June 20, 2019 By R.A. Jones

Wranglers and Dudes

This happened on a dude ranch near Jackson, Wyoming. A column of a half dozen big city dudes are clip-clopping along behind a hired local wrangler who knows horses, trails and safety.

Silence reigns and thoughts are mostly turned inward, but some begin to watch a long “V” of geese. A creative glint appears in the hostler’s eyes and, from sheer boredom, he asks why one side of the “V” is longer than the other.

Educated brains snap into action. Hipshot answers begin to fly. The “V” is curving toward a lake out ahead of the short side and the long side is racing to keep up but is spacing out. The “V” is shying away from a head wind, which affects the short side less. The “V” is a avoiding a danger, which only the racing short side has noticed. The short side has younger geese that are full of moxie. There are more proffered solutions.

To each of these the hostler slowly shakes his head “No.” None of the comments have been very convincing. Finally, a city slicker gives it up and asks the old country boy out ahead why one side is longer. “Because the long side has more geese in it,” says the bumpkin wrangler in smug satisfaction.

Or imagine a different ride. This time, the wrangler — wranglerette? — is a diminutive college girl from some snooty, side-saddle type girls’ school back east. That’s already embarrassing enough to a steely-eyed veteran who has shaped his new Stetson to cavalry style and from the halt now scans the distant hills for marauding Sioux. Meanwhile she is cinching up his saddle girth to save the ranch from a lawsuit. Soon the column moves out and breaks into a trot. Not everybody handles this gait gracefully. The girl approaches the matter gingerly.

“Ah, Mr. Jones, if you’d hold the back of your saddle with one hand, you’d get the rhythm more easily, you wouldn’t bounce as much, and you’d be easier on the horse.”

“I’ll bet you wouldn’t say that to John Wayne,” says this affronted writer.

“No, I wouldn’t,” answers the little snip. “But I wouldn’t worry about John Wayne falling off the horse either.”


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