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The Lower Valley


6/20/10, Dolores, CO - Tonight, Iím located about 8 miles north of Dolores, on Route 145. The lower half of the Dolores River Valley is punctuated by a lot of private properties along the river.  The valley is still beautiful, but there is very little public access to the water.  So, with most of the good fishing was behind a wire fence, so the lads and I put a few miles behind us.

For a Sunday, traffic was fairly heavy, as the Blue Grass Festival in Telluride is ending today. In spite of that, I didnít encounter any problems and we moved at a good clip downstream.

Several families stopped to chat and visit the horses, usually when we pulled over for a rest break and at lunch.

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Just another day at the office for Doc.  Letís see, lunch box - check, briefcase - check, little girl sitting on back - check.

The last time I went shopping at a grocery store or a grain store was in Montrose, two weeks ago. With the two hundred pounds of oats that Kevin brought me, and by picking up a few things at conveyance stores, I have just about what I need to keep going. I expected it would be a long distance between supply points, so I stocked up ahead of time.  One of the big differences between living life in a wagon, and living a normal existence with a car, is how you get what you need to exist in life.  With the car, you just jump in and go get what you need.  Like the old days, I have to plan for what I need, and pick things up as I happen to travel by a store.

Tonight, the team and I are settled on an outcropping of National Forest Land that has some good grass.  After all the miles of private land near the road, I was surprised to see some public land this close to Dolores.

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Settled in on some nice grass, nestled in between the sagebrush and gamble oak.

Itís been a while since Iíve given a team update, so here it is:

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After the accident in Mississippi, I gave Doc up for adoption, since I didnít think he would stay sound, pulling a large wagon for 100 miles a week. Not only did he not go lame, he actually increased in strength.  Today he can out-pull either of the Belgians and has more endurance. With the public, heís the kindest, gentlest horse Iíve ever seen.  He especially loves kids and old folks. With me, he thinks that Iím one of the herd. One of his favorite tricks is to rub his head vigorously on my back or shoulder, bowling me over.  When he is burning through his oats, or feeling playful, heís like a hyperactive, prankster-type, little boy.  But, heíll always be my favorite!

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Bill is my leader. When he starts out the day, heís the most willing horse I have ever seen. Prone to A.D.D., for the first hour or two, heíll expend as much energy bouncing up and down as he does going forward.  Bill also tires himself out the quickest.  If he has had a hard day of pulling hills, I can count on him to be finished by 3 or 4 in the afternoon.  A few times Iíve had to swap him out with my resting horse in the middle of the day. Bill has grown to really love people.  He looks up to me as his leader. When the wagon is parked next to the playpen, he looks in the window several times during the evening to make sure Iím okay. He occasionally gets nervous at something, but quickly calms to my voice.  Today, he was all excited about a dead bear laying alongside the road by a culvert. With a few words to him, he started quieting down. Bill will also cop an attitude is he feels heís being treated unfairly.  If I give him a little slap on the butt with a line, heíll more than likely buck about 6 inches, showing me the bottom of his heels. Thatís his way of saying, ďHow dare you do that; Iím giving you all I got!Ē  Heís almost as smart as Doc.

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Bob, aka B.O.B.

Bob is my ďSolid Rock on the LeftĒ.  Heís not near as willing as the other two, but I can get him to buckle down and do what needs to be done. Bob was always the most standoffish with people; but, in the past few months, heís really come to appreciate the pets and treats that the public have to offer.  When heís pulling with either Doc or Bill, he likes to walk half a step behind them.  Bob doesnít scare very easy, but I keep a good eye on him.  He has been known to fall half asleep when he is pulling. When he wakes up and something doesnít look right to him, heís like a coiled spring with an endless amount of available horsepower.  I watch him the closest to make sure he doesnít runaway. For all his minor faults, he a very dependable member of the team. He absolutely adores his brother Bill.