I have been doing quite a bit of back-country riding into the mountains surrounding our log cabin. It is located just minutes away from the Idaho-Montana border and the continental divide. I usually keep cattle on my place as well as horses, but have had to trim back on the cattle this year owing to my father's on-going battle with cancer. He has been my right-hand man over the years, but not now. So, we enjoy the horses. Last Friday, Dad was feeling up to a ride after two months of chemo and the subsequent recovery. I took him up to a place we had not been before about ten miles away from the cabin as the crow flies. I won't say where because I'd like to keep it private, but it looks a whole lot like the Canadian Rockies. The trail is good for the most part, though it is a steady uphill climb from the valley floor. In the upper reaches, it gets rocky, steep and slick. You need good sure footed horses experienced in high mountain travel to make it to the end of the trail. Our horses deliver. I was riding my blue eyed bay, a "paint that ain't" that I broke and trained myself. He is six now and is such a prize animal. I wrote this poem when he was just a colt. Although he has thrown me a handful of times in the past, at present he is everything I ever wanted in a saddle horse - and them some. My efforts in breaking and training him have been well compensated. By the way, Dad made the ride just fine on my half draft / half paint horse Rory and was no worse for the wear - despite the rugged country we covered. (See photo below.) This poem is about gifts - I will be eternally thankful to my father for the gift of horesemanship he so freely gave me. The top photo is of me and my blue-eyed bay at trails end last Friday. Target is wearing my favorite hand made slick-fork saddle.
by Paul Kern
We did some horse tradin' just after the molt,
Kirby got old Dan and me - an unbroke colt,
When I first handled him he lingered to stay,
This was a real good sign for the blue eyed bay.
Still only a yearlin' he wasn't much use,
I just wanted a horse that'd had no abuse,
To get one I'd have to break him my way,
We'd get along fine, me and this blue eyed bay.
Months of workin' him and sackin' him out,
One step at a time each day left no doubt,
He was a good one and had a good place to stay,
I was startin' out fine with my blue eyed bay.
It took five bouts of buckin' 'fore I hit dirt,
When he finally threw me just my pride was hurt,
That was the last time he'd toss a rider away,
It all came together for my blue eyed bay.
Months passed, he grew and he learned each gait,
But to lope with a rider he preferred to wait,
It would come out in time but in his own way,
He was movin' out fast now - my blue eyed bay.
He loped first on the trail on an uphill swell,
That November mornin' it was clear as a bell,
There was more to come I could easily say,
I'd be gettin' there soon with my blue eyed bay.
A horse worth ownin' has to give satisfaction,
A good head, soft eye and a whole lot of action,
You can get all this if you're willing to pay,,
Most horses keep a' givin' like my blue eyed bay.
One holiday mornin' in the soft arena dirt,
A loose rein, no spurs and no need for a quirt,
He picked up his leads and loped circles each way,
This, a true gift from my blue eyed bay.
Now in that same spirit at any time of the year,
True gifts are those given in love without fear,
They come from the heart and in their own way,
So, here's to you - from me and my blue eyed bay!
Reese Kern - 86 and still a horseman