked there when he was being homeschooled several years ago, and seeing him work shows how much he enjoys working livestock and I’m proud he is good at it.

I then headed to The Brogger’s to have an old partner fixed up.  Mark made a saddle for me many years ago, and I bet it’s been more miles, been on a colt for it’s first saddling and roped and layed quite a few cattle down in front of an audience more than lots of saddles that are built.  The sheep skin is good, but the horn and the seat have seen lots of different places.  I don’t make big circles, but there is plenty to do when I’m in the saddle.

I really enjoy visiting with Mark about the cowboy trade, and think a lot of he and Lola.  If you are considering having a saddle made, I highly recommend his saddles.

I headed back to the sale barn to give Rial a ride home.  I have been trying to find a song that was on an CD we used to have from KNON radio in Dallas Texas.  I asked Rial and he knew exactly the song and found it on my IPad.

I always liked the song and have wanted to hear it again for years, but I had the wrong artist in my mind, so I could never find it. 

We got to his house and I got to experience the main reason for my trip, to see our new Grandson.

When I saw that baby it was one of those moments in life when you feel the circle of love.  It was so great to see Rial and Mary Kate as parents.  It took me right back to when Tammy and I had Rial and all the joy and fear we had at the time.  I just couldn’t have imagined how it was going to feel to see the kid.

I’m sure they will get through all the fear and advice they are experiencing.

They have lots of ideas, opinions and good and bad habits like everyone else, and they are getting lots of advice and opinions from Moms and Grandmothers, just like we did with Rial. 

I think it’s a great time to be alive.  Just think of how good the baby’s of today are going to have it.  My hope is that the boy gets the values and love of the land and animals we in agriculture have, and enjoys a much easier and safer life as technology takes us forward.  He needs the balance of the past and the present, and that’s the role I would like to help with.  I can’t wait to see him horseback!

As I was driving home in the dark, I had a lot of time to think of all the good times ahead.  I listened to “Leo and Leona” a few times, and I’m not sure it’s a coincidence that I got reunited with the song on this special day.


This is a great love song and it reminds me of Rial and Mary Kate

Being a grandparent is real special, a circle in the sand.



Reflect and Plan

The last day of the year is a good time to do a little reflecting on the past twelve months and doing a little reality check.  

It’s really good to do today as it’s cold out.  I was horseback at first light and moved my livestock to feed and shelter so they will be the most content and productive, have plenty of wood stacked up to keep the fire going in our cozy little cabin, and my wife  had a great breakfast of hamburger steak and eggs(I added Hatch green chili) prepared for us when I got back to the house.

The first thing I checked was water.  When it’s cold like this there is nothing worse than frozen water, and it always starts the day right when the waterer is working.  I chop ice on the Musselshell River when livestock are in that pasture, and it’s not near as fun.  By pre feeding for a week it allows me to get my horses rode with a real job to do, and I only have to operate equipment once a week, and it distributes manure and urine equally on my pastures.  I also am getting the most of my feed as the steers/ bulls get the first chance at the feed and the cow/horses clean it up.  This way they all get plenty to eat and I don’t waste any feed.  The exercise and handling are good for me, my horses and dogs as well as the cattle.

That’s my little world when I’m home, and it is just a great way to finish a good year and start a new one.

As I look back on 2018 it was very good.  The first day of paid work was in a feedlot in Nebraska, and the last day of paid work was at a feedyard in Canada, with demonstrations and consulting all over the United States, Canada, and Mexico in between. I stayed in lots of nice motels, ate lots of good meals, flew on lots of airplanes (over 110 flights) and worked with a whole bunch of great people and livestock.  I will say it one more time-I have the best job in the world.

At the start of the year I committed to reading a daily bible.  I chose a chronological, easy reading version and read the last day today.  It was a good way to start each day.

I also committed to learning more of the Spanish language.  I have an app that I study on every day and am getting better.  I have a difficult time learning and remembering but I am getting better at Spanish and learning.

I started the year working out (my wife calls it Yoga) and about three months in I had trouble with my sciatic nerve and had to quit and never started again, so that was somewhat of a failure.

All in all it was a good year,  work and health wise.  I am very content at home and on the road making a living.  The best part of both are the animals, and most of all the great people I get to interact with.

I’ll share an experience we just had on how great the people in the livestock world are.  I watch a lot of rodeos on the “Wrangler “ network.  I’ve become a big fan of J.R. Vervain for his try and great attitude as a world class bareback rider.  He married one of the Newman girls, and they don’t live to far from us, and I have always admired the horses they rode and the bucking horses they made.  He became a favorite bareback rider to watch.

Well he had a horse flip over on him and he broke his back and has lots of medical bills.  They had a benefit for him that we went to and seeing all the ranch, rodeo, and business people that went all out to help anyway they could was very inspirational, just as his try and attitude are.

It was so great to be a part of the crowd that are people that can live this tough western life, yet be so giving and caring.  We were surrounded by people caring and sharing and having fun all at the same time.  It just reminded us of how great the western folks that live the life of cowboys are, and how fortunate I am to be in the livestock business.

I want to do better.  2018 was great but I want to get better in 2019.  I am going to try to figure out ways to become more valuable in my job.  That’s my goal.

I did this interview a while back.  It was something real different for me as I had to think about my business model.  There might be some things in this that get you to thinking about some things in your business, or it could be a good way to get a nap.  Either way it would be beneficial.

I really encourage you to shut everything down and spending a little time reflecting and planning in the next day or two.  Maybe it should be something we do all the time not just at the end of the year.

Do your best in 2019!

A Touch of Evil

When we were at Christmas Eve dinner at Rial and Mary Kate’s, the movie  a Touch of Evil was on.

Wife Tammy and I don’t have tv, but watched it a few nights later on the computer.

Its a different show, but we enjoyed it.  The reason we wanted to watch it was because of this song by my favorite singer Tom Russell.

Hope you like the song and maybe the movie.


Away in a manger

It’s been a real nice Christmas.  We went to our Son Rials and his best girl Mary Kate’s place Christmas Eve.  Her Mother Kelly fixed some real southern food as in Black Eyed Peas, Corn bread with jalapeños and real good sweet potato something.  It was good eating.

It was a great time and they are going to have a new addition to the family anytime so it was real special.  It was nice spending time in “their” place.

It wasn’t fun driving home.  The roads were terrible part of the way and we had a trailer on, so it made it extra fun.  People driving on black ice seem to want to die, even if it is Christmas Eve.  I can’t imagine anything is worth getting too and taking those chances.

We had a very quiet day here in good old Ryegate.  I have always really enjoyed taking care of animals on Christmas.  When I was in third grade I remember writing a thing about being with animals like Jesus was on this day, and it always has been what I liked.


I had a corriente bull that I got with some mini cows I bought last year and he kept jumping the fence so I hauled him to the sale about nine months ago. Well he gave me some Christmas presents.  I had three new calves when I went out this morning! I had one about a week ago and then three in one night.  Good thing we are having nice weather.



The thing I really enjoy is how all the animals get along around here.  Cats and dogs eating and sleeping together.  We have two young dogs and they were so curious about the calves and the cows didn’t seem to mind much.

I’ve got these two barn cats that rub on my horses legs sometimes when I’m saddling.  At first I was pretty sure they were going to get pawed or kicked but they have got my horses pretty cat broke.


So it was just Wife Tammy and me and all our animals.  For me a real nice way to spend a very special day.

I feel those of us that have animals as a big part of our life have a real opportunity for peace in what we do.  This is why I like stockmanship so much.

I believe Jesus would have been the kind of stockman that took good care of his animals and would have a real nice pressure that would create harmony with the earth, animals, and man.  If that’s true we had a little piece of it here today.  I hope you did too.

Merry Christmas 

The sky above, the mud below

Headed north to Canada for a few days.  I’ve been home for a while and getting lots of things done.  I have been riding three horses real consistent and getting a couple of young dogs out and working while moving my tiny heard of cattle around to feed a couple of times a day.  I really have been enjoying myself, and feel real good about the progress we’re making and the way we are making it.

I read a thing on eating a while back that has really changed the way I  approach things.

When eating it said to change your focus from your brain to your stomach.

What a simple concept that I was missing.  I really like to eat, and I’m not real picky on the kind of food, as long as it it’s good.  I eat a lot. Too much.

So I am trying to shift my thinking to really enjoying the eating but having my mind down below rather than up above.  It’s really helping me enjoy eating during and after.

Well I have been thinking about this with other things, and I think it would be helpful for you to explore this way of doing things.  It puts the focus to the place that is effective.

The three things that seem to interfere with doing our best is a lack of self discipline, lack of skill development, and ego.  

If you don’t have self discipline, you may be working hard but the focus is in the wrong area, so it’s not effective.

Developing the skills to achieve something is about learning.  The better we get at learning, the easier it gets to develop skills physically and mentally.  Learning can become a way of life.

Ego can really drive a person to develop skills.  It’s a good thing to a point, but I have been watching this for a long time and people with real strong egos usually end up frustrated and the animals and people around them end up not getting the best quality of situations in life.

As I mentioned I have been riding quite a bit.  At one time in my life I didn’t have any hair on the inside of my legs.  That means I rode a lot.  It’s not that way anymore and I miss riding and crave it.

When I was a kid I don’t think there was a day when I didn’t have my legs wrapped around a horse.  I would ride my pony Pee Wee to the corner of the pasture on the way to the bus and turn him loose.  We just rode, that’s what my sister and I did.

We weren’t training horses, we were just riding and it was our entertainment.  We did things we shouldn’t have done and it’s pretty amazing we survived it, but we did. We  weren’t training our horses, they were training us.  How to ride,

How to catch, how to take care of and all kinds of things.

When I started riding bucking horses I learned to really admire and respect the spirit and athleticism of the horse.  I just can’t explain what an appreciation you get for the horse when you ride them for eight seconds at a time and they are giving it all they have got.  I have been in awe of it since the first horse I got on and really feel bad for the horse when I see someone take the life and spirit out of the horse.  It makes me sad.  When I have to ride that way I will quit for the love of the horse.

The next phase was starting colts and getting horses handier.  I’ve alway rode horses that have lots of go.  I was influenced by lots of different people and I went through lots of ego based horsemanship.  Some of the skills I was learning were real important for what I needed to do.  Getting a horse to stop, back up and turn around in balance we’re things I had not learned before and it was real helpful.  Then it took ahold of me and my ego took over and I feel sorry for what I put some horses through because of it.

I’ll give the example of flying lead changes.  I had a paint Mare we called Major.

I really worked on lead changes and she got to wear I could do pretty good changes every couple of strides.  She was always bothered a little when doing them.  She and another horse  I had named “Count” went through a lot of my ego horsemanship days.

I really never found the need for a flying lead change worth the trouble I put Major through.  I wasn’t showing horses, but I was showing off my horsemanship.  I didn’t take the try out of her, but I sure got her a little bothered.

I think when I got real interested in the cattlehandling is when I started to change my horsemanship.  When I started to try to use my horses not to force cattle to react, but to get them to change their mind and decide to do it, that changed everything.

Now it was about being in the perfect position to create the proper pressure.  That really changed the focus line to a different spot, just like changing your focus to the stomach from the taste buds.

I actually get so much more pleasure out of eating and riding with the shift.  I’m real sure my horses are better off.

As I watch things and create my point of view it is becoming clear that many people get drawn to focusing on the wrong spot.  

Be careful.  Don’t let yourself get focused on the wrong spot.  As I try to figure out how the people who’s skill I admire have gotten those skills, I feel they have learned to shift the focus to what really matters to make it work.

It seems if you move your focus down below it will help in lots of situations.In eating move the focus from head to stomach, in horsemanship move your focus from the body down to the feet, and in if you move your focus to the soil your crops and grass will benefit. 

In all these things it’s real easy to be influenced to do just the opposite.

Think of some of the things that are important to you and see if you have your focus on the right spot.  I hope it helps.


Here is a great song as an added bonus to make the point and enjoy a story

The Quantum Physics Of Stockmanship

I rewatched “ What The Bleep Do We Know” a few days ago.  It really got me to thinking and I was not disappointed in my memory of it.  It goes right back to what we think and how we act creates contentment or unhappiness in our life.  I like the science behind it but also the kind of out there thinking that really gets my brain going.

So how does this have anything to do with stockmanship?  It has everything to do with it.  

I have gotten to see and be a part of so many different types of human/animal interactions.  I’ve seen the strongest toughest guys in the world scared to death of and/or very gentle  when working with animals.  I’ve seen people that were not very tough or strong spur and jerk horses, hot shot the heck out of cattle, and kick a dog.  It has  little to do with a persons physical and lots to do with a persons mental.  The brain and how it has learned to handle fear and stimulation from the interaction with animals.

I don’t know if everything in the movie is scientifically proven fact, but let’s assume that it is.  There are some things that could really make a difference in how you can be successful in your interactions that you want to have with animals.

One experiment they highlight is the study of water by Dr Emoto.  He put different words like “I love you” or “I hate you” on a jar of water and then looked at the crystals in a microscope.  It is amazing what happens to the molecular structure of the water.  Check it out on google.

I believe I recall our animals are about 80% water.  If we are angry or don’t like them it could be changing the way their body and brain works when we interact with them, just the same as in the water experiments.  On the other side if we feel good about them and like interacting in a positive way could we change their molecular structure and have a better immune response?

Maybe the hotshot isn’t bad, but the intent of the person using it.  If the intent was different in the first place, the animal might have not needed the extra prodding.

I hope you will really think about this and study it.  Watch the YouTube videos.

It might be a bunch of bull, but it might not.

Another thing I picked up from the film was how people create the same situations without even realizing it.  Somehow our brain gets stimulus even if it is a negative and we get a satisfaction or stimulation from it even if we could have a better situation.

I’ll give an example of something that a lot of people disagree with me on.  The overbending of the horses neck while riding or preparing them to ride.

The  reason people disagree is we want different outcomes and are riding with different goals.  The first thing is I don’t get a fear response in my brain when a horse bucks or wants to run off.  I feel confident I can ride most anything, and at one time in my life I felt like I could ride anything and proved it.  This is not normal and because of my former experience and physical ability it did not create a fear in my brain.

The other thing is if felt if you let a horse move out and helped him through his fear with proper riding skills and let him think his way out of the fear it would stick and then the human became a positive stimulus in the horses brain as well.  I could get what I wanted and not take the life and try out of my horse.

This is what I like, and makes my brain tell me to work with as many animals as I can because I get such a good feeling of getting along and getting things done.

I didn’t realize that this is not for most people. The reason is because of the fear factor when riding something so powerful as a horse.  That why I don’t fit the horse world very well.  

I have nothing against spurs, and feel some people really need them.  I haven’t wore spurs for a long time.  I feel my horses are very responsive to my feel because I keep the life in them by not bending them, and I keep a real forward attitude with lots of “life” in my mind.

On the other side of the mountain, I ride with a snaffle bit.  Even though I have lots of go in my horses I like the feel and control I get with a snaffle and can really get to the horses mind, then to his body without taking the life out.  THAT REALLY GIVES ME SOME GOOD FEELING IN MY BRAIN.

But that’s me, and I didn’t pay enough attention to what other people were going through with this fear.  When people put a helmet and a safety vest on they are afraid.  They should be.  So they do things to try to be safer.  So they do lots of ground work that takes some of the life out so they feel safe.  Then they get on and have to have a way to feel safe so they bend the horse and disengage the hind end to feel safe.  This takes lots of the forward out of the horse and they feel safer.

That’s  good for the human.  But what about the horse.  Every time he tries he gets shut down or taught to escape through a shoulder.  After a while the horse loses the will to go forward and some of the try is gone.

Well then the rider gets more confidence and wants to go.  Now it’s hard to get the horse to go because we have taken some of the life out, and it’s hard to get him to go where we want because we have thought him to not go strait.

So I was wrong for some people, but not for the horse.

I had a real nice experience last week at a feedyard.  They had a little horse that always bucked when they first got on him and would buck if you put to much pressure on to quick out working cattle.  

I said I would like to ride him.  They brought him into the barn after lunch.  I groomed him with my hand in the tie stall.  I put one arm against him and groomed him with the other hand.  I call this a three point contact. (Thank you to Dr Robert Miller).  I feel this will really help get a horse to let down some of its fear or anxiety.  When he got a little tight I would do what my subconscious would tell me to do to relax him.  I saddled and bridled him the same way.  I then led him out with all the other guys and got off the concrete and out in the dirt with a little more room and stepped to him like I was going to get on.

I noticed several of the guys had their cell phones out so they were expecting a little something.  When I stepped to him to get on he got tight and ready to buck.  I relaxed him with the three point contact and as soon as he was relaxed I led him forward as if I was on him(from out front). I stepped back to him after he walked relaxed and calm.  He was fine with me putting my foot in the stirrup so I stepped half way on.  He got tight again so I relaxed him and as soon as he was not thinking about bucking I stepped down and lead him forward.  I did the same one more time, maybe twice.

He felt good the next time so I just stepped on.  He felt relaxed so I lead him forward by taking his head to the right just a little and leading him forward from his back.  I didn’t use my legs as that would of made him want to buck.  He walked off real nice and I took him in a 20 foot circle to the left and a twenty foot circle to the right and said we we ready to go.  

He was perfect all afternoon and I got lots of work done on him.  The next morning I just saddled him and stepped on and was ready to go.  He didn’t try to buck one time and I really enjoyed riding him.

Now the thing is he could have blown up and bucked me off.  Then everyone would have said I should have done ground work.  

I did do ground work. It fit this horse.  If it didn’t I was willing to suffer the consequences and try to ride him.  I see people that are afraid they will have trouble create a lot more trouble than they had before they started.  This is why it is so important to get a horse that matches your ability.

I feel I can get along real good with horses, dogs and cattle because I can match pressure mentally and physically with them.  The more I’m around animals the more important this becomes to me.  

It really bothers me and I get the wrong brain stimulus when I fight with animals or make them afraid.  It really makes me feel good when I can really get along with animals and they feel content with me.  Same with people.

The animals I am interacting with in my life are really making me feel good.  When We sit in the house in the evening We have three dogs and three cats pretty close by.  The three hoses I am riding are all really working nice and not bothered to much, and I am not fighting with them, just having fun.

It is so great to ride out on these young horses and have a couple young dogs and an old fat one and not be yelling and screaming commands at them and not jerking and spurring on my horse.  The cattle take a little pressure sometimes from the pups, but want to be with me as that’s where the pressure is off.  They need a little exercise anyway.

So I hope you understand what I’m trying to say.  You create your own situations.  You set it up so your animals work well and you work your animals well. YOU CREATE THE STRUCTURE IN THE JAR OF WATER!

Anger and fear(of failure) create negative situations while confidence and knowledge create positive situations.

As we were riding out as a group  at the feedyard that day the fellow they all look up to as a real good hand said the day wasn’t over and the little horse would buck.  We were going along and his three year old did something and he got after him with his spurs and bit pretty aggressive.  I don’t know if the horse did something wrong or something else did something wrong, but the horse got the pressure.  I like the fellow and am sure he gets a lot done, I just wonder if he feels as good as he could, and if the animals that he interacts with could be better, and I wonder if the people that pay him wouldn’t get better value from him if he used a better kind of pressure. (Not necessarily less, but better)

I hope you will watch the movie, or at least think about the pressure you use and honestly analyze if it is the best for you and that you haven’t got into a pattern that is not the best for you or your animals.

On another note.  As I have noted before I have been reading a daily chronological bible all year.  I’m just to the time when Jesus is tried and going to be crucified.  I was thinking Jesus fit right into the thinking of creating the right pressure through parables and examples.  What the bleep and the Bible fit pretty good together-if that’s what you want!

Temple Talk

Here is a trailer of Temple Grandin speaking at the Best Horses Practices Summit.  I’ve seen her speak and present lots of times but I felt she was really “on” at this one and I think it would be worth the money to listen to this.


The video reminds me of a “Ted Talk” so I titled it Temple Talk.