Like, Totally Awesome

Patty Wilber  

The metal sign is painted white and “Brazos Box Ranch” had been cut out.  


Between Tabooli’s ears, a meadow reaches out in front of me. Green aspen and blue spruce mingle on the slope to the east. Black angus-cross mama cows and their calves graze near the bunkhouse.  The two red mares, Squirt the yellow filly, and the old gelding have perked up.  

The bunk house and cows, as seen from the gate.


The mares call to T. and ol’ loud mouth yaks back while I work the gate. Would have be easier if he was focusing on the gate WITH me.  

It has been 16 miles of hard up hill and jog-trotting to get here and reality has surpassed my imagination. When does THAT happen?  

The ranch is at 9,000+ feet and access is difficult due to the steep grade of the dirt road. A 4-wheel drive is needed to pull a trailer in, and I don’t have one.  

Plan A was: I’d  drive to Buckman Road, leave my truck at a  friend’s, and have my trailer hauled in. We got the trailer hitched and parked my truck. But, the old blue ranch truck fell ill, overheated, barfed up radiator fluid and could not  manage the trailer.  

Plan B. Leave my truck and trailer. Peter (T’s dad and my host) will drive Ol’ Blue, and I’ll ride Tabooli in. A little daunting, but… hey! It is a nice afternoon. I have my high fashion rain gear with (I was just in the Pecos, you know!) and I am not one to turn down an opportunity to ride in the mountains.  

Ol’ Blue cooled off.  We wiped his brow, and dabbed his radiator fluid stained chin.  Blue roared (muffler is off) then putted up the road and out of sight (and earshot, thank goodness).   I mosied along .  When I caught up, Blue had gone from sick to…dead.  

Plan C. I’ll keep riding. Peter will walk, once again, back to my truck, call a tow truck for Blue and drive my Dodge.  

If this had been my real life, right after Plan A went down, my stress levels would have skyrocketed and flames would have begun shooting out of my nose. Many hours would have been ruined. BUT! In this awesomely alternate universe, I was completely unfazed. Not my truck! Not my problem! I’ve got the horse!  It is all good!  

 T. and I climbed out of the ponderosa and scrub oak, into the apsen and spruce. Aspen are sensuous trees. Long white trunks crowned by rounded emerald leaves that dance in the breeze. Sunlight dapples through onto the grasses beneath. The perfect spot to …  

Too bad I don’t write romance novels.  

After riding about 8 miles I heard the thrum as my diesel approached. Would I like to drive? Hmmm.  It’s not my horse…But I AM the trainer. Nope. Happy riding! THIS is the life.  

Next morning after coffee (that I didn’t have to make) at sunrise on the porch  (yep, this IS the life), we loaded up my truck with fencing materials. The fence to be mended is a 3-wire  “lay down” or “let down” fence. It will have T-posts every 16 feet with 3  foot aspen or spruce “stays” that attach to the barb-wire and then are wired to the T-posts. In between the T-posts are more stays.  At the end of the cattle season, the stays at the T-posts are unhooked, and the fence is laid down. This keeps the snow and the elk from trashing the fence. In the spring, the fence can be set back up.  


I carried stays, and helped true the H-brace, but I just didn’t feel all that great. The altitude? Doubtful. I live at 6800 and was up this high just last weekend…  

I felt worse after lunch, so took a short rest…felt a little better. Had the chance to tour the ranch via horseback and I wasn’t going to miss that, even if the chips and guacamole left my gut and  ended up all over my horse.  

Tabooli has about 40 saddles (rides).  Peter rode him and T.  settled down quickly.  He didn’t balk at water or mud. When 35 elk streamed down the slopes of an ancient volcanic crater  into a marsh, he was interested but not afraid. When a buck in velvet and 2 does ran parallel to us through the dark spruce and pale aspen (it was like being IN a wildlife movie), he just looked. He pushed (moved) cows and was relaxed.  He listened.  He tried.  He looked happy. He was a little clod-footed in spots and he used his voice WAY too much when we came up the valley toward the mares, but I was really happy with him. All that in scenery to die for. Perfect.  

Sat down for dinner (grilled elk steak!) and I started to feel crappy again. Lo and behold, the pilot light was not lit in the oven. Lit that. Felt lots better, fast.  

It rained and a double rainbow appeared. Saw a bear across the meadow. The mares and Squirt were lit up in the post-rain light.  How much longer can I stay, again? Until the first snowfall?  


Had to ride out the next day–having a job and all. I ponied the old gelding down (since Peter had to drive my truck out and then ride back in). It was Tabooli’s first go at ponying. He did it like it was old hat. The ride took over 3 hours. Good thing, because if I had come down fast, I might have hit reality too hard and broken into pieces.  



About BlogPatty

Here's the skinny: I have a thing for horses. They make sense to me. I have a small horse training business (it's a "boutique" training business, not because it's super fancy, but because the horses get a lot of personal attention). I also go by Dr. Wilber, and teach biology full-time at a Central New Mexico Community college.
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8 Responses to Like, Totally Awesome

  1. Doranna says:


  2. Patty says:

    off to california this evening!

  3. Joan says:

    You weren’t kidding when you said the ranch was ‘heaven’. What fabulous pics, loved the blog too! so…. when can you start inviting friends for the weekend, free labor?

  4. Elizabeth says:

    Wow…that sounds heavenly.

  5. Jackie Splinter says:

    Wow…wow..and wow! You are amazing! This adventure sounds amazing! Talk about lving out your dreams! I’m so happy for you!! Thanks for sharing. hugs, Jackie

  6. Patty says:

    Hi Joan–the 1000 acres right next door is for sale! Want to go in on it?!

    Hi Elizabeth, I have to say, it was out of this world, for sure!

    Hi Jackie! Thanks. It was a FABULOUS adventure!

  7. Maria BB says:

    I truly love your descriptions….you really should write…romance or just horse novels 🙂 thanks for painting such beautiful pictures with words… what ever will you say re your upcoming trip to LA???? Maria

  8. BlogPatty says:

    Thanks Maria! I am sort of dreading all the driving involved to LA and then delivering some horses and then off to Montana!

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