Friday, November 07, 2008

“Rebekah – An Evening in Purple”

In this down economy, most of us can't see ourselves giving away money. However, for you women readers that live in the Flathead Valley, here's a wonderful night out that will benefit a good cause AND your state of mind! A local gal is hosting a benefit dinner in memory of her sister, who passed away of lung cancer. The proceeds will go to the local Hospice, which is primarily a volunteer organization. There will be great food, door prizes and massage, as well as motivational speakers. Please view the "Evening in Purple" press release for more information.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Lost Horse in the Scapegoat Wilderness

LOST: 4 Year Old Dark Sorrel Gelding
Markings: small white star on forehead and one white sock on rear foot.

The horse, "Chance", was lost October 18th while on a hunting trip in the Bob Marshall Wilderness; he was last seen 9 mi up the north fork of the Blackfork, near the south end of Lake Otatsi which is out of the Ovando Trailhead. His tracks led to the trailhead, but he hasn't been seen since.

He broke his halter while tied, but was wearing the following equipment:
  • Dark brown older saddle with tan padded seat
  • Green horn bag
  • Leather rifle scabbard
  • Leather Saddlebags containing a blue/gray wool shirt, orange poncho & orange knit hat
  • Headstall & reins (tied up on saddle)
Please keep your eyes and ears out for this horse - he may still be lost or may have been picked up by someone at the trailhead. If you have any news, please call Outfitters Supply toll-free at 1-888-467-2256.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

How to attach a leather saddle string using the slit braid method

I've had a lot of requests for instructions on how to attach a leather saddle string. It's difficult to explain via email or over the phone, so I thought I'd work up an official set and post them online. View the slit-braid instructions here. This method of attachment will work for attaching leather strings to an O ring, D ring or slotted concho on a saddle or bridle. Hope this helps!

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Le Cadeoau Du Cheval (The Horse Gift)

Someone sent me a link to this mural a while ago, and I just assumed that most horse people had seen it as well. But, I've been told that I am very wrong, and I should put this link out there. This remarkable mural is made up of 238 individual paintings and panels done by 174 artists from all over the world. It was unveiled September 3, 2008 at Spruce Meadows in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. It will be traveling to different venues (such as the National Finals Rodeo in Vegas and the Quarter Horse Congress) for the next two years. After that, it will be donated to a permanent public showcase. Check it out!

The image at left shows the creative team of Phil Alain, Paul Lavoie and Lewis Lavoie (photo credit Lavoie Studios).

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Osprey Packs and Leave No Trace Team Up for a Youth Writing Contest

I've always been a huge advocate of the Leave No Trace Principles, and firmly believe that if we teach our kids to respect the backcountry and its wildlife, we have a shot at preserving the natural beauty around us for future generations to enjoy. In that spirit, I'd like to spread the word about the writing contest that is being sponsored by Osprey Packs. If you have or know any youth that can put pen to paper and has ever hiked or ridden, let them know about this opportunity.

KIDS: You must be between the ages of 6 and 16 to enter. In 250-500 words, tell about a place you have hiked or backpacked that was especially memorable for you. Why is it special (good or bad)? Did you encounter any animals? Was the area taken care of well or poorly? Last but NOT least, choose one of the seven Leave No Trace principles and tell us how you applied it to your adventure. You are also welcome (but not required) to include a photo of yourself - especially if it was taken on the adventure you chose to write about.

When asked how long this contest will last, Osprey answered, "Until we get every kid out there hiking and Leaving No Trace!" Maybe so, but you should probably get your entries in as soon as you can. All winners will receive a Sprint Series pack, be featured on Osprey's website , and possibly have your entry printed in an Osprey catalog. Also, winners will be featured in an upcoming Leave No Trace newsletter.

Send your entry to with the subject "Reading and Writing". You'll be notified within 30 days if you are a winner. For more information, go to the Osprey Packs website.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Gaited horses arrive in Montana

Gaited horses sure have become popular here in Montana these last few years but it has been some 70 years since they first arrived. How do I know that? Well, my grandmother's brother had a son by the name of Kenny Gleason. I'm not sure what relation that makes me to him - cousin once or twice or thrice removed, maybe? Kenny and his wife Alice started a dude ranch in the late 1920's, and in 1938 decided they needed to introduce some bloodlines to their string that not only would appeal to their eastern clientele, but could negotiate the rough trails of the Rocky Mountains.

Alice Gleason recorded the stories of those years, and they were found in a closet after her death in 1997. The best of them have been published in a book titled Starting from Scratch: The Adventures of a Lady Dude Rancher. Alice wrote an article entitled "Developing the Trail Horse" for American Horseman in November, 1940. It is included in the book, and details the development of their mountain horse string using Montana's first Tennessee Walker. An excerpt from this article is shown below.

From the Northern Rockies, where our ranch is located, to Middle Tennessee is a far cry. Too far even for smoke signals from Blackfeet Country but still not to far for us to haul a Tennessee Walking horse stallion in a horse trailer, 2,400 miles from Lewisburg to the ranch! And all to carry out an experiment, amid the guffaws of our neighbours, of cross-breeding fine, good natured, smooth Westbrook's Colonel Allen 370197 with the lowly "cayuse" of the Indian country. Why do we want to do this? To try to get the ideal trail horse for our dude ranch business. We must have gentle, sure-footed, quick-witted, tough horses and yet they must be spirited, easy gaited and have style and finish or the dudes won't like 'em. The work is on rocky mountain trails from 5,000 to 9,000 feet and each day's workout ranges between ten and thirty miles. The cayuse can take it; but he doesn't have the beauty, height or style favored by easterners.

We were somewhat concerned about bringinga southern-bred horse into this cold northern climate, especially in the fall of the year. Old-timers shook their
heads and said, "He'll never make it. The first blizzard'll get him." However, it was now or never for us, and we needn't have had any qualms. "Colonel" was dumbfounded at the first snowfall. He pawed it , snorted and whistled at it, bit it and raced around full of excitement over it and then got down to business and grew a fine winter coat, just like any range horse would do. We did not try to keep him blanketed and prevent him growing a heavy coat because we were still uneasy about the bitter winter ahead. We kept him stabled, of course, but there were few days all winter that he wasn't out at least for his exercise and, to the old timers' amazement, he "made it."
Written by the late Alice Gleason
Reprinted in "Starting from Scratch",
Compiled and edited by Genny Barhaugh &
Carol Guthrie of Choteau Montana.
Published by Star Route Publishing.
I was lucky enough to see The Colonel when I was about 10 years old. He lived to a ripe old age and sired hundreds of colts and fillies that joined one of the best dude strings in Montana. I often stop in to see the Gleason ranch, originally called the Circle 8 Ranch. A magnificent piece of Montana history, it is now called Pine Butte Guest Ranch and is owned and operated by The Nature Conservancy.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Grizzly Bear Central

It's been awhile since my last post, and I sure wish I could say it was because I was out in the woods! But, we're keeping busy at Outfitters Supply. Not only is it our busiest time of year, but we are finalizing a couple of new products that I'm very excited about. I'll let you know more as we draw closer to final production, but I will say the the trailMax saddlebag line will be a little more well-rounded and our Decker pack saddles just may see another huge improvement!

Of course, I can't work ALL the time, so I did get out into the backcountry for a quick in and out trip with my wife, Maxine, and two close friends, Vic and Puck Workman. We entered the astoundingly beautiful Glacier Park National Park and started our ride at Lake McDonald. Our destination: Trout Lake and Arrow Lake, otherwise known as "Grizzly Bear Central". You may have read or been told about "Night of the Grizzlies". Well, Trout Lake is where the famous grizzly attack took place. However, we only saw scat on the trail as the bears must have been elsewhere avoiding the heat.

In just 4 miles, we went up and over a mountain and back down the other side. On the way up we gained about 2,500 feet in elevation, and then we lost about 2,000 of it going back down into Trout Lake. Arrow Lake was only another three miles, so we kept pushing, hoping to get there before the heat of the day. But, by the time we reached the lake, it was already 95 degrees, so all horses and humans dove right in for a dip.

We did get in some fabulous dry-fly fishing as well. The far end of Arrow lake produced several 13 - 15" cutthroats. We debated going another 3 miles to Camas Lake, but decided it was just too much to ask of the horses in that kind of heat. All in all, we had a great time, and since we walked quite a bit to give the horses a break, we could even say we had a good workout ourselves.

The following pictures are (in order): Puck Workman, Vic Workman, and Russ and Maxine Arnold. All were taken at Arrow Lake in Glacier National Park.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Bernice ready to complete final stage of ride

Bernice will be leaving the cool comfort of the Astoria, Oregon and Naselle, Washington area on Sunday, July 22nd. Please wish her luck as she braves the head and heads up the Columbia River to Cathlamet, Washinton. From there, she is heading north to Castle Rock, east to Yakima, then just north of Spokane. She will cross over into Libby, Montana through National Forest lands to bring her back home to Trego, Montana on the back road (Fortine Creek Road).

She's excited to head home, and says it now seems like nothing to look at 700 or 800 miles of road before her. However, she is a little worried about the latest heat wave, and plans to take her time until the cooler weather of the mountains and autumn. She will be riding only from about 4 am to 10 am, then 5 or 6 pm until dark. During the heat of the day, you'll find her next to a good watering hole with plenty of shade for all three of them.

What's next? Yes, Bernice is already planning her next trip, which will take her through the desert in the winter. She will probably head back out in January or February, heading through Death Valley, the Grand Canyon and Sedona. She's excited for the new experience - she'll be taking a pack animal.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Placement of hobbles

I had a customer ask me the other day where I preferred to attach my hobbles; high or low. To some extent, this is a matter of personal preference. I like to put my hobbles just above the fetlock (ankle joint), rather than down on the pastern. I haven't seen a lot of chafing when I put them here, not to mention the fact that I don't have to bend over quite as far to put them on! There are some hobbles, especially figure eight and rope hobbles that don't cinch up tightly enough to stay above the joint; just make sure that if you are using these, that they do not chafe or interfere with the flexing at the joint.

On a side note, I also like to have the hobbles up above the fetlock because I can attach both ends of the hobble to one leg while the horse is highlined or tied in camp. Then, should I want to turn the animal out to graze or stop it from pawing, I know exactly where the hobbles are and can hobble quickly. Of course, you should never leave the hobbles attached like this if you are moving down the trail or if you leave the horse unattended.

You can also read my article on training horses and mules to hobble. Just keep in mind that this article assumes that you have a gentle, willing animal to work with. Hobbling a horse or mule before it is mentally ready could be disastrous for both you and the animal.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Chinese horses???

Just a quick entertaining blog entry today... Many have asked about the horses used by the British Long Rider Daniel Robinson. When his lawyer was asked about their origin, he said that he believed they were some sort of "Chinese" horses. Once Daniel was freed and available for comment, he confirmed the horse's origin. His trusted friends and companions for the long arduous journey were in fact... Mules!