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Cedano Beach, Honduras

A New Horse for the Ranch

January 3, 2007

Today is my next to last day in Honduras on this trip. I think I will take the next couple of days and do a lot of resting before I go back home and face my reality. When I get back I have a lot to do such as get my truck to the shop for repairs from the lady that hit me, get my emissions fixed so I can get the tags renewed, talk to a bankruptcy attorney about the possibility of filing on the rental houses and find work so I will be making money again. So yeah, I better get some rest because there won't be much of that once I get back home.

The good news is that I am in Honduras where resting is a big part of everyday. So that is what I did most of the day, lay in the hammocks and rest. Not much more than that, but then Nahum came over and wanted me to go into the jungle to help get some wood for the chimney because they were out and could not cook. So we went for a short walk to gather wood. Ariel and Kevito went with us carrying the machetes as we crossed the old river (with no running water this time of year) and barbed-wire fence. Once across there was plenty of wood to be had so the boys started cutting down some old trees and trimming off the branches into sizes small enough to carry back easily.

While they were doing the hard work of cutting the wood Nahum, Kevin and I took a stroll over to the next river bed. Water was trickling in this river bed, which was a good sign. After Hurricane Mitch came through and uprooted a lot of trees and tossed around big boulders, the river started running underground during much of the year. Having water running at all was a sign that the jungle was coming back and allowing the water to flow on top again.

On our little stroll Nahum pointed out some of the older trees that had survived the hurricane. They were very tall and had large trunks. He asked me how old I thought the trees were, but there was no telling unless we cut them down and counted the rings. I guessed they were probably 80 to 100 years old. But then again with the speed in which things grow in this climate I have no idea if I am close or not. Regardless it was beautiful back there in the thick jungle. This is definitely part of the reason I love it down here so much.

After our walk we made our way back to where the boys were still piling up wood. About that time we saw Anibel drive up to the house and the kids yelled to us that he had brought some Coke. Raquel made us some glasses of Coke and then carried them over to us. Anibel also walked over with Alfonso and joined us for the afternoon refreshment. Afterwards we all grabbed a load of wood and made our way through the barbed-wire fence and back to the house. Now there was plenty of wood for the evening meal and then some.

When we got back Nahum's mom, Melida was over by the trees where the chickens roost in the night. There are two smaller trees to the side of the house with branches leaning into them so the chickens have a way to get up in them, like a ramp of sorts. Melida was concerned that there was too much chicken poop under one of the trees and it was in the way of getting to the trash pit where they burned the garbage. So she asked Nahum to cut down some of the branches to control the problem. Ultimately, the whole tree came down one branch at a time. I suppose it would supply the needs of the chimney for a few more days at the least.

I thought it was kind of funny that they were cutting down the whole tree. In the beginning I thought they were just going to cut down the branch that hung over the area Melida wanted to keep free of the chicken poop. After I realized they were going to cut down the whole tree I looked at Nahum and told him it would have been easier just to take the branch down that acted as a ramp for the chickens. Then they could no longer get up in it and cause the problem. But, since I did not know the language there may have been other reasons she wanted the tree to come down, I just didn't know what they might be.

After that job was done we went back to our resting posts to take a break. While we were resting Anibel came over to Nahum and told him he had heard from his friend with some stud horses we could possibly use to breed Morena and Rosio. We figured since they were ready we should go ahead and breed them so we would have two colts in a year to add to the population of the ranch. So we loaded up and went to the guy's house.

This ranch was between Tablones Abajo and Tablones Arriba, so we did not have to go far. When we got there we saw some big and beautiful horses. These were by far the biggest and nicest looking horses I had seen in Honduras. I think these horses came directly from the U.S. as they looked more like horses we would have here. One of them was a prize horse and had a price tag of US$20,000. Way to expensive for our ranch to be sure, but they were very beautiful horses indeed. The guy who owned them was not there to discuss the possibility of using them to breed our horses, it was just Anibel's friend who worked there. So after looking at the horses we loaded up and went over to Mauricio's house to see if he would lend us his horse for breeding.

Mauricio lived just outside of Tablones Abajo so again we did not have to go far to reach our destination. When we arrived he got a rope and went after his white horse whose name happened to be Peaso, or clouds in Spanish. All of us made a circle to close in the horse because he did not want to be caught. We cornered him up by the gated entrance to the property and Mauricio roped him and led him back over to the group. It seemed that this horse was not broken or at least was not happy to be caught. He let us all know of his unhappiness by grunting and snorting. I think everybody was a little afraid of this horse judging from his attitude up close.

While we were standing there Nahum was asking him about the breeding and Mauricio had no problem with us borrowing Peaso for that purpose. But then he let us know he wanted to sell the horse for $17,000 Lempira. Nahum asked me if I wanted to buy it and I wanted to so we would have a male horse on the ranch. I did the calculation and the price was just under US$1,000, so I said yes. Nahum told me he would negotiate the price down, so I watched and waited for the final outcome of the deal.

Mauricio's brother had bought the horse four or five years ago for $27,000 Lempira and he was unloading him for much less. He said it was a good deal, and it probably was. I asked Nahum why he was selling him of which he replied that Mauricio likely needed money and since his brother was gone and living in the U.S. it was probably a fast way to get some. In the end he did not come down in price, but he did throw in the saddle and other accessories for the horse at the $17,000 Lempira price. Not a bad deal all and all.

After the negotiation was done Mauricio reworked the rope he had caught Peaso with turning it into a make-shift bridle in order to ride him. He jumped on him bare-back and rode him around the pasture. Again, Peaso had an attitude and was not happy to have a rider on his back. He was not going to sit still for this and proved to be difficult for Mauricio to get the bridle on and himself on Peaso's back. Peaso appeared to be quite the scary horse to ride.

Kevito, who is very good with the horses on the ranch, was afraid to ride him. It was funny because the other day when he saddled up the horses he was showing off how he could ride backwards and with no hands. But Peaso was too much horse for him on this day. I was teasing him and egging him on to try riding him. Mauricio was holding Peaso still so I picked Kevito up to put him on Peaso's back because he was much larger than our females. But when I did Peaso was spooked and started kicking and moving around so that I could not safely get Kevito on his back. Kevito was scared and had no further interest in riding him then. Everybody else laughed at the scene because it was funny.

At that point Mauricio looked at me and said I should ride him if I was going to buy him. Of course I was not going to show any fear and accepted the offer. I walked over and jumped on Peaso's back and pulled myself up and over. I had never ridden a horse bare-back in my life, so really didn't know what to expect, especially riding a hostile horse! But once I got on him things went relatively smoothly. At first he did not want to go, but we finally got him going and I led him around the pasture on a slow ride. The problem was that he wanted to run and he was tugging at the rope letting me know that was his intention. So, I let up some slack and let him gain some speed.

I was happy to find that this horse was much larger and had no problem carrying my weight. Furthermore, he was a much smoother ride than the females, especially while running. I was thinking that my back would be saved by riding this horse. When we got to the other side of the pasture near the house Peaso started throwing down his head. I think he was trying to eject me from his back and it almost worked. I came all the way up to where I was straddling his neck with a handful of his hair trying to keep my balance and stay on him. I finally got control and was able to scoot myself back off of his neck. I then dismounted and confirmed the deal.

I ended up riding him one more time just to get a feel as did Nahum and Ariel. Afterwards we said our goodbyes and headed toward the ranch. Ariel was going to ride Peaso back to the ranch while the rest of us followed behind in the truck. We were not far from home, so it did not take too long to get back.

When we got back we rounded up the females because it was time to breed. Fortunately, both females were in heat and Peaso could obviously smell it because he got very excited. So excited he was able to pull away from us and chase after the other two. We were not able to surround them in time and they all three went running into the jungle. We chased after them for a little while before finally grabbing the rope on Peaso and leading him back to the chorale. The other two horses were not a problem as they quietly followed Peaso back wanting to have him do his thing with them.

It was starting to get dark so we took Morena up the hill to keep her away from the other two. Even though she was in heat she was letting Peaso know she was in charge. When he got close to her she would haul off and kick her hind legs right into his gut. But Rosio on the other hand would turn and be ready for him. So we put Peaso and Rosio in the chorale and watched while they did their mating rituals. In the end Peaso bred her four times that night before we decided to separate them. Had we not they would have kicked each other to death in that chorale. I think after the fourth time Peaso was tired anyway as he was having a hard time jumping on Rosio's back. So we took Rosio up the hill and tied her up and then went back to the hammocks to rest up before dinner.

During the time we were all sitting around the chorale while Peaso and Rosio were doing their thing Kevin brought up the need for me to send more money down for food and such to care for the horses. He was also concerned that with the two pregnant horses and a new third horse he would not have enough time to tend to them properly. So, I suggested that I hire Foncito to be the horses' caretaker and free up Kevin for his other duties.

Foncito had been living in Tegucigalpa and working at a grocery store for about $450 Lempira per week working a six day, 48 hour work week. If you do the math, it is only about US$25 per week, not a lot compared to U.S. wages. So, I agreed to pay him $3,000 Lempira per month, almost double what he was making if he would stay and help out. Also, as part of the deal he would have to go back and finish college of which he had three years remaining. I agreed to also pay his tuition of about US$75 per month. It was a great deal for him because he would only have to work part-time and make way more than he was earning in Tegus. And, he could also help Kevin buy food and such for the ranch as well as support his younger brother and sisters who also live there. It was a good deal for everybody.

During the rest of the evening the horses, although separated, would whinny to each other confirming they were still in close proximity. Tomorrow it would be Morena's turn to get her chance with Peaso. A chance I am sure she was looking forward to. But now it is time for sleep anticipating the final day at the ranch.

© 2007 DKSeigler Investments, LLC

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