Horse Geology?  ~Steve McClure (Reno)

(Bear with me, I promise I’ll link the two together)

My love of geology was born in the West. It so happens that my particular interest is in bedrock geology. In Wisconsin, we live on the ancient stable craton which is often covered by glacial fill and the bedrock is therefore covered. The West, however, reads like the Rosetta Stone of bedrock history.  Even now when I drive out I am still riveted as the continent’s margins and its active geology are continually exposed. As I travel towards its western edge younger and not yet eroded, mountain ranges appear on the horizon and when I first saw Yellowstone in the 50’s the theory of continental drift was not really accepted and the hot spot that forms the Yellowstone caldera was only speculation. Heck they thought the Moon’s craters were volcanic! Dang I’m old!

My love of horses and the West came from my Mother. As a child I begged to ride a horse any chance I got. I’m a city boy but on any trip, near or far, I looked for stables. As a married adult my wife, Pam and I rode whenever we could. Nose to tail trail rides or a straight rental, we didn’t care. We went out West when we could afford it and had some great rides. I never had any formal lessons and I knew this would eventually pose a problem.

On a cruise stop in the Yucatan Pam and I booked a horseback excursion offered by the cruise line. We left on a small bus and traveled endlessly to get to the stable. I was getting a bit uneasy especially when the driver began to to pick up folks along the road, some of whom were carrying live chickens and I’m the dork in the back dressed in shorts and a “worlds best grandpa” T shirt. It also doesn’t help to see uniformed soldiers carrying automatic weapons with razor wire at various intersections along the way.

I sure didn’t know where I was but concentrated on the fact that the Yucatan Peninsula was next to the site of the asteroid impact crater (Chicxulub) that wiped out the dinosaurs sixty million years ago. See that’s that geology thing again.

We finally pulled into a stable, of sorts, and were off loaded. Mercifully the chicken folks went on with the van. There was a fully decked out Vaquero on his trick horse doing various maneuvers in the center of a clearing. That horse was sitting and laying down as well as rearing up all on command. That vaquero had more silver on his rig than the Denver mint. We were met by a number of wranglers who led us to our horses.

All our wranglers looked cowboy enough except that they were all wearing tight black polyester pants and that bothered me. Man it was hot. This was the jungle. What was it, a uniform? I didn’t know that they made pants like that anymore nor, in my opinion, should they.

We got on our horses and finally rode out. We passed through a lot of jungle and a few clearings at both a walk and a trot. We stopped at some ancient ruins and thankfully one of the wranglers spoke English and explained their meanings. I had a suspicion that some of the ruins had been nothing but relocated stones and more were recent recreations of ancient artifacts. It’s was kind of like the “Wonder Spot” at the Wisconsin Dells. What a miracle to just happen have a “gravitational anomaly” conveniently and precisely located on a busy corner at the upper Midwest’s biggest vacation Mecca. But I didn’t care. It was vacation and I was on a horse.

One of the wranglers kept riding abreast of Pam and “in my opinion” was kind of hitting on her. As we approached the end of the ride he asked her if she wanted to canter. Now I know that as a horse sees home after a ride it doesn’t take much to encourage a faster gear. Well she picked up the canter and he and my wife took off. My horse naturally wanted to follow so off we went. My wife did fine but I didn’t know how to ride the canter so I’m grabbing leather and I remember thinking right then that if I get home (which was questionable at that point) I’m going to learn how to ride!

When we arrived at the stable and dismounted the vaqueros quickly whisked Pam into the Cantina to buy her a cerveza. Are you kidding me! I’ve got fourteen vaqueros bent on stealing my wife and I have no idea where I am. I’ll be murdered, buried, (or the reverse which is really bad) and my wife will be … well I didn’t want to think about it. To distract me they kept urging me to watch the damn trick horse. Undeterred I finally demanded to know where she was and we were grudgingly reunited. Everyone was yapping about having some more cerveza but I sure wasn’t going into that cantina. Adding to my concern was a sneaking suspicion that Pam was not totally against the idea of having a few more beers with the boys! Damn, she’s turning on me and now I am totally alone. I’m an American in Mexico and there are monkeys jabbering in the trees. Cruise ship companies don’t care about me. They are registered in, like, Libya! What’s one more missing gringo to Col. Muammar Gaddafi (now deceased)?

Mercifully the van did arrive and squealed to a stop in a cloud of dust. It was all I needed. All the wranglers began to check out the next group of customers getting off. I used this distraction to separate her from her admirers and when the opportunity arose I quickly shoved her aboard. We hunkered down all the way on the trip back to the ship. What a guy will do to catch a ride on a horse! That was definitely my last cruise but not my last ride.

Around the turn of the century (boy that sounds weird) my wife and I sold our house in Milwaukee (Greenfield to be precise) and moved out to Waterford, WI. We were fortunate that my son and his wife also moved to Waterford and ended up about two blocks from us. My daughter-in-law, Liz, mentioned a stable close by on Hwy. 20 just west of town. I jumped at the chance to finally start my lessons. Thus began my long association with Jennifer Gaudes-Raemisch at Sun Fire Stables, my mentor for all things equine.

 ~Steve McClure (Reno)

To read more by Steve McClure (Reno)--see below.

Insights by Steve -- Working Together

Insights by Steve -- The Circle

Insights by Steve -- Natural Horseman

Insights by Steve -- I Can't

Insights by Steve -- Saddle Tracks

Insights by Steve -- Harmony and Horsemanship

Insights by Steve -- Sherwin

Insights by Steve -- Hobbling

Insights By Steve -- Roping Practice

Insights By Steve -- Support

Insights By Steve -- Sensei

Insights by Steve - Harmony

Insights by Steve-Centered in the Now