Scouts-L Mail Archive for December of 1999: Philmont Cavalcade & horses
Philmont Cavalcade & horses
Fri, 17 Dec 1999 22:05:48 -0600
>I saw an old note that you left on the net concerning the Philmont
>Cavalcade. I am going on the cavalcade in July 2000...
>Any help or advise you can give would be appreciated.
As far as equipment goes, Philmont will supply everything except personal
gear. By the way, you have very little room for personal gear.
Whatever fits in your saddle bags, rolls into your slicker, or fits into a
BSA stuff sack (sleeping bag size) is all you can take on the trail. You
take less on a cavalcade than on a backpacking expedition.
I would suggest bringing for the trail...
1 pair western style boots
1 pair very light pair of sneakers for campsite wear
2 pair of jeans (one you wear, one you pack)
1 pair lightweight shorts for campsite use
2 lightweight long sleeve shirts (one you wear, one you pack)
2-3 underwear (one you wear)
2-3 socks (one pair you wear)
1 bowl & spoon
1 small flashlight
1 pocket knife
personal first aid kit (small)
camera & film (optional, but highly recommended)
hat for campsite use
soap (can't use in showers after 5:00pm--Bears!)
Uniform and poncho is needed for headquarters, but not on trail. No room
for a uniform, and they supply a slicker, making a poncho unnecessary.
Hopefully I haven't missed anything, this is off the top of my head.
Keep things to a minimum. The stuff sack will be
on a pack horse and hold your sleeping bag and a few other items.
Everything else is in your saddle bags, about the size of two purses.
You don't want anything dangling off the saddle, it can spook the horses.
As for route, there are 8 itineraries to choose from, half in the north,
half in the south, basically 4 routes going in either direction.
The biggest decision is whether you want north country or south country.
North country provides the opportunity to climb Baldy Mountain 12,441 ft,
the highest point on the ranch. The gymkhana takes place at Rayado. The
north country is largely mesas and canyons, rocky and rugged looking.
Many trees were cut down a century ago during the mining boom.
South country boasts beautiful meadow areas around Beaubien, you can climb
the Tooth of Time, and the mountains are more wooded. The gymkhana is
done at Philmont Cattle Headquarters as is wrangler training. You get an
extra night at Philmont HQ. South country has fishing available at Fish
Camp if you are interested in that.
Some of this may have changed in the past few years. We last rode the
north country in 1995, and the south country in 1986. You can't make a
wrong decision in choosing your trek. They are all fantastic routes
through breathtakingly beautiful wilderness. I've enjoyed both.
Remember, the horses names are often a reflection of physical
characteristics or their personality. Each horse is "unique".
M Y P H I L M O N T H O R S E S
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
An Old fat horse that wheezed going uphill, he was dumb as a rock. He
wouldn't move unless a horse in front of him did. I could sometimes
navigate him by "plow steering". Halfway through the gymkhana they
allowed me to change horses joking that "Chuckles" might suffer a
stroke. Huge horse though. Don't worry, that horse H-A-S to be dead by
now! He was half dead in 1984. "Chuckles", isn't that a clown's name?
I loved "Stick". He was a former wrangler's horse. He was huge, I could
barely get up on him. He was strong, fast, obedient, and loved to run.
He would go anywhere. Once I pulled out of the line to take some photos.
He waited patiently while I clicked away. Ready to go, I gave him the
lightest kick and he took off like a shot. If you have a chance to ride
Stick, do it. He was one of the best horses on the ranch. I loved him.
1995 "Oh Boy"
I overheard the wranglers arguing about "Oh Boy", whether to give him out
or not. One said, "He's experienced, he can handle "Oh Boy". I thought
they were giving him to another wrangler. No, they gave "Oh Boy" to me.
I can describe "Oh Boy" in two words. O H , B O Y !
This horse was neurotic, psychotic, and learning disabled! He was big,
strong and loved to run. He was also very high strung and easily spooked.
He would rub his muzzle (nose) constantly on anything nearby, rock, tree,
other horse, but mostly me. He rubbed his muzzle on me while I tried to
mount him. This was a major source of comic entertainment for the crew.
I finally established a routine. I'd offer "Oh Boy" my back to rub his
muzzle on. After he was satisfied, I quickly mounted him. Quickly is a
relative term. He was a very large horse, so mounting was a challenge in
any situation. There was a crew from St. Louis that I had convinced "Oh
Boy" had been trained to give me back rubs.
"Oh Boy" had to be ridden in the back of the line because he would kick
any horse that came close to him. None of the horses liked him. At the
end of the day all the other horses would group up together in the corral
with "Oh Boy" off by himself just glaring at them.
While saddling him one morning something spooked him and he fell flat on
the ground. Suddenly there was this huge horse at my feet struggling to
breath, his head was in an awkward position because he was tied to a tree
and sliding downhill. With the wrangler's help I got him to his feet. I
asked the wrangler if that was normal. He smiled, scratched his chin and
said, "Well, maybe for "Oh Boy". I asked if he might do that while I'm
riding him, just get spooked and fall over. The wrangler hesitated, then
said very slowly, "No, he probably won't", then walked away. I called
after him, "What do you mean by P-R-O-B-A-B-L-Y won't?"
Usually "Oh Boy" would follow the other horses on the trail pretty well.
I have to give him that. He needed that structure in order to function.
Without it, things got interesting.
During the gymkhana, you got on your horse when you were on-deck waiting
to ride the next event. I couldn't do that with "Oh Boy". As soon as you
got on him he would take off like a bullet, and not always in the
direction hoped. I had to mount him at the last possible moment.
Near the end of the gymkana is an event where your troop herds calves into
a pen. All through the gymkhana "Oh Boy" had been nearly impossible to
control. By this point I had decided I would plow steer "Oh Boy". I
would M-A-K-E him go where I wanted. After all, I was his master.
This turned out to be a very bad idea.
Apparently, no one had informed "Oh Boy" that I was his master. After 15
seconds of plow steering he decided it was time for me to go away. Half
my troop was herding calves, the other half was watching in disbelief
while "Oh Boy" tried very hard to launch me into the sky. Bronc busting
was not a scheduled event. I was sure I was going airborne a few times
but somehow managed to stay on. I finally got him calmed down and said,
"OK, It's all right "Oh Boy", you just go wherever you want."
My Scouts thought that was TOTALLY COOL and asked how I got "Oh Boy" to do
that bronco thing? I told them it was entirely his idea, not mine.
Not even the "Horse Wisperer" could help "Oh Boy". Under no circumstances
should you accept "Oh Boy" as your horse! NO! NO! NO! Trust me on this!
Well, I hope this information has proven helpful to you.
Philmont is a fantastic experience. The cavalcade is a great opportunity
to enjoy beautiful mountain scenery, commune with nature, experience
exciting adventures, build a stronger emmotional bond with members of your
troop, and interact closely with a large spirited animal between your legs
for hours each day.
After interacting with three of Philmont's horses, I now have a clearer
understanding of why D-O-G is man's best friend.
Scoutmaster Troop 33; DeKalb, Illinois