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12 February, 2009

Al and the local ranchers

Al was an a rab, as the local ranchers called him. They all had quarter horses and Al was an outlyer. Al and I were tested on many occassions to see if this a rab could cut it with the cowboys and their quarter horses.

Most of the exposure of Al to the neighbors was during cattle drives which usually took 3 days. That was 3 days to get them to their summer grazing pasture or 3 days to return them to their home ranch after the summer grazing somewhere else.

One day at the end of a very dry summer, which means the cattle were spread through out the 1000's of acres where they were grazing, Al and I were asked to join one of the locals who was riding a sure footed mule and to go into the back country of the forest to find some of the cattle. I'm sure Al and I were chosen to join the mule and his rider to test whether Al would make the trips up and down the steep slopes, across the streams, along the trails with sharp fall offs, and through the trees, shrubs, and brush.

After 8 hours of visiting the forest terrain, we had accumulated 7 cattle. These 7 cattle were taken to a common meeting place where the others on the cattle drive were told to take their cattle as well. The cattle would spend the night at this point of accumulation. Hopefully we had collected all of this ranchers cattle and tomorrow we would start the drive back to their home ranch.

We took our horses to a small pasture for the night and we, the ranchers and I gathered around the pick-up truck that had the coolers with the cold beer. This was the custom to celebrate the days work. We had hardly opened our can of beer, when the questions starting coming to my ranching companion for the day. Doug, how did Clint and Al do today. The answer they got as not what they expected.

Doug said, "they didn't miss a step, went everywhere that the mule and I went, and in fact went many places that I had trouble getting the mule to go".

This was just one of many experiences where Al earned the respect of the ranchers and started to gain the praises of the quarter horse owners.

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