As nervous/excited as I was to work for Compass, it was a relief for Sunday to actually get here. While I've known Compass for years, I've never actually
worked for her. We hang out sometimes when I'm at the lodge, we go for rides on ocassion, and I help out scooping poop when it needs done, but she's always managed to have her rides covered and hasn't needed me as a day rider in the three years she's been Barn Boss.
This year, her wrangler pickins is kind of slim. Three weeks into the season and she's already fired two wranglers and had one walk out. Which left her with her one full-time kid, Packer. Packer's a rock star and I hope she can keep him for the season. The problem with rock star wranglers is that they get burned out; new people always coming and going, having to train new people and pick up the slack when they get fired or walk off wears on a person. Packer hasn't had a day off in three weeks and he's been busting his ass every day since he got there. He's obviously no stranger to hard work and loves working for Compass (I heard that from his own mouth). I'll do whatever I can to ease his burden, and subsequently, Compass' burden, because I want him to stay. He's good with the horses and guests and works from sun up to sun down.
Compass has changed things about the livery - mostly how the horses are treated. They're happy horses and I love that. But each Barn Boss has their own way of doing things, so I was pretty much in the way at barn call. I eventually got the hang of the new routine, but I was definitely a third wheel. She and Packer have it down to a science.
She offered to let me come up after barn call, but I insisted on being there. I *hated* day wranglers who just showed up and took out rides and never had to do any of the actual work of the livery, so I was up and on the road by 6:00 am to make barn call. I was ten minutes late because I couldn't remember where all my stuff was, but I did make it in time to throw a monkey wrench into their routine.
I love the physicality of working the livery. I love the grooming, feeding, saddling - all of it. Call me crazy, but I feel like I've accomplished so much by the end of the day. There actually aren't many people who get to do what we do.
Compass had a private ride scheduled for me at 10:00: three semi-experienced riders for a three-hour ride. Estes' feet aren't ready and I don't have a saddle that fits her, so, darn, I had to take out Eli. I like to ride Eli because he makes my butt look small. Seriously. Ride a draft - they're good for your self image.
My ride showed up almost an hour late, but we got to go out. Remember how I said Eli makes my butt look small? Well, that's pretty much all I love about riding Eli. He's huge! Mounting from the ground is an issue for me, but I did it. Repeatedly. He's also twice as wide as Estes. Add in the Western saddle and he's closer to three times as wide as Estes. My ass told me about it for the first thirty minutes of the ride. It's still grumbling a little bit, to be honest.
Funny story: Compass' legs are longer than mine. I know, it's no surprise. So I made sure to mount up before my people got there to adjust the saddle to fit me. I had to raise the stirrups all the way to the last hole. Again, not surprising. Only, even with the stirrups on the last hole, they were too long for me. That didn't bother me so much because I only use stirrups for mounting and dismounting anyway and since I ride bareback 99.9% of the time, not having them wasn't a big deal for me. Anyshortlegs, my ride got there and we got mounted up and as I was leaving the yard, Packer asked me if I wanted help getting my stirrups. Poor kid thought I dropped them and couldn't recover them on my own. I had to admit that they were too long, so he started to offer to shorten them. About halfway through his offer, he must have seen the look of amusement on my face because it dawned on him that they were as short as they would go and he sent us off with a laugh.
The ride was amazing and the guests were fun. We passed a pile of Moose poop and I told them about how I'd never seen a Moose in real life on the trails, but that we'd been seeing piles of poop for the last year or so. I told the story about how I went on a "Moose hunt"
last year and finally saw one over Trail Ridge Road. I told them about how Beel had seen one just a few weeks ago at breakfast
. But not me. Poor GunDiva, moose repellant.
And then we rounded a curve and were able to overlook some beaver ponds. I was pointing out that shortly we'd be riding down through the beaver ponds and I saw something move. No way! I just been talking about moose and there were two of them, about 300 yards away down in the ponds just as happy as they could be.
|For such big critters, they're hard to spot|
|Does this help?|
One is broadside to us, the other is facing us head-on.
I'm so glad that I learned years ago to always take a camera with me. The guests didn't have a camera with them, sad day for them. They weren't quite as excited about seeing them as I was, but whatever. I'm the first one to have seen them while out on a ride, nanner, nanner, nanner.
Since we saw the moose in the first hour of the ride, the rest of it was pretty ho-hum. At least for me. The guests loved it, even once their knees and ankles started hurting. All I can say is thank God the scenery is so breath taking. If it wasn't none of the wranglers would make any tips at all; the guests would be too busy focusing on their sore bodies.
We got back to the livery dead on time - something I've always prided myself on being able to do after the first and only time I've ever gotten a ride lost. There were no other rides on the books, so Compass had called it a day while I was out, to give Packer a break. A half a day off is better than no day off, I suppose. It all worked out, because once I got my horses broken down, I still had time to hang out with the family for Nebalee's belated birthday celebration and spend some time with Her Highness, who was P-I-S-S-E-D that I was working with Those Horses.