We talk for about 30 minutes when he tells me he has about 6 folks due to arrive in about 30 minutes and how would I like to take them out on a ride. It seems as though he shattered an ankle several years ago and cannot ride much anymore because of the pain. I asked him if he didn’t have anyone else to do it as I did not know his land, the trails, the horses, nothing at all about his operation. His proclaims if you have been riding most of your life this should be no problem for me at all. So okay I will do it, why not, a chance to ride here on this great place and even get paid to do so.
I get out 7 horses from a large pen so I can get them saddled without a clue who was coming, how old were they, could they ride or anything else about them. What a crazy thing to do.
Anyhow I get everything ready before they get here proving I can catch a horse, saddle them up ready to go fairly quickly which he was happy about. The guests show up, go out to where they are supposed get on their horses. Now Otto comes out to tell everyone how to ride, give a crash course on safety in very broken English that is very difficult to understand which is amazing since he had been in Colorado over 30 yrs. Now if anyone asks him to repeat anything because they could not understand him, he would be really angry proclaiming he spoke very good English. Yeah I thought that was very weird to say the least but I wanted to ride horses here at this ranch for the summer. Because it was beautiful there. One thing I almost forgot to say, is that a couple of these people were ‘newbies’, had never ridden a horse before!
Now right before they got here he explained to me where he wanted me to take them. There are no real specific trails, just several slightly worn areas snaking up around all over. A very important thing to remember here is this is 1500 acres next to the BLM so thousands of acres. So in his wisdom he sent someone to take 6 people out on a ride that has no idea where to go. Also I thought I would tell everybody a story about an event that took place a few years ago. It took place up high in the Rocky Mountains. It is a story of that is as all of my stories are, totally true. Anytime you read of my stories you can count on them to be true because the funniest stories to me are always true.
One summer I was working at a ranch up in Rocky Mountains about an hour and a half from Denver. It was a wonderful place to ride horses with over 1500 acres to ride on with views one can only find in the Rocky Mountains. Views of giant mountain tops all around anywhere one looks. I love our ranch here in Oregon but the Rockies are special, real special. Just imagine, one is at about 9600 ft. high with snowcapped mountains all around you, aspens all over beneath the peaks. Of course in many places one can see what seems like forever. Up in this almost magical beauty is a ranch that takes people on guided horse rides. Wow does it get any better? Well not for me partner.
So I give the owner, Otto a call to see if he needs any guides. Well we chew the fat for a while and he invites me to come out to see if this is a good fit for each of us. Now it is only March so it is still pretty chilly up high like this with some snow that hasn’t melted yet.
The owner is a crusty guy from Europe whose English still sounds like he just moved to this country a year or so ago. For obvious reasons he is fiercely proud of his ranch. Anyone would be as this country is simply awe inspiring, jaw dropping beautiful.
remember these rides are supposed to last an hour and a half. I was told to go up, follow some landmarks to the east. How am I supposed to not get turned around or mixed up on a piece of land that large? Fortunately the ride went really well I thought, we did get turned around a little bit here and there but we were all thrilled! Not a single person was unhappy. What a great ride.
We just kept right on going up until I thought it as about an hour away. Why an hour away, well your horses are most likely to head back at a faster pace than going out. Nothing unusual there for sure.
So we get back, about 5 minutes longer than the 90 minutes, pretty dang good I thought to myself. I was congratulating myself when Otto comes out and asks how come we were late, he did not like to give away any free time. I just shook my head as I went back to unsaddling the horses so they could go fed some, since there didn’t seem to anymore rides scheduled. Several people came by, asking if they could take a picture of me with the horse they rode and one of themselves, Sure I say, not a problem, glad to do it. We chit chat awhile and several of them gave me a tip so I made about $50 in tips which was nice, especially since I had not even considered making anything when I came up here for the job interview. (Never been paid for one then or now.)
Well I tended to the tack, taking it all back to the tack room and putting it where it belonged. Now remember that is 7 saddles, blankets, pads, halters and bridles. They have to be carried about 30 yards away to the tack room, with no wheel barrel or saddle carrier. Just old fashioned muscle. But at the time I did not think a thing of it. A little farther than most places I had worked for but not that bad.
Otto comes up to me to talk and imagine my shock when he asks for my tip. What are you talking about I ask? Well you are not a trained employee so you are not permitted to take any money. I was shocked to say the least. I also said something about ‘when a very hot place’ we all have heard about, freezes up he can have the money.
He was quite stunned at my attitude but just asked me when I could start. It was then, and still is, the strangest job interview I have ever heard of. It was a very odd summer, full of great riding in magnificent country with one of the strangest man I have ever met. Not all bad but certainly a very unique individual.