Dear Friends of WHR,
My how things have changed these past couple years for us, but not my lengthy belated Newsletters! LOL. We sit here snuggled in for winter at our Home Ranch as the snow is accumulating outside, but not too much, because we still live in the “banana belt” of Baker County in Cow Country Eastern Oregon, and though cold, we never get too much snow right here. The pace is slow, but steady and routine.
Digging in deep with the Lord and the quiet cabin life, which was always been Wil’s favorite lifestyle. From his porch perch & front room window he can pretty much keep an eye on all he needs to. This time of year it’s the coming and going of the daily visitations of quail and a variety of winter birds that swarm the feeders in our 100 year old apple tree outside the window.
This year our 3 horses are still managing quite well on pasture, seeing as we had plenty of feed left after the summer. Not enough horses anymore! Can’t believe we used to run 25 head of premium geldings here and then reduced that down to 15 , then 12, then 10, 8 and now just a couple and our Mini "Petunia".
We had a good 2022, as it started out with us having a custom rocked back wall and diamond plate hearth built for our wood stove by our friend & artistic mason, Chad West, even with rock shelves to hang Wil’s spurs on. Really finished off the front room since we never had a hearth in nearly 30 years. Thank you Lord and Thank you Chad for your craftsmanship and vision.
After a month of cross country skiing excursions up in the foothill roads where Wil would tow me with the Jeep, and Katie chasing along to a good place to take off cross the sagebrush flats, our winter was highlighted by our run to the sunshine in late February. “Going half the distance and getting the same effect” , was my comment about spending 3 glorious weeks in Mesquite NV visiting our cowboy buddy, Kent Snidecore from Pinedale, WY and his charming cowgirl wife, Heidi, who winter there in Mesquite.
Side Note: Kent was recently inducted into the 2022 Wyoming Cowboy Hall of Fame, an honorary usually given to outstanding hands after they’ve past, so this was special for a guy who had dedicated his entire life to cowboying to receive this accolade in person. Laughing, he commented…” Well I’ve arrived!” and as good friends, spending many a day riding together, were are happy for him.
We took our “Mini-Mo” little RV and our 4 horse and hauled 3 head down. The big winter Mesquite Roping Series held in the neighboring town of Litchfield, AZ was over and left the 250 stall roping facility nearly vacant for us. The only activity was the mass migration of team ropers headed back to the northern states from Wickenburg, AZ with their big rigs & long LQ trailers, who rolled in nightly, unloading and leaving at daybreak.
I snuck away and rode the dunes, exercised my horses and my cleared my mind in the open desert and nearby red rock trails up the Virgin River Canyon towards St George Utah where we’d trailer to. The two big outdoor arenas were all mine as Wil basked in the sun like an Iguana. One traveling boarder who stayed a couple weeks, Wil made friends with, “Friday”, a very vocal burro/donkey who was quite the character.
We walked the golf course paths, & walking trails, ate out & hung with our friends and simply did what “old cowboys” from the north do who need sunshine in the winter… not much! and loved it! I think I’d say it really was a vacation. We plan to do it again this coming February!
Getting back just in time for the spring irrigation season to start , I had to scramble to get the new gaited pipe system laid out, the head box was an engineering feat I pulled off as the temperatures dropped and my concrete glue needed a tent and propane heaters to cure! But we “got R done”! Then in late April we were hugely blessed by longtime friend and horsemen, reined cowhorse trainer & judge, Wil has mentored, Zeph Schulz and his family from Montana, came down to visit and school their horses prior to the 2022 Cattle Baron’s Ranch Horse Sale in Pendleton, Oregon. While visiting, he and his son & daughter jumped in and we laid out and hooked up the majority of the gaited pipe. Thank you, Lord! Thank You, Zeph! All in all it was another great trip for Zeph as he had another High Seller at Cattle Baron’s Sale, both in 2021 and 2022! Congratulations Zeph & Jenna, Nice horse.
Last spring I managed to break away and get out to spend a few days checking calves & moving cattle for spring turn out, and shipping with good friends & hands, the Joe Painter family of neighboring Keating Valley.
Rio Painter, who turned 16 this summer and I are “kin to wind” and share a common passion in our horsemanship and love for the Lord. She reminds me of myself at her age and so fun to ride and school horses with, she’s a sponge and a true talented, cowgirl and horsewoman. Turning out some deadly cowhorse bred-welsh cross ponies. Her projects have been fun to follow and I encourage her journey. With a love for the ranching lifestyle and the vaquero traditions, her ponies are super handy and accomplished mounts. We also share common interest in poetry and diving deep into the depths of horses & God she continually amazes me with her way with words and the intent behind them. Here is a recent exchange of ours...
“The Feel I Seek" by Rio Painter
It is softer than a breeze,
Lighter than a feather
The feel I seek is.
Im chasing it,
I try to get it a little closer every day
for a fleeting moment I think I've got it
Then it slips away
the feel I'm seeking is pure as spring water,
Soft as a light wind,
And fresher the desert after a rain.
Its freer than a meadowlark flying thru the sage.
There aint no ear pin'in,
Nor tail wring'in,
Nor head shak'in,
Nor nose root'in.
In the feel I'm looking for,
All that's is in my hands is the weight of the reins
In the feel I'm looking for.
Do you know what I mean?
When you find it let me know,
When you've found that soft feel.
"Yes, I've found it , The Feel you seek"...by Beverly Howe
To hold and wait,
but not suffocate,
The feel you seek
is closer than you think.
In your breath,
In their step...
Slow down my friend
and let it happen,
slow down and feel it there...
The release, the give
Suspended in thin air.
It's weightless, yes
like butter melting in your hands.
You can hold it though,
but like a baby bird, not so tightly it's eyes pop out,
Not so loose that it flies away,
But right there is where you stay...
in the bridle chains that sway.
You'll be dreaming of that "spot" all night,
the feel you seek, and all the days of your life.
In July I had fun preparing & showing a couple horses, my faithful trail trooper & ranch horse Magpie and Gritz, one of our special “one of a kind” buckskins who was back on consignment after spending 5 years in northern Idaho, in our local Trail Challenge held at Eastern Slope Ranch in Baker City. It’s been a long time, but we had a blast and made a good showing, though I only could go one of the 3 days, & I didn’t even stop to pick up my ribbons! Maybe next year I’ll have more time and get Sparkanic out. But it was fun and that is something I always did, was to have fun showing, not being overly competitive, I just liked showing off a good horse. The boys did well and made most of it look easy. The sport has become extremely technical and ever challenging which is truly fantastic and raises the bar for what people think are broke horses; they have to be “trained” . Some awesome gals and horses were competing, including Carla Pusitera, whom we haven’t seen personally in 11 years! Still at the top of her game astride her Wil Howe Gelding, Just a Scribble aka “Jasper”. Now at 17, he is as beautiful as ever, still packing the same romel reins and finished bit we sold her and doing wonderfully. The team has won every major Extreme Trail Challenge championship title in northwest and nationally. We had so much fun reconnecting. Single focused dedication and perseverance of perfectionism coupled with a perfect horse for her in temperament and training has been the key to Karla’s success. The right horse, a “Good One” is everything, and she is well aware of that, but hats off to you Karla and all your hard work... you go girl!
The summer drug on thru the rest of July, and August in a relentless heat wave, then weeks of forest fires that smoked our skies & lungs into September. I managed to make a few trips to the mountains with the horses to beat the heat & smoke, taking my new barn help. Having mentored her all year, who, though greener than grass, has come a “long way baby!” Cindy Haugen, a true “horse lover” has had to learn the Wil Howe Way and get her priorities in order, learning the “Proper Perspective” of our Horsemanship program and set her misguided fantasies aside, overcome her fears, and take ahold of the truth and let it work for her and in her. The results have been rewarding for both of us, and we so appreciate her dedicated volunteerism in all areas at the ranch. We camped in mountains and Wil enjoyed the outings, becoming good at holding down the campsite while were off gallivanting thru the back country! Katie had to stay home with Wil most of the summer due to an ACL knee injury that persisted. So camp buddies they’ve become.
August we flew Wil’s son, Samson up from southern CA to visit for Wil’s 81st birthday and the two enjoyed a day fishing on Eagle Creek and cruising Wil’s cars about the valleys. He also finished the gaited pipe project to the far back pasture. Thank You Lord! Thank You Sam, so fun!
The heat persisted into the September with the smoke making it twice as bad. Gathering had to be done very early, hitting the mountains at daylight, meaning getting up at 3:30am to saddle. But nothing like a predawn morning on the mountain as the Lord brings on a breathtaking sunrise filtering His rays of love & light thru cotton ball clouds. A cowboy’s silhouette is against the majesty of the morning sky on a hillside, will keep you going for many a dry spell of riding. I am honored any day, or time of day! that I’m invited to ride by Jake Brown of lower Eagle Valley & Sheep Mountain here in Richland. A good hand, this Great Basin cowboy, horseman & bridle horse bit maker is an implant from Nevada and is now making his way here, taking over his grandfather’s ranch. We get together during the NRCHA Snaffle Bit Season to watch the finals together on TV and keep abreast of the cow horse world, it’s what you do, when you’re steeped and rooted in the cow horse way.
Just as the summer smoke subsided in mid-September, we were blessed by a week-long visit from old time friend, former student, Floyd Snow of Lexington, Tennessee. Floyd was at our very first charter School here at the home Ranch back in 1994. He returned several times over the years including a stint or two with us out in Arizona. Floyd was a good hand and had plenty of savvy, he applied himself well and after, always had an edge on the “good ole boys” back home who just thought they were hands. He jokingly reminded us that when he came out originally to get some help from Wil he thought he was already pretty good at starting colts and just needed “a little tune up”, he said he didn’t realize he was “gonna get a complete over haul!!” Nothing like eating “humble pie” and loving it. He’s ever grateful to this day for all he’s learned from Wil, so much reverence; it was sweet to watch the two together at 70 & 80. There was lots of reminiscing and storytelling as we toured him about our country here in NE Oregon, even took a Jet Boat Ride down Hells Canyon for the jollies! Woohoo! Big whitewater on a beautiful, clear 80 degree day!
The fancy buckskin, “Gritz” was finally shipped in September to McCall, Idaho to his new owners, for their second Wil Howe Gelding, making a family very happy upon his after dark arrival! Again Teresa Bateman, their Trainer gets the credit here, placing him with the same folks who got “Jasper”, our flashy roan flanked Sorrel with socks last Christmas. Congrats to the Ballintine family.
“Magpie” our handsome black & white Paint gelding has been ready all summer to post and sell! I had been riding him consistently and enjoying him completely as my standby “go getter” all year… he's all business, dependable, a "rock eating", single footin’, tough back country trail and ranch cow horse. Now winter's set in early and I have been buried with domestic chores, I completely missed the Christmas season to get him out and in front of our fans and offering him up for sale! So here are some pics and watch for his posting soon!! for more info contact us at 541-893-6535.
October kept us busy harvesting around the ranch, from the vegetable garden’s bounty, to picking blackberries, plums, grapes and apples. Wil took an unfortunate tumble off the back porch, that left him reminiscing cracked ribs from old horse wrecks, but in his amazing zeal, and Gods good grace he was healed up in no time. Just a busy month consumed by the ever more increasing routine doctor appointments that no cowboy likes! Just grin and bear it! Wil is good at that! He’s put up with me all these years! Ha!
Our crazy weather left us mild & warm into late October and early November and then it hit, the big freeze…winter on.
No transition, leaves barely got a chance to turn color. This has left an unusual phenomena where many of the desitious trees in the valley still have their leaves! An early snowstorm left branches heavy with leaves and snow and of course they snapped. So even now in late December we’re still leaf blowing between the snow storms!
Mid November we flew Grant Lindaman up from Scottsdale, taking a few days off from his G2 Performance Horses training operation to help us deliver our big Country Coach RV over to Western Oregon for some maintenance work and prepare it to sell. A huge blessing and joy to spend time together again. How time flies, Grant turned 35 this fall, married, 2 children & one on the way! He was 18 when he first came to work for us! Thank You Lord, Thank You Grant!
Dropping the RV coach off left us over in the Willamette Valley for Thanksgiving where we spent the holiday with long time horse business friends Rick & Sharron Auterson. Old friendship stories and spiritual journeys were blessings shared and a lot of fantastic cooking by Sharron! Lots of Thanks-giving there.
The whole year was sprinkled with similar blessings from dear friends either visiting, like Dary Reed of Yakima WA’s regular quarterly visits or people calling and just staying in touch. It’s that love of common roots that binds us, not necessarily the length of conversation spoken anymore. The Ranch, though not in full Horsemanship School swing anymore at this time, is still the WHR Peace Retreat for anyone who ventures to visit, and all are welcome. We/I will always offer all we can, when we can, as teaching & sharing horse & life training has been our way of life.
In the midst of November, Katie Cow-Dog suffered another ACL injury to her good leg, leaving no choice but double reconstructive TPLO Knee surgeries that were done on December 7th. So… here we are nestled in, weeks of restricted activity for her and rehab workouts. …with a large dog bed in the front room of the cabin, a "Cone Head" and Beverly double timing her caregiving responsibilities!
But Ahhh! Alas! God is good and will only give you what you can handle …if you lean on Him. The Lord makes you strong under the pressure, that is how all good things are refined. To become submissive, cooperative & dependable. Kinda sounds like training a horse.. right? We need ‘em to trust us completely so they can respect us without fear and we can then communicate and get R done! I seem to be getting better at this all, the more snowballs I have to duck. ...Glory be to the Father!
Which brings us back to Christmas… God Almighty, Lord of the Universe who stooped down from the Heavens to be like us, lowly, giving us a child, Immanuel…God with Us. We are no longer lost, God had a plan… we have a Savior! Truly Comfort and Joy!...
Belated as usual, but heartfelt intentions all the same...
Merry, Merry Christmas to you 'all… From our Cabin to yours... from our barn to yours...
From our heart to yours.
With Gratitude & Friendship…
Beverly & Wil & Katie Cabin Dog
Happy New Year! from our Outfit to Yours...