Any person who has spent some time around horses knows how many different personalities a horse has. A good horse person has learned to watch for body language in their horse. A horses eyes and ears can speak volumes! The Vee Bar herd of horses is made up of about 35 unique, individual personalities. A person who takes the time to observe them in the meadows will see that they have a well-established pecking order. Size does not necessarily dictate dominance. Take Coco for instance. He’s one of the shortest, fattest horses in the herd and he’ll take a minute to boss any big horse around. Little does his young rider know, Coco spends most of his time subtly cutting other horses off when out on a ride. The wranglers on the rides can tell when an enemy horse is moving in on him–at a walk he’ll gradually start veering over to cut the horse off! Little kids riding Coco don’t even know that Coco is up to something. Then, take Waylon, our Belgian draft horse. He came into the herd a couple years ago. Although he was only about 12 at the time, he immediately buddied-up with the geriatric group of horses ranging in age from 17-25 years. He walks at their pace–slow and steady. Not much excites him and he seems all the wiser for it. The geriatric group, plus Waylon, spend their time in the meadows far from all the other horses. In the corral with the rest of the horses, they have their own corner where the younger horses leave them alone. Outside of that small space, they often get chased or picked on by others.
Then there are horses like Black Jack. This horse has so much personality that it bubbles right out of him! He is a very playful horse. Although we don’t know much about his history, he seems to be a Thoroughbred / draft horse cross. He is a tall, beautiful grey horse with a long, thick, shaggy mane and forelock. He likes riders who will let him run a bit faster so he can be at the front of the group. When tied at the hitching rail he busies himself by chewing on the end of the lead rope until he’s untied and freed himself. He has ruined many lead ropes this way. Many of the lead ropes have a nice green grass stain from Black Jack chewing on them. When he unties himself, he usually just stands in place and waits for somebody to tie him up again. Guests are not allowed to give him treats while tied to the rail because soon he’s trying to get in every pocket as it walks by! When in the corral, he picks up feed buckets, balls, wood, and whatever else he can get his teeth on and throws them around. If he’s lucky another horse will come to play with him and they will each grab a side of a rubber feed pan with their mouth and start pulling. Who knew horses could play tug-o-war!?
The “big dudes” are a group that have priority in the corral. They stand in the small bit of shade in the corral and three of them hang their head in the barn door to keep cool, and to keep flies off. It’s obvious that they get along because their three big heads take up the entire door and none of them care. Moose, Sam, and Charger have posed for many pictures, stood for many pats, and entertained many wranglers and guests, looking in on a days work in the barn.
While the “big dudes” are pampering themselves in the shade and hogging the attention, others, like Fritz, are like hidden gems in a forest. Every ranch has one (and probably only one) “perfect” horse. Anybody can ride him, he never spooks, he takes perfect care of the rider on his back, and is generally the safest horse a person could possibly ride. Fritz is the Vee Bar’s perfect horse. He is almost taken for granted because he never needs extra attention–he’s just there to happily do his job. Many riders on his back don’t even know how well-behaved Fritz really is. Sometimes people talk about horses and other pets that have special intuition. Fritz seems to know how good his rider is. With a six-year-old little girl he takes tiny steps and creeps up and down hills. With a young boy eager to cut loose, Fritz is one of the fastest in the group. He’ll run with his head held high and his tail blowing in the wind. The one thing Fritz really loves is to barrel race. In fact, when it comes to barrel-racing, he doesn’t really care who is on his back. With a young person who doesn’t want to go fast, the wranglers have to make sure Fritz starts at a slow pace; then he’ll finish at a slow pace. The rider doesn’t even really have to steer him, so even a six-year-old trotting the pattern could do much better than many of the adults. But, when somebody wants to win the barrel racing event at the gymkhana, all they need to do is give him one kick and he’ll run the pattern all by himself–and pretty fast, too!
The Vee Bar wranglers get to know each horse’s personality, and it is one of the most interesting parts of the job. Horses have a very intelligent mind and very different personalities. It’s no wonder guests establish such a close relationship with their horse while they are visiting the Vee Bar. Although the horses are at the ranch to do a job, the wranglers and horses end up taking on a role similar to a child with their parent. As a wrangler, you feel like you know the horses so well that you take pride in the work that they do and the riders that they satisfy. Likewise, it is a huge disappointment when they act up, act out of character, or develop bad habits when you know they know better! Often times, when potential clients call to learn about the Vee Bar, their questions revolve around the horses and the riding program. We take pride in our horses–their personalities, their condition, and their mentalities. We are able to offer a versatile riding program because we know our horses and we know how to find the right ones for our guests. We look forward to the day when you get to meet our herd! If you are interested in making a reservation, call our office at 800-483-3227 or visit our website www.veebar.com. See you on the trails!