Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas & Happy Hanukkah

Chino & Handy 2003

Note: In October 2010, as some of you may recall, my old email address was hijacked by Nigerians in London.  In the process of that I lost my entire contact list and have been slowly rebuilding it.  Some however, I do not have.  If you would like to be in contact with me, please send me your email address.

Christmas Season 2011:

The year passed quickly and seemed to be a tough one for many.  Here at the ranch, the Wallow Fire created serious problems but extraordinary friends from Phoenix, California, Yuma and Grants stood by to get horses moved and settled out of harm's way.  The environmental whackos have succeeded once again in destroying property and resources with their idiotic hands off of the forests approach.  The politicians and bureaucrats that are intimidated by the Occupy and spandex crowds need to be thrown out of office.

The disarray economically and politically is creating malaise and increasing anger in our public spheres.  Diversity is tearing this country apart.  For a nation to be strong, a homogenous population sharing a common language, values and religion - as in Judeo-Christian - is a prerequisite for stability.  We now are a massive welfare state where 47% do not pay any income tax and the rest of us support them.

Managed to get in several good rides during the late summer and autumn.  Postings will be forthcoming. 

Several very difficult forensic cases consumed my time throughout the year.  The broken system becomes ever more evident.  The maliciousness of prosecutors and the lack of separation between the investigative police units and prosecutors insures that unbiased and fair investigative techniques are a thing of the past.  I did participate in one "win" in federal court on a homicide up on the Hopi Reservation.  The investigative process of the FBI was substandard and cursory to say the least.  I did the shooting reconstruction and my belief was that the defendant should have walked away with time served.  But, the system demands its blood debt regardless of the circumstances.  The law has become so hyper-rationalized as Max Weber pointed out that the realities of human interaction and response are virtually ignored - unless one is a celebrity or a politician.  I worked with great attorneys this year and their efforts on behalf of the defendants have been remarkable.

Stormy & Handy 2007

I lost two wonderful horses this year.  First was Stormy,, in February and then in June, his longtime rangemate Handy had to be put down. 

Wishing all on this distribution a very blessed Christmas and the stamina to march forward into 2012. 

The results of the election next November are going to have profound effects upon America.  I am a registered Independent because I find both parties objectionable, but, if the current occupant of the Oval Office is reelected, America as our Founders envisioned will exist no more.  It does not now but it can still be fixed.  Do your duty and vote not on the campaign skills of the candidate but on their positions regarding those issues that determine our way of life. 

I vote on smaller government, lower taxes, illegal immigration, gun rights, and absolute protection of the natural rights given us by our Creator and embodied in the Bill of Rights.  I can tell all of you most assuredly that if this country does not turn around with this next election, the torch of freedom that burned so bright when I grew up and is now just a sickly flame will flicker into darkness and it will NEVER be lit again.  Generations that have come of age since the 1960s will not care because they will never miss freedoms they have never known.  So long as folks have professional sports, electronic toys and entitlements from the damn government, they will go along with anything.  A groping by a TSA welfare thug shows us that the terrorists have won but Americans are too complacent or stupid to realize it. 

They have been suckled at the tit of the nanny state where equality supercedes individual liberty, diversity is more important than a shared culture and values, deviant behavior is to be protected, Christianity is to be assaulted and destroyed, and government and those that work for it from the national to the local level will continue to invade our personal and public lives.  The state will tell us what sort of vehicle to drive, what we can say or not say on pain of arrest for offending someone, the lightbulbs we are permitted to buy, whether or not we can drink milk from our own cows; our education system will continue to support illegal immigrants over native born American citizens, our military will be prohibited from fighting wars and the blood of our young men and women will be spilt rather than spill the blood of "innocent" collaborators and supporters of our enemies.

Tighten your helmet straps folks because there are liable to be rounds downrange in our lifetime as the losers and takers continue to demand the redistribution of wealth from the successful and the producers. 

America is a crippled eagle, but she is still an eagle and can be restored to health but it will require good men to do bad things to those that wish to destroy her both from within and without.



Far Rider

In a time when honor holds no sway
There yet remains the code of yesterday

Courage, honor, duty and loyalty
The warriors code from antiquity

For those whose comfort is their only goal
They know not they sacrifice their soul

Who blithely trade their children’s liberty
For the false illusion of security

Chains of slavery shall be their lot
By only sacrifice and blood is freedom bought

When blood and fire consume the land
Hope’s only course is sword in hand

Men of steel that will not bend
Whose love of liberty is their end

When darkness threatens free mankind
Whom but these will stand to the line?

See to your weapons and stand to your horses,
Far Rider

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Wreck at Mile Marker 11

Marker 11
March the second started out well enough. It was the second day of spring training for Far Rider’s four geldings. The previous day’s trail out had gone well and he was hopeful the ride would be a repeat with the exception that it would be longer in time and miles.

The original order of march was maintained. Stryker under saddle, Trooper loaded with the decker, Lancer packing the sawbuck, and Chino as tail gunner with saddle and pannier.

Keeping inside the highway fence on deeded ground, the merry bunch followed the telephone poles as they marched north. At the north west gate, rigs were checked for balance, cinches tightened and they passed out onto the highway right of way. The horses lined out nicely and Caesar took up his customary flanking position between the pack string and the fence line. It was a beautiful day harkening of the spring to come with temperatures in the lower sixties and a stiff breeze out of the west occasionally gusting to over twenty miles an hour. Far Rider was glad for the braided leather stampede string keeping his hat on.

A gray van bearing Iowa tags slowly cruised by with a woman in the rear seat  busily taking photographs of the rider and pack string. Flatlanders for sure. He smiled and waved knowing that for their part it was an unusual sight. A man mounted and leading three pack horses down the roadway is not something many people see, even in the west except in the National Parks and other public lands that have professional outfitters packing hunters and fishermen into what is still called back country.

As the string approached the Hubbell Road cutoff leading northwest across nearly seventy miles of empty country to Saint Johns, Arizona, he noticed that the van had parked about three hundred yards ahead and the occupants were standing outside along the roadway. It was obvious they wanted to chat with what must have appeared to them to be an apparition out of the past. Bypassing the stock gate adjoining Hubbell Road he continued on to meet with them.

The van was parked about thirty yards north of the standardized highway department rectangular, white on green mile marker 11 signpost. Keeping to the right-of-way side of the sign, he eased Stryker up to an older couple and a middle aged woman that looked like she could be their daughter smiing at him and snapping away with their digital camera.

It was then that things unraveled. Stryker, Trooper and Lancer were in line as protocol dictated. Some sixth sense that horsemen develop to compensate for lack of a rear view mirror or eyes in the back of their heads caused Far Rider to twist in his saddle to view the string just in time to see the wreck happen but too late to do anything about it. Chino. Bless his heart.

A word about Chino. He is the youngest of the geldings and also the tallest. If not on a side hill, getting mounted is no small effort. Once up, a nosebleed from the altitude seems imminent. Chino is a cross between Ferdinand the Bull and Ichabod Crane. The Ferdinand side is always looking at butterflys, flowers and anything else that comes within view. He is not a stargazer, but he is definitely off in his own world. Calm and mellow, he takes most things in stride even when he scares himself. Tall and gangly, at times it seems to require most of his attention to get all four of his long legs going in more or less the same direction at the same time. He is smooth, surefooted, willing and sensible. He is a great horse and a pleasure to ride, but at this moment, he was surely in a fix. He hasn’t had that much time bringing up the tail end of a four horse string so the fault had to be laid on Far Rider’s inattention.

Marshal Flats

Chino must have had spied something way out across Marshal Flats to the west and he sort of wandered out of line which put everybody else on the east side of the highway marker, and Chino on the west side. The lead line, tied to the sawbuck on Lancer snapped tight jerking Chino’s head sharply to the right. Lancer, knowing something was not right began to pull forward and poor Chino, having no place to go, does what any sensible horse would do when his face is slammed into a highway sign - he sets up and hauls back for all he is worth. Approximately twenty three hundred pounds of horseflesh is pulling in opposite directions with the highway marker sign bending precariously between them. Lancer is two horses behind Far Rider so there is no way he can reach him to help back him up and take the strain off of the rope. He can’t just get off of Stryker as they are hard on the edge of the pavement with traffic coming from the south and the north. Backing Stryker, Far Rider attempts to move Trooper back up hoping Lancer will also back up. Ha! Not! Lancer moves his hips to the right putting more pressure on the rope that is now bound beneath the marker plate and under his tail. Chino is sitting on his haunches with a look of bewilderment and trying to avoid getting his nose cut off by the sharp edges of the sign. The situation qualifed as a sure enough mess about to turn into a full scale wreck.

The major concern was the integrity of the lead rope. If the sign severed it, Chino would flip over backwards out into the roadway. At this moment, approaching from the north at a good sixty miles an hour, some sort of trendy, bright yellow urban-type vehicle is bearing down on the group of horses and people. A northbound vehicle pulls up and stops between the metal guard rails because Chino is taking up most of the northbound lane. The idiot in the yellow yuppie vehicle, no doubt on his cell phone or texting his hair dresser, sails obliviously through all the commotion. If Chino had flipped over backwards onto the pavement, the blow to his head might have killed or permanently injured him not to mention that if he had fallen into the path of the speeding vehicle there would have surely been a dead horse and maybe dead people in the resulting collision.

Far Rider is neither of a calm disposition, tolerant of fools, nor is he of a forgiving nature. He is convinced that there are an alarming number of homo sapiens that society and modern medicine have made it possible for them to remain among us because they are too stupid to be alive on their own, and they are allowed to remain alive because it is against the law to kill them. On this day however, guardian angels were on duty.

Things were not getting any better and everybody seemed stuck in a freeze frame. Far Rider called to the good folks from Iowa and told them he really needed help and as one might expect from that demographic, they sprang right to the task. Under Far Rider’s direction, the younger woman took hold of Lancer’s lead line and untied it from Trooper’s pack saddle; the gentleman went straight to Chino, and speaking softly, helped extricate the lead line from the sign post as slack was gradually made available. Far Rider dismounted and the other lady held Stryker’s mecate while he moved Trooper further off the roadway.

In the meantime, Caesar had repaired to the fence line and was watching the hullabaloo with a “You have got to be kidding me” look on his big square face.

Turns out, the folks from Iowa were farmers and owned horses. They knew what to do and with the typical calm competence of heartland America, they stepped up to aid a horseman in trouble. All the human participants were in their sixties and that too was no doubt a critical component. Most young people are too self-absorbed and involved with their electronic baby sitting devices to either learn or know anything about life that does not make beeping noises. With the exception of the rural Future Farmers of America (FFA) kids, most have no connection with the natural world, and, sadly, few if any seem to want it as it oftentimes involves heavy and dirty labor.

The fault for the mishap lay with Far Rider. He had not paid sufficient attention to how close he was to the signpost. He made the error of assuming everything would be alright based on the previous days travels in a similar environment. He had failed to add the breakaway twine to the anchor point on the sawbuck because Chino never pulled back from anything, at least not until he had his face banged into a sign.

With all the commotion, Far Rider forgot to give the folks from Iowa a business card and ask for some of the photos they had taken. He would also have liked to have sent them a copy of this story. It was just one of those days.

Hubbell Road Stock Gate

After the van got underway again towards Iowa, Far Rider and crew returned to Hubbell Road and proceeded west. The company was relaxed and subdued and all seemed to be grateful for the relative safety of a seldom travelled dirt road away from the speed and frenetic pace the idiots of urban America seem to thrive on.

A big, black dog, rider, and four good horses were all, each in their own way, thankful for guardian angels and nice people from Iowa.

See to your weapons and stand to your horses,
Far Rider

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Spring Training 2011 Pt I

Old Winter back to the savage hills
Withdraweth his force, decrepid now.

No doubt about it, I am three weeks early to be speaking of spring.  Here in the high desert of west central New Mexico, we usually get a good snow in early April and we had 45 mph winds and an inch an a half of snow two days ago though it quickly melted.  Snow is still on the northern slopes and in the depressions and shady spots in the meadows, but it was 58 degrees today and mostly cloudy but a gorgeous day after the bitter cold of January and February.  There was not near as much snow as last year, but there was enough to hopefully give the land some grass when the weather warms.  It is still cold enough with single digits at night to require a fire almost twenty four seven.

Since October, I have been on the road a lot back and forth to Phoenix doing my "blood and bullets" forensic work on several homicides, a driveby shooting, an assault and a police use of excessive force.  Several other cases are coming down the chute so I need to get back on my horses while I can.  I did not get a leg over a horse for January and February due to the bad weather.

My buddy and farrier, Cody, showed up
from Grants today and put shoes on 

Cody.  A good friend, fine horseman and outstanding farrier
 Stryker, Lancer and Chino.  Trooper goes without shoes as there is no way to get shoes on him except to nail them on when he goes by.  He has great big dinner plate feet and does well without shoes so far.  If and when he needs them, I will have to put the first couple of sets on him contingent upon my surviving the experience.  He is ten years old, powerful and twitchy.  I would not dare to put anybody on his back but I love to ride him because you are damn sure mounted when up on the big guy.

I managed to push myself right up to the edge of pneumonia last week and the doc was glad I showed up for treatment.  Today was my last day on the high speed drugs and I could breathe again so while Cody was putting shoes on the lads, I took Trooper out into the round pen and we spent an hour on ground work and flagging to shake off the cobwebs of winter.  He settled down and I put my new decker pack saddle on him without any problems. 

Lancer & Trooper

After Lancer got his new Adidas on, I brought him into the round pen with Trooper and put the sawbuck on him and let them wander around together commisurating about the misery of going back to work.

As soon as Cody was done and had headed back for Grants, I put a saddle pannier on Chino, my riding saddle on Stryker and let them stand while I grabbed a bit to eat.
"Well, let's go"
At 1430, after getting my string of horses tailed up, I swung up onto Stryker and, as it has for over half a century, the thrill that shivers through my body when I settle into the saddle is pure joy.

Almost two hours later, we followed the horse trail that parallels the drive as we came back home.  After such a long layoff, and the inevitable fractiousness of fresh horses, rather like little boys in church, I am always somewhat astounded that we all arrived home at the same time.

My worst day horseback is better than my best day doing anything else.

Getting sorted out

First trail 2011

Just passin' through

Far Rider
See to your weapons and stand to your horses

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Fragile Circle

Stormy: March 11, 1983 – February 7, 2011.

It was the seventh sunrise of the Moon of the Dark Red Calves (Lakota Sioux Calendar). He had awoken at his customary four-thirty AM from a restless and troubled sleep. After making coffee and getting a fire started, he had settled into his chair and read scenes III – VI of Christopher Marlowe’s Edward the Second. The forensic issues of the death of Edward II aroused his curiosity. Two hours passed and “rosy fingered dawn” caressed the snow covered expanse of Tejana Mesa and the sugarloaf summit of Mesa Tinaja.

Rosy Fingered Dawn

Far Rider shrugged into his chore coat and pulled on lined gloves. The thermometer showed eleven degrees – a big improvement over the minus thirty–nine degrees of the previous week that had caused so much grief for the scattered inhabitants of Catron County located in the rugged expanses of the far western reaches of New Mexico.

 Calling Caesar, he stepped out into the cold, clear air of a beautiful winter day crowned with an azure sky. Weather reports were calling for snow over the next two days beginning sometime after midnight, but the frozen ground assured there would be no benefit from the moisture. Since Christmas, the surrounding mesas and mountains had been covered with a solid blanket of white. There was some clearing on the flats and in the meadows but it was a respite that would soon be broken.

His four saddle horses were standing quietly in their corral and watching him as he picked up his apple picker and sledge hammer to start the first chore of winter days – breaking ice in the drinkers. Looking south towards the alley that separated the arena from the southern corrals and shelters, he could not see any of the three old, geriatric horses in their corral. His heart gave a small erratic thud as the shadow that had dogged him through the night quietly rustled its dark wings.

Stormy leading them home

Stormy, Handy, Stormy's nephew Stryker and his niece, Cimarron in the background

Far Rider leaned the sledge against the side of the frozen drinker and walked into the southeastern corral that provided shelter for the three oldest and crippled horses. Flaxie, the thirty-one year old sorrel mare stood looking absently at him with her tongue hanging out of her mouth. A more pronounced case of horseheimers he had never seen. But, the old girl was healthy, had a great appetite and loved to run with the younger horses out in the remote pastures during the day. We should be so happy. He seemed to recall that Virgil had noted something about the happiness of not knowing how blessed we might be. Handy, the aged appaloosa, stood just under the shelter roof soaking up the early rays of sunshine beginning to creep into the shadows of the covered shelter. Only the tips of the ears of his grand old horse Stormy showed above one of the Malibu walls dividing the shelter into individual stalls. Odd. He stepped into the corral and observed Stormy leaning against an eastern wall supporting himself and taking the weight off of his deformed and crippled left foreleg. As soon as the old horse saw him, his head came up and the huge, liquid eyes lighted and glistened in the early morning light. A fleeting darkness passed through Far Rider’s mind as the reality of what the day held flashed before him.


“Sonofabitch” he quietly swore as he turned away. Lisa would soon be down with the morning feed and would gently care for the old horse as she got him up to the feeder for his breakfast. Telling her it would be his final meal was going to be heartbreaking for them both. Far Rider returned to the drinker and attacked the ice savagely with the sledge as he steeled himself for the darkness of the day ahead.

Morning chores completed, knowing the day would be bitter and long, he ate a spare breakfast though he wasn’t hungry. From the small refrigerator in the saddle shed he retrieved vials of Acepromazine and Dermosedan and brought them into the house to warm them.

Returning to the saddle shed, he pulled his Marlin Model 1895 .357 caliber rifle from the saddle scabbard and made his way up to the Close Quarter Battle Range situated some 200 yards east of the horse facilities. Using a three inch by five inch index card from his pocket, he drew a one inch “X” on it and clamped it to a target frame about eight inches above the ground. Backing up three paces he dry fired on the card several times before levering a round into the chamber. Taking precise aim, he squeezed off the shot. The bullet impacted three quarters of an inch low using the fifty yard zero he had sighted the rifle in for. Using a hold over of three quarters of an inch, he fired three more rounds for effect. All three cut one small hole at the vector of the arms of the “X”.

He returned his rifle to the saddle shed and with a heavy heart walked down to Stormy’s corral. Handy, Stormy’s rangemate for over fifteen years, had already been turned out into the Stormy Pasture while the other horses had filed out to the Shiloh Pasture where Stormy’s sister was buried. Handy, waiting just outside the corral for his buddy nickered a greeting when he saw Far Rider approach.

Stormy: January 2011

Entering the corral, Far Rider retrieved the lead rope from the gate post and found Stormy again leaning against the eastern wall attempting to stay on his feet. Slipping the rope over his horse’s head, he gently and slowly coaxed the once powerful bay horse across the corral and into the pasture that had been named for him. After slipping the loop off Stormys head, Far Rider stroked and spoke softly to the horse that had been his faithful companion for a quarter century. Stormy nuzzled his face and hands with his strong upper lip and breathed deeply drinking in the scent of the man he had carried for so many miles and so many years across the plains, deserts and mountains of their beloved West. Far Riders eyes burned as tears of grief spilled unbidden and he hugged the shaggy neck for what he knew would soon be the last time.

The preceding day, Far Rider had made arrangements with his neighbor to bring a backhoe and dig a grave alongside Shiloh as the weather was soon going to turn and trying to dig a grave suitable for a horse in a snowstorm would make a difficult job maybe impossible. His neighbor had promised to drive his machine over sometime around one o’clock or so. It was strange how the premonition of the bitter duty that lay before him had strengthened over the past week or so. Walking the crippled horse across the corral and into the pasture he had known it would be Stormy’s last walk.

Far Rider brought fresh, rich alfalfa hay and laid it at Stormy’s feet. Handy and Stormy both began munching the hay in the relaxed companionship of old friends. Far Rider turned away, checked his watch and, saw that two hours were all that were left of a full and vibrant life.

He fought the ragged convulsions that made his chest heave as he walked back through the corrals towards the house. With his mind far away and the mantle of grief making him confused, he attended to minor chores as the hands of the clock crept past eleven-thirty. Just as he had known when he saw Stormy leaning against the wall early that morning, too soon he knew that it was time. He picked up the sedatives, syringes and needles nodding to Lisa as he left the house. She turned away sobbing. His last stop was the saddle shed where he retrieved his rifle.

When he returned to the pasture, Stormy was standing alone down in the arroyo sleepily taking the sun as his body teetered and swayed slightly as he struggled to stay on his feet. The left foreleg and the right rear leg were simply no longer up to the task of supporting him any longer. In the space of a day, he had gone from pain that was relieved by the administration of Dexamthazone injections and powdered Phenylbutazone in his feed to a condition of suffering. The price of the joy he had shared with the wonderful horse for twenty four years was now due and the final act of mercy for his faithful friend now fell to Far Rider.

He laid his rifle on a towel along with some baling twine and went up to his horse who greeted him with nuzzles and a desperate plea for relief that was reflected in the great brown eyes. Eyes, always so bright, now looked with sadness and a pleading to “help me now.” Placing his arms one last time around the winter-shaggy neck, Far Rider called upon the God of Abraham to take this, His wondrous creation to where he would find green pastures besides clear water. With the warm breath of his horse on his cheek, he also asked that if it was in His plan, that He would make it possible that they would once again someday be together in a place without such pain and terrible sadness.

Far Rider blew in Stormy’s nose and rubbed his upper gums with his fingertips – something that always gave the horse pleasure and commended his companion into the Hand’s of God.

The lessons hard learned as a Special Operations soldier in places where pain and death were so often dealt with and the similar lessons learned on the ugly streets of south Los Angeles while wearing LAPD blue took over. Grief was put aside, and the mechanics of efficiency and doing what had to be done guided his hands. Filling a syringe with five milliliters of Acepromazine, he quickly found the large vein running down the groove of the neck under the jaw and inserted the twenty gauge needle. Drawing back the syringe, it quickly flooded with bright blood and he pushed the plunger home. Within a few minutes, Stormy was completely relaxed with his head down nibbling at the snow. Far Rider administered another five milliliters of Ace and Storm turned towards him and after Far Rider had caressed his face one final time, the great horse lay down on the side of the arroyo. His breathing was deep and regular and he drifted to a place away from pain as the sky dimmed in the once lustrous eyes. Pulling two pre-loaded syringes of Dermosedan from his coat pocket, Far Rider pushed the chemicals into the blood stream of the now sleeping horse. He loaded the entire five millileter bottle of the same drug and pushed it home hoping it would be sufficient to stop the beating of Stormy’s great heart.

Sitting on the wet, snowy ground in sunshine that was surprisingly warm, Far Rider stroked his horse’s face and watched for his breathing to stop. Stormy began to snore quietly and Far Rider realized the drugs were not going to be enough to stop the mighty heart that continued to push life through the crippled body.

Wrapping the towel around his beloved horse’s head, he tied it in place with the hay baling twine. He placed a small mark on the towel over the center of the horse’s forehead and teetering somewhere between grief and rage, he picked up his rifle.

Within the hour, his neighbor made the grave alongside of Shiloh and put Stormy to rest there beside her. The frozen and muddy ground made for a difficult job and Far Rider thanked God for a neighbor such as Norm.

Authors Note:

During October of last year, I had come to the conclusion that it was time to put Stormy down. I was alone at the ranch and decided that it would be a good time so that the grief of such duty was not shared. I agonized over it for three days as Stormy got progressively worse with his leg seeming to bend further out each day. Mid-morning on the day I had decided I would need to kill my horse, I stepped onto the deck of the saddle shed and knelt down by one of the camp fire ring benches, removed my hat, and asked my God and Creator to please spare my horse for awhile longer.   

Stormy: October 2010

I am not one for asking God for anything for myself. My feeling is that most folks whine to God about every little thing that they ought to step up and take care of themselves. After all, He is God and He sure as hell knows what we need without our telling Him, nor does He need a lecture from the likes of us. I will ask Him for help for other folks and for guidance to save my country from those that would destroy it, and for the protection of our uniformed young men and women in harm’s way on distant shores.

I am hardly a “good” Christian, and asking God for personal favors seems hypocritical and dishonorable. But, I was all out of options and so was Stormy. Even in Viet Nam when facing what I thought were my final moments, I steadfastly refused to pray and ask for God’s assistance because I knew that if I survived, being of an imperfect nature and a son of Adam, that I would return to ignoring God until I needed Him again. Just didn’t seem right to be asking for help when I was not doing my share of following His commandments.

Later that morning, I decided to call my former veterinarian that had recently returned to this country from a move back east and was reestablishing his practice. Two years previously, the veterinarian I had called when Stormy’s sister Shiloh was dying in such agony had given me the sum total of help by saying “Good luck with your horse.” I am not a forgiving man and that is a debt as yet unresolved so I was not about to call that particular practitioner again.

I really did not think there was any hope for such a desperate orthopedic condition, but out of the blue, as I rose from my knees the thought came to me to call Dr. Jack D. Though he is 115 miles away, that is considered nearby in a county that is larger than some eastern states. He had always helped me out years earlier when he was still in this part of the country. He would take the time to talk me through things on the phone and I like his way of handling horses. We spoke about Stormy and he suggested I start him on injections of Dexamthazone. Within 3 days, Stormy was limping around the pasture albeit on a badly deformed leg but with a returned appetite. He would lie in the sun and manage to get back on his feet and his eyes were bright. It was the first time in my life that I felt God had answered a direct request for help. There was no flash of light or thunderclap, no burning bush. The answer arrived in the advice of an educated and trained veterinarian whom also has a profound faith in God as Creator of the magnificent creatures with whom we share this world.

God gave Stormy and I four more months together. Just knowing Stormy was in the corral or pasture made my life better and I thanked God every day for his mercy to Stormy and to me.

Stormy is in a better place now where he can run as he did when we first began our time together. Though a deep and utter sadness grips my heart this night, my life for 24 years was better and will always be better for having shared it with such a magnificent creature and faithful companion.

Upon hearing of the loss of Stormy, a dear friend that raises Rocky Mountain Horses nearby sent me the following beautiful words of comfort penned by poet Irving Townsend and from which the title of this essay is borrowed:

We who choose to surround ourselves with lives
even more temporary than our own
live within a fragile circle, easily
and often breached.
Unable to accept its awful gaps,
we would live no other way.
We cherish memory as the only certain immortality,
never fully understanding the necessary plan.

"The Once Again Prince"
Irving Townsend

See to your weapons and stand to your horses,
Far Rider

Friday, January 14, 2011

Queens of the High Chapparal

Well folks, it has been seven months to the day since I last posted to this blog. Sort of went on strike and just didn't have the motivation.

UPDATE ON SIERRA: She is a permanent resident here on the ranch She and Caesar, the dragon dog, are best buddies and the wrestling begins sometime around 6:00AM when the little princess crawls out from under her blanket and continues throughout the day until well after dark. All eight of her puppies were placed in good homes. One little girl went to Paul and his wife in Tucson and that puppy won the lottery going to them.

The current story:

Murray Springs Trailhead

I had business down in southern Arizona this past week and during my stay, I decided to go and visit a prehistoric archaeological site dating from the last ice age. The site is administered by the BLM and you can go to the link to view photos and read about it.

The archeology of ancient primitive people's sites normally does not interest me, but the Clanton ranch of OK Corral fame can be accessed by a trail that starts from the Murray Springs parking area and that does interest me.

A bit of background:  Years ago, while a young LAPD rookie, I was assigned briefly to a divisional vice unit and onto what was internally called "the fruit detail." In 1969, we were a country still firmly grounded in traditional moral codes and mores. Our standards of behavior were defined by clear boundaries and sexual deviancy was criminally sanctioned. Homosexuality was considered deviant as opposed to the celebrated status it now enjoys. You could not join the military or any government agency that required a security clearance - the proclivities of J. Edgar Hoover notwithstanding - and you certainly could not join a police force.

Things have changed dramatically.  Homosexuals, transgenders and who knows what else are wearing the uniforms of law enforcement.  In the military, the recent removal of the ban on gays is still being sorted out by those within and without the US military. Most of us raised with an older set of values are convinced that the end of the world is probably just around the corner. When we old special operations types get together and the subject comes up, there is unanimous agreement that we are glad we served when homosexuality was not allowed. We had collective fits about the military going to the switch hitters with "don't ask, don't tell", and with the new policy, our conclusion about the matter is that we are damn glad we all got out before the military makes it mandatory.

Homos have been with us since before history. In 1969 there was a very active homosexual community in Los Angeles and certainly Hollywood. But, public displays or solicitations were grounds for criminal prosecution. Lewd and lascivious conduct was the general catch all legal basis for arrest. Homosexuality was worked the same way prostitutes were worked. Undercover officers and stings that frequently amounted to entrapment were common. Because of my very youthful appearance, I was detailed as a "pigeon" for a short time and it was my job to hang around men's restrooms, parks and other known locations of homosexual activity. I waited until I was propositioned, elicited an articulated account as to what was to happen, how much money was to be exchanged, if any, and waited for a legally approved overt action towards the commission of the crime. Then, on signal, the backup, overwatch officer would come in and an arrest would be effected. It was a sordid business, and to a ranch raised kid out of east central Idaho and northern Nevada, it was an eye opening experience. It also provided the most hilarious incidents of my tenure with the LAPD. Stuff for another time.

My background has thus provided me with an observational skill set that is alerted by the subtle and the not so subtle behaviors and markers that indicate homosexual presence or activity.

The Scene

As I pulled into the trail head parking area, a real JDLR (just doesn't look right) set of circumstances was evident. The trail head restroom is a small block building approximately twelve feet square containing a single unit. On either side of the restroom, parked in such a manner as to be able to observe the narrow dirt road coming in and the trail head itself, but blocked from each other's view were two vehicles. Each vehicle was parked backed in so that no plates were visible. Each vehicle was occupied by a single, white, adult male. Something isn't right here. Dope or human smugglers would have been perfectly understandable in that part of the country. But, damn. Homos in the cat claw? What is the desert coming to?

Now, my personal feelings about homosexuality are that it is deviant and disgusting behavior, particularly in the raw physical mechanics of the relationships. My visual exposure to their antics over 40 years ago as a young vice officer are images not easily erased. However, what consenting folks want to do in privacy is of no concern to me. I could care less. Weirdos. And, it beats the ragheads doing donkeys and goats, but not by much.

I exited my vehicle, made sure my Glock .40 S&W was in place under my vest and that my backup weapon was also available. Locking my rig, I wandered towards the trail head. I had proceeded down the trail 30 yards or so and was screened by the chaparral and mesquite when I heard vehicle doors opening about ten seconds apart. I must be looking better than I thought. I turned down a fork in the trail to where an interpretive plaque was placed alongside a bench. It allowed me to turn and face back up the trail in a neutral position but where I had the advantage of using the bench and the plaque as a blocking mechanism if need be. I assumed a benign position of apparently reading the interpretive information, placed my left hand on the backup in my pocket and, using the advantage of my sunglasses and slouch hat, watched my back trail.

Sure enough, here comes suspect number one. He was a sort of Baby Huey type. He stood well over six feet, in his early 40s, fat and soft. No doubt a favorite on the local scene. These folks have to have some degree of sensitivity to their environment and the people in it as it can be hazardous. This is still mostly cattle and mining country. A demographic that will take a very intolerant and unenlightened direct action approach to homosexual activity. I made eye contact with Baby Huey when he was about fifteen feet away and he immediately recognized that I am definitely a pitcher not a catcher. He sidled over to the far side of the rather narrow trail and continued on. I'm sure he was thinking how inconvenient it was to have to continue the charade and go look at a bunch of rocks where cavemen hung out 13,000 years ago rather than immediately returning to his vehicle. Who knew what opportunities he might miss? As he passed, I know a bemused look crossed my face which added to his consternation, disappointment or both. I also noted that the left ear piece to his sunglasses was missing.

Two minutes later, along comes suspect number two. He is a nice looking man, about my age, with beautiful silver hair, and an obviously very expensive haircut. He was trim and dressed in layered clothing as it was a mere sixty degrees down there and the folks in that part of the country thought another ice age was approaching. I noted his long underwear shirt had little roses or some such thing on it and he wore a fine gold chain around his neck. And a brave one was he, or really steamed up. He approached to within normal American social distance and attempts to engage me in conversation. He was an educated and successful fellow based upon his syntax. Because of his outer clothing, I'll call him Red Shirt.

I was dressed in field clothes: camouflaged bdu trousers, black bdu top, black cotton vest, hiking boots, dark glasses and my old, battered and stained canvas "go to hell" Indiana Jones type hat. I was travel worn with a weeks growth of beard. I looked a bit rough and was certainly not going to win a GQ award or turn the heads of the ladies. Just my luck. Some nice old queen decides I am just the ticket.

Red Shirt begins to query me about where I was from, etc. I don't answer many questions even from folks that I like so I immediately claimed that I had a hot date that was getting off work in the mid-afternoon. Not to be dissuaded, and apparently thinking I had not noticed, he removes his sun glasses and shows me that the left ear piece is missing. Well, what do you know. The local "recognition" signal for the Murray Springs homos. I have seen the colored handkerchiefs strategically placed in different pockets to advertise various acrobatic specialties, particular types and placement of ear rings, denim on denim dress, pant leg rolled up shorter than the other, certain types of bracelets, a system of coughs and toe taps, etc. over the years as a means for these perverts to recognize one another. But taking a perfectly good pair of sun glasses apart was a new one for me.

I suspect that by now, if they have gotten this far, most of my Progressive acquaintances, and probably my one Progressive friend, have their nickers in a bunch due to my descriptive language. Allow me to point out that most of the gay folks I have known and become friends with would make better neighbors than a good many of the church going folks I know. So, give it a rest, calm down and eat some fruit or something.

I made my excuses to Red Shirt and departed with the cheeks to my bottom squeezed very tightly together - just in case.

After my patrol, I returned to the parking lot and only Red Shirt remained. As I was unlocking my rig, he came up and asked if I "would give him a jump." WHAT? Good grief.

"My battery is dead" he explained .

Whew. I thought I was going to have to defend my honor, not to mention my bottom.

I dragged out cables, got him started and he politely offered to pay me. I countered with my common response of "you do somebody else a favor some day and it all works out."

He went into great detail as I was hooking up the cables about how his "girlfriend" was "at the doctor's for an hour long appointment", etc., etc. I must have "stupid" written on my forehead. We are at least half an hour from Sierra Vista, and he had been there 2 hours since I had arrived. I think he got nervous when I took my vest off and my Glock and spare magazine was visible along with my ID, which I wear around my neck and has my driver's license and Concealed Weapon Permit showing in the window (hopefully, it will keep some idiot cop from shooting me if I am in the middle of an event where guns are present). Some folks think anybody with ID around their neck is some sort of cop.

It was apparent that Red Shirt was a nice fellow. A queer. But, a nice queer. The behavior of homosexuals is still stigmatized in western culture (unless you are in the arts or living in California). Their social behavior is often a product of self-loathing and guilt. Has to be a hell of a way to go through life.

I am familiar with all of the biological and medical model explanations for homosexuality, but the jury is still out in that regard. My problem is that alcoholism, drug abuse, pedophilia, wife beating, beastiality are or have been advanced as being cause for the abandonment of criminal or social sanctions. The restrictions on free speech, the nonsense of hate crimes where folks are punished for what they think rather than what they do has had a deleterious affect upon the very basis of our individual liberty. That, in and of itself, is sufficient for me to be opposed to any mitigation of moral, criminal, or social sanctions for any of the behaviors described above. I don't have the answer and I am not going to join the Pink Pistols anytime soon, but I do feel a twinge of sympathy for anyone that has to carry a burden of unhappiness.

See to your weapons and stand to your horses,
Far Rider

Monday, June 14, 2010

Dynamite R.I.P.

It seems that of late there have been many mishaps resulting in the loss of good horses. For me, the passing of a noble steed is truly a cause for grief. The following piece was written by my close friend and arch intellectual adversary, Lisa Blessing, a local Rocky Mountain Horse breeder. Check out their website by clicking on the link for Rocky Mountain Horses on the left side of this page under Horse Links. Our sympathies go to Lisa and Ken on the loss of this wonderful horse.


When Dynamite stepped out of Leroy Reed’s Ohio trailer in Chelan, he was a leggy, wide eyed 4 year old away from home for the first time. He had his pregnant dam for company and they were our first Rockies, far from their familiar flatlands of the Midwest. In short order, Dynamite was drafted into our pack string and discovered steep peaks and life in the backcountry. Bewildered but willing, he learned to tote loads, spend his nights on highlines and cross streams swollen with early snow melt off. Over time, he graduated to my riding horse.

Doing what he was born to do
Dynamite was stout hearted, more than able to pirouette on steep switchbacks, hug the uphill on tiny trails with deep dropoffs and hang around the camp on his days off usually wandering over to stick his head under the tarp to see what was cooking on the roll top table. In all his backcountry travel, only once did he experience something he had difficulty handling. We were almost at the end of a long wooden causeway built over deep mud when rotten planks collapsed and we fell thru them into the deep mud. Terrified and caught by the bridge sinking into chest deep mud, he fought his way up and out, but forever after distrusted any footing made of wood. Rather sensible, under the circumstances.

Despite having a mostly affable disposition, he rose thru the ranks to become our herd leader ruling with the flick of an ear, cock of a hoof, swish of a tail. He never found it necessary to use more aggressive measures no matter the unruly youngsters passing thru his pasture. Everyone just accepted his position.

Whenever one of our mares foaled—always spurning their plush foaling stalls preferring the earth in their paddocks—he was a sentinel standing motionless on his side of the fence as close as he could get until the foal was out on the ground and then he would quietly wander away.

He was our go-to guy to ease just started young horses out and about in the great beyond. His mellow presence calmed the myriad fears of the youngsters so they could start to concentrate on becoming a trail horse. And he was our hospitality horse, carrying many a guest and family member over hill and dale as these camping pictures attest.

Last year he was diagnosed with high ringbone and has been gimpy on and off despite shots and laser therapy. Still, he seemed happy enough wandering around until yesterday afternoon. His behavior was odd, not eating much, standing around. When we pulled him out to see what was going on, we found his pupils widely dilated and realized he was blind. He also was unable to smell and we had to hold his feed to his lips for him to be able to find it. Our vets said that he must have suffered either a stroke or an aneurysm, either occurrence incredibly rare in the equine world.

Today, with a prick of the needle, he slipped his halter and left this harsh high desert country. I see him happy in meadows of belly deep sweet grass alongside crystalline streams, shaded by heavily laden apple trees. It is where he belongs, but more than his paddock is horribly empty.


In Green Pastures