June 20th- No longer afraid of horses

By Pat

It’s amazing how going without for a couple of days can make one of life’s simple pleasures so delightful – this morning I had a gloriously hot shower  ALONE!  What joy! I knew that it was going to be a very good day.

Linda had given out our work assignments the night before so I knew that Matt, Garry and I were scheduled to do gardening the following day at the CDC.  However, it turned out that only Matt, Carita, and I went to garden as Garry was recruited to stay back at Head Start and help demolish the kitchen.

We actually drove around a bit first trying to find our work assignment and supervisor. No one seemed to be answering their cell phones but true to form, Kelsey who was riding shot gun next to driver Linda scanned the horizon and yelled, “There she is! Follow that red car!”  So off we went after the red car and found  Sherri who knew where we were supposed to be – the green house with the garden next to it that has no street address because there are no street signs.  We knew that because that is where one of our crews earlier in the week had dug rocks and tilled the hard soil getting it ready for planting.

We took advantage of their hard grueling labor and spent an enjoyable next couple of hours helping a group of third grade students and their teachers plant a summer vegetable garden.  When we first arrived I scanned the group of excited 8-9 year olds, who were busy digging random holes here and there and swinging about hoes and rakes uncomfortably close to each others heads and wondered if anything would actually be accomplished. However, there was method to the chaos and with a great deal of excited laughter and happy chatter  a garden actually emerged – rows of tomato, cucumber and summer squash plants, corn seedlings and radishes.  It helped that we had a veteran garden planner leading the project. She had brought yards and yards of mesh garden netting to cover the ground and contain the weeds. Karita and I helped a group of girls spread out the netting, poke openings in it and dig the holes for the plants.  Looking over to the opposite side I saw Matt hoeing up piles of dirt into  mounds and planting the corn seedlings with a couple of boys.

All finished, we sat back on our heels and surveyed our beautiful garden before gathering everyone together for a group picture.

We had a relatively relaxed afternoon.  Matt and I left for the pool at 2:30 along with the Oregon kids _ Tai, Ava, Nate, Ross and Alec where they were going to assist the Boys and Girls Club instructors in a planned swim activity for several dozen  children.  I was pleased to see Matt help a little girl perfect her swim strokes; he made several trips back and forth across the shallow end of the pool coaching her. I was proud of all our Global Volunteer kids; they really made an effort to help and connect with the kids in the chaotic highly unstructured situation. Later, the Head Start instructor, organized some races and then Linda passed out candy treats.

Matt and I left a few minutes before 5 to get dried off and dressed for our evening activity.  We had made arrangements through Kelsey to go horseback riding on the Deboo ranch.  Owner and rancher Chuck Deboo and I had been playing phone tag for two days trying to set this up so I was very pleased when a little before 5 PM Carrie Deboo, Chuck’s wife, pulled up in front of the center  to pick Garry, Matt, Kelsey, and myself up to go to the ranch.  We drove out highway 89 to the south entrance to the reservation, turned onto another road leading west for several miles before turning off on the three mile driveway leading to the Deboo home.  On the way we chatted with Carrie and got acquainted. I learned she is the mother of two adult daughters, one of whom is getting married next month and 14 year old Chase. Her husband, Chuck, is a full time rancher, and she works in Valier, a neighboring town where Chase also attends school She makes a 23 mile one way commute everyday summer and winter. She said that the hardest part of her drive is just getting out of her driveway and I could certainly see why as it was a deeply rutted  rough road.

When we arrived at the Deboo homestead Carrie took us around and showed us a guest house and wash house they had built themselves to accommodate their many guests. Chuck and Chase were in the corral with about half dozen horses and they came out when we arrived to meet and greet us. They had already saddled up our horses so they helped us mount and adjusted the straps and stirrups.  Matt was riding MV ( short for Mirror Vision as his father was named Vision), I was riding a gentle horse named Ronnie, Kelsey was on 45, and Garry rode Chief, a big guy. After a few pointers on how to stop the horse and get it to turn etc we were off across the field, the three ranch dogs following us.  The afternoon was lovely, the sun was shining down on us and the ever present Montana wind had abated somewhat. We rode across the sloping fields past scatterings of cattle, along a creek that flowed through the property. At one point it crossed our path and we had to ride down a slight embankment and through the water.

We arrived at the base of a 5000 foot flat topped hill and Chuck said this was the place where we had to decide whether to turn around and head back to the ranch house or climb the hill to his special lookout and return on the back trail.  Kelsey and Matt were all for riding to the top of the hill and Garry and I were agreeable so up we went.  It seemed like we could see forever when we got to the top. Chuck had his special lookout area, he had even made a sign called Chuck’s Lookout, so we got off our horses and let them graze while we went over there to admire the view and rest. He pointed out some of the wildflowers growing — a purple lupine and miniature sunflower and also a really big bird that looked like some sort of flying turkey.  I learned that the ranch is 5000 acres and was first acquired by his grandparents.

We had left the horses grazing on the plateau while we climbed down to the rocky overlook area. When we returned SURPRISE! we discovered that instead of five horses, there were only two.  MV, Ronnie, and Chief had wandered off.  That’s when our ride became a hike.  Chuck had said they wouldn’t go far, but horses are a lot like kids, once you think you have them figured out, they let you know in no uncertain way  that you do not. In the twenty minutes or so that we had been admiring the view from the lookout point they had gone all the way down the hill and would have gone back home if they hadn’t been stopped by a fence.

We climbed down the hill and over a slight ridge and saw Carrie and Chase leading them back up the hill. We had a good laugh; I know that Chuck was a little embarrassed about his wayward horses, but it was all  good fun and part of the adventure. We saddled up and rode back to the ranch house without incident to a delicious chuck wagon  supper that Carrie had prepared.  I did get a little freaked when Kelsey asked Carrie how they decided which cow they were going to “process” for food. Word of advice — don’t get old or difficult at the Deboo.One more thing that I must mention . . .   before we ate, Matt, Kelsey and I walked over to the stable and checked out the latest arrival on the Deboo ranch — eight puppies!  They were too cute.

We sat around the fire pit and ate and talked and talked. The evening was so enjoyable that before we knew it it was 10:30 and time to go home. We all agreed it had been a great day, a good blend of helping others,  getting to know new people, and having fun. The end.

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