Host: Saltriver Horsemanship
Written by Heath Stewart – Owner, Saltriver Horsemanship and Topstock WA Feed Services.
*This story is being published post-humously in loving memory of Heath Stewart. This story was written in 2017*
When the say everything is big in Texas, they’re not kidding. After landing at Dallas airport we were 10 minutes into the bus ride to the hire car depot. “At least the traffic isn’t too bad” I remarked, to which Kellie replied “We haven’t left the airport grounds yet!”
I hadn’t been to the States before, so Kellie drove for the first couple of days as I got my head around driving on the right hand side of the road. First stop was Fort Worth for three days. There was as many pickups on the road as cars and you could go anywhere in your boots and hat and not have people look at you like you had two heads!
Big ass hat.
Being tall and lanky I find it hard to find shirts and jeans to fit me really well, so I stocked up on clothes and a bit of tack that is hard to get here. The worst thing about Texas was the food, it was almost impossible to find something healthy. Average coffee, sugary bread and ordinary salads, but the coronarita hit the spot!
After spending 12 days in Mexico we flew to Denver, hired a pickup (of course) as we wanted to see lots of countryside. In all we did 4500 miles through Colorado, Montana and Wyoming hardly driving the same route twice. There was huge plains of open country, much of it treeless, and the the mountains are real mountains. We crossed at least 5 passes that were over 10,000 feet still covered in snow in summer.
Nearly all the cattle we saw were black Angus with a few red Angus and Herefords scattered in the really cold country. We saw some beautiful grazing country though I bet winter is pretty tough going with many snow drift fences to be seen.
From Denver we drove up to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons for a few days before heading out to Ekalaka (eastern Montana) to conduct a Colt Starting and Horsemanship clinic held on the Meyer ranch. Shaelyn Meyer contacted us 4 years ago and came out to study with us. When we mentioned we wanted to visit her she suggested putting a clinic together for which we really grateful.
The locals at the clinic were real characters and excellent to work with. One of the colts was pretty tricky and bucked the house down when first saddled up, so when they lined the rails the next day for the first ride and there was no rodeo action, they didn’t know whether to be disappointed or impressed.
We had a high percentage of younger riders in the horsemanship class that were really keen and capable. The most notable aspect of Ekalaka was how community minded everyone was. After we finished the clinic we went to the neighbour’s branding where all the locals help out each other, even the kids get involved.
It was great to finally meet Shaelyn’s whole family, they were lovely people and great hosts and we hope to do it all again next year.
This trip was incredible and opened my perspective to two main things; How insignificant we are in terms of the vastness of the world, but also how much influence in the world we are capable of if we increase our vision.