Horse Play

Eye contact!

Eye contact!

Be observant.

Be ready.

I was halfway there.  I was observant, but not necessarily ready.

One afternoon, I’d gone out to shoot stock photos of the energy industry activity in western North Dakota.  I was west of Dickinson shooting long shots of an oil refinery under construction.  It was a grey sunless day. The diffused light dampened the contrast and color.  So, I didn’t waste much time or effort to shoot grey, lifeless photos of a construction project.  I turned around on the gravel road and headed back to Highway 10.  Then I saw it: life!

An appaloosa dances while the rest of the herd watches

An appaloosa dances while the rest of the herd watches

Across the road, a herd of horses horsed around. Horse play!  And wow, they were playing!

App dances, white walks away wtrmrkScampering!


Two appaloosas and a white or albino took turns dancing, jumping, running.  It was like watching kittens or puppies play. Entertaining and joyful.  Their antics were captivating; I forgot  camera settings.

three horses play wtrmrkObservant, I’d caught the action before I drove past, but I wasn’t quite ready.  My camera was still set for the dark images of the construction site.  I stepped outside my pickup and shot. Adjusting the camera between shots just a bit at a time, I monitored the playground to see how these playful critters scooted about.

White and App kick and run

I’m sure the gaiety lasted longer than my short time allowed.  I could have sat for hours to watch the merriment – but alas, I was supposed to be “on the job.”  I had appointments to keep. So, discipline topped enjoyment.  I left the herd in revelry while I headed off to responsibility.  Now, I’m home, I see that why I was mesmerized by the play.  So, I posted the set of images on my website.

How long would you have stayed to watch?

June 12

Big hat for a little guy

Grassroots family fun. The ranch families from around the Northern Plains gather in their small towns for a little friendly competition — rodeo.  And as much as it’s about horses and

Game face

Ride 'em cowgirl

roping, it’s about families and kids.  Like this little guy. He’ll grow in to and eventually out of that straw hat he’s wearing.  Or the little fella riding a hobby-horse around the bales, trying to beat the clock.  He’s trying as hard to win as his older kin are trying to win the events in the big arena.

It’s not a men-only sport, or even women-only. Girls and boys both get in to the Wing Rodeo action.  And no matter the age, they give it their best shot.

Cowboy snags the calf, now to tie it

Something tells me, however, that the older you get, the more pain in involved.  I have a feeling that these young cowboys have to work their way up from a hobby-horse to riding a mad bronc, and pain tolerance is probably a big factor.

Riding a bronc

Outta the saddle

ready to bite the dust