February 12, 2015

by

Brett managed cattle operations at Zapata Ranch from 2014-6.

The day was like any other. After breakfast we smoldered the fire and rode out. The sun was starting to peak over the Sangres and through the clouds. Not enough to shed the sweater. Everyone was full of biscuits and gravy and eggs and coffee.
We trotted. The horses were fresh and ready. The guests and staff blended to make one crew.
Soon we reached the Big South. After the last rider made it through the gate and the gate man remounted plans were made. The crew divided, each with different but equally important jobs. One was to take the east fence, one the north, and one the middle.
My crew spread out far enough to see each other and the northern fence. After thirty minutes we topped out and spotted 100 head. We formed up and rode past at an angle front to rear.
With one seemingly choreographed rush, the entire herd rushed down the hill and over the next. We kicked our horses up to a lope. The dust blended with sun and the herd disappeared and appeared again with each bluff.
The bison soon found a pace and with each hill we looked out for other riders, more bison, and the fence of the next pasture.
I spurred Blue up to a good run and we took a wide circle around the herd and got the gate. I remounted and moved off to a distance. The bison seamlessly flowed down the last hill and through the twelve foot gate in a matter of seconds. They stopped as quickly as they came through to take a drink.
The crew led their horses over to the trough for the same idea. The gate was shut. Some dismounted. Some dug in to saddlebags for water or a leftover biscuit. As the mountains watched we rested from a long ride before we started home. It was a day like any other.

Photography by Lola Higgins