Monday Guest wrote Ranch Horses

Note - we will interview Steve Monday at 7 a.m.. 
From The Westerner - by Steve Wilmeth -
     Bailey nickered at me through the 4:30 dark silence. They had all come to me as I switched the lights on to start to feed. Three bays and a seal brown chestnut that live over the corral fence with us in Mesilla. I worked through the routine keeping them quiet and settled as they got their morning feed.
     I stood there and listened to them eat momentarily before I climbed through the fence and turned the lights off. I went to get ready before I saddled and loaded. We were going to gather.
First light
      Leonard had called to tell me he had nine riders that could start on Friday morning rather than Saturday. That would give us a head start and make Saturday, when the bigger crew would arrive, more efficient.
“Good deal … let’s do it.”
     When I came out onto the back porch at 5:30, no horses were seen. They were all standing in the far corner of the arena when I found them. They know what feeding at 4:30 brings.
     I decided to take Tom. Since we were only going to pen enough cattle for Leonard and me to start sorting early Saturday, we would be finished by midday. One horse would do.
     Tom’s a dark bay horse that weighs 1250 pounds. He’s tall at 16 hands and somehow that kind of horse has become taller for me. He is a big mover and can cover country. At times he can be timid, but he is very versatile. He watches a cow with instinct but he tends to work too fast if allowed. When he’s fresh he’ll get faster and faster.
     I now match saddles to our horses. Good horses, like pickups, are too expensive to hurt. Paying thousands of dollars for a horse with a one size fits all saddle is no longer preferable. Tom gets his own saddle and I will even swap that out to reposition pressure points if he works days in succession.
     He stood there as the gentleman he is as I saddled him. He only disagreed when I brushed his mane too hard. He lifted his head and backed his ears. I reminded him he was going to endure that bit of grooming. If the trailer gate is open I can throw the lead rope over his withers from 25 feet away and he’ll load himself. All our horses have pretty much come to that point. As ranch horses, they know the difference in a ride versus a long trot anywhere. They’ll ride.
     In the trailer, you can’t feel him. He’s quiet as a church mouse and will drop his head and doze as we drive to the ranch. As I unloaded him, he was interested briefly in one of the other horses that would start with cowboys from that point of the gather. He knows them but doesn’t spend much time with them other than during times of work.
      We scattered, set our spacing, and started our drive. Tom was relaxed. He worked as he always does in the open. Stay out of his mouth, get lighter and lighter with pressure, and move him laterally with your legs. He does the rest and he does it well.
     I let the rest of the world go away. The morning was a joy. Read full column