Monday, February 23, 2015

Ready or Not - Here Comes Spring

From the February 2015 issue of Mules and More...
by Andy Breland
Trailhead Supply, Kalispell, Mont.

Can you feel it? Can you see it? I can almost feel it! It’s a breath of fresh air. Spring is just over a month away, the days are getting longer, and temperatures are getting warmer. Snow is beginning to melt, giving way to my favorite time of year, mud and ice (just kidding about the favorite part). As spring becomes closer, folks will slowly start coming out of hibernation. In fact, I just saw my neighbor for the first time since November. The real question is are you ready?  Are you really ready?  
Living up in the northern most part of our great country, when the snow is gone, and the mud is mostly dried up, but if you’re not ready, you will miss out on some awesome spring riding.  The fact is that you only have a few months before winter starts creeping back in again.  So, what do we all need to do to get ready to hit the trail? 
First you need a good safe suitable animal to ride.  If you don’t own or have access to a horse or mule that fits your ability as a rider, now is the time to start looking.  Price goes up as the weather gets nicer.  As simple as it sounds it’s a huge problem. Be honest with yourself, how good can you ride? How much time do you want to invest? Don’t just buy color, buy quality.  Buying color doesn’t always work out well.  My wife has paint, with lots and lots of chrome and everyone who sees him comments on how beautiful he is.  No one ever asks how trained he is or how old he is, they just assume he has to be good since he is so gorgeous.  Buy ability, the old saying a green rider and a green horse is a bad combo….Is true, very, very true.  If you need help when buying saddle stock ask a knowledgeable person to help you, and that doesn’t mean the one selling the animal. 
Now that you have your new trusty steed you are going to need a trailer.  No trailer? Then you aren’t going very far.  Trying to catch a ride or riding around the boarding facility gets old very fast.  Trailers, as with mules are cheaper while it is still snowing than when the sun is shining.  Start looking now!  If you already have a trailer, when was the last time you checked the lights, the spare, or even thought about having the brakes checked?  What about the bearings? Ever pulled the mats? Checked the floor? When was the last time you cleaned out the tack room?  All this goes for your tow vehicle as well. That old truck might get you back and forth to work every day just fine, but add a trailer and a couple of tons of mule power and tack……….do you feel lucky?  Now is the time to get it checked over. 

Since you cleaned out the tack room and found all your missing stuff, this would be a great time to oil up all that leather and check everything over. Get all that repair work done that you have been putting off.  I know that the first sunny day every spring I have a line of folks wanting everything fixed that they broke last fall, and they all need it by this weekend.  Get it done now, avoid the wait, and don’t miss a good ride.  The same goes with the farrier, why wait to the night before to call and ask him if he has time to stop by for a trim or throw some shoes on, just to be disappointed, when he tries not to laugh?
 What is your plan for this summer?  Thinking of taking all the stock camping with you?  Ever done that before?  Has your stock ever been tied up all night? Been trailered long distances? If not, then it is time for some practice.  Where are you going? What kind of feed is available there or are there feed requirements.  Is there water? Do you have a water tank in your trailer? Are you going to be hauling across state lines? Check on what is required for health and vet certificates, along with brand inspections.  
We all have a lot to do the next few weeks. Time will fly by; don’t get left on the side lines.  Get out and enjoy life on the back of your animal. The world looks great from five foot off the ground. There is not a sweeter sight as when I turn around in my saddle to check my string and see all those ears flopping without a care in the world, and you know it’s going to be a great day.
Questions? Please feel free to contact me at, submit your question on my blog at or call me at my store 406-752-4437.

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