The first wrangling in of the range horses in the Spring is tricky business. The river is still covered in ice and snow. With Spring meaning business and blowing it’s warm air over the river and the sun staying up there shining for hours and hours, the Spring break-up is wet and slippery.
We will need to go get the herd, soon as the Spring Grizzly Hunts begin within the next couple of weeks, running through June. Finding them all with the Super Cub, Master Guide Terry Overly will then decide if he thinks riding and leading them across the ice or if we’ll be making multiple trips on foot bringing the range horses home.
It depends and there are considerations always on safety, you see, for the wranglers and the horses, on if there is enough snow cover left on the river to pack a new trail and ride them, on if the ice has rotted too badly to risk crossing it on horseback, on where the range horses might be and how many groups they are in and other details that always make a difference.
Any way it happens, and it always does, and the horses will be home from their Winter graze and back within reach to start riding and enjoying.
Shaggy coats and the bad attitudes that help them survive Alaska Winters and packs of wolves will shed as their feet are trimmed and they are handled again, reacquainted with a more civilized existence.
There are a few that need to be reminded (every year) that “yes, you are too broke, yes, you know this is a bridle, yes, you will let me put my foot in the stirrup!” And so on. These are discussions that are left for me, Alaska Chick, to have with each one. Saddle up, out we go (sometimes at warp speed), to return a few hours later, sweaty, happy and in complete agreement.
These animals that carry us and our comfortable camps for us are part of our team. The range horses that live here in Chisana with us, are not pets. They are proud, strong beasts with hearts that give and give, year after year. They are the ones that are the heros, the ones that carry you over the icy waters, across the sucking boggy tundra and up the passes to the next beautiful valley.