The trip we took last week into Marvel Lake was great! I enjoy nothing more than getting back into the mountains on horseback. There is something good for the soul about separating one's self from the constant clatter of everyday life, and enjoying the sound of your horse's hooves clip-clop while travelling down a mountains trail. My mind goes back to a simpler time…
For the most part, I am a traditionalist. I embrace the old ways, and my gear shows it. My saddles are made of leather, wood, and rawhide. My reins are made of leather and horse hair. I get as much of my equipment custom-made as possible, and I don’t mind paying that bit extra for the quality. Good, hand-made gear will outlast mass-produced tack, always. And I enjoy the craftsmanship and artistry.
There is something about using quality, hand-made pieces of equipment. When speaking of my gear, a Winston Churchill quote comes to mind… “My tastes are simple. I am easily satisfied with the best.” What can I say? I like to ride nice horses, with nice gear, doing traditional cowboy work - cutting, ranch roping, packing, and so on.
Most of what I hold dear comes from the past. Growing up studying Charlie Russel's paintings and reading the adventures of old-time cowboys and buckaroos. I was under the impression that all these old-time cowboys were top-hands, riding well-trained horses, and doing their jobs in a skillful fashion. Now, I’m not saying that there weren’t some, or many, mighty handy twisters back then. But they darn sure weren’t all that way.
As I got older and started to travel more, I became aware that just because you grew up in real “cowboy country” didn’t necessarily make you handy.
Back in the day, how handy you were with a horse largely depended on how handy your family and neighbours were. Back then, people didn’t travel around as much as they do today. So, where you acquired your knowledge and skill was limited to who you were around daily. If you were lucky, you had good teachers, but if your circle lacked talent, then you were at a disadvantage from the start. Some folks could rise above that and become great hands through applying their own theory, trial & error, and listening to the horse. But that was not always the case.
So, as much as I yearn for the past, for the “good old days”, I can sure appreciate how fortunate we are today in our newfound ability to gain knowledge. If you have the desire to better yourself, your horsemanship, or any other skill, the information is now literally at your fingertips. As my brother, Mark once said to my daughter Shelby, “if your phone is in your hand, there’s no reason for you not to know.”
I was reading an article the other day that mentioned that there is more technology built into your phone than there was in the spacecraft that went to the moon in 1969. That’s truly amazing to me!
Now with your phone or computer, you can acquire the knowledge that, in the past, only a lucky few were able to attain. Now what you do with it is up to you. Seeking and finding the information is only half of the equation, implementing it is the other half. It's in the implementation that the magic happens.
As much as I believe there were some outstanding hands in the days gone by, I believe there are even more great hands today than ever. Because of the accessibility of the knowledge of those who came before them.
So when I struggle to tie a knot, and can’t quite remember how it goes, I’m reminded by my daughters to just go to my phone and “YouTube it.” I guess modern-day technology isn’t so bad after all.
- Keith J Stewart
I’m both impressed and inspired daily by our Cowboy Campus community and their drive and desire to learn more and be the best horseman they can become. Now that’s a group of folks who know they can find the answers to their questions online!
If you’d like to join me on YouTube, you can! Find Cowboy Campus on YouTube here → https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUZ0Rc2-y1OF1CFY0MkRlEw