I Never Stop Learning

By Arden Foster on March 6th, 2023

First training ride, on Dunbar (2015)

It may only be March, but in my mind I am already preparing for summer. As a wrangler, that includes, but is not limited to, early mornings, muddy boots, endless learning about horses, people, and nature, late night dance nights, sing-alongs, and laughter that fills the soul.

Working at RTR has become a big part of my life, which is no surprise, as I am headed into my 9th summer with this amazing group of people. It’s hard to put into words how grateful I am for the opportunities I have been able to receive over the years. When I started at RTR, I had ridden all my life, but not western, not in the mountains, and not with my main priority to be taking care of and hosting guests on horseback. Jane and David were not just helpful, they were instrumental in my learning of the ways of the west.

I remember the first time I saw Jane and David on horseback. They were so fluid in their movements, clear with

Jane on RTR raised Sioux City Sue (2014)

their requests of their horses, both of them looking as though they had been born on horses… all I could think was “one day, I just want to be HALF that good!” (I still think that!) Then they showed us team roping, and I was REALLY impressed. The whole experience made me hungry for saddle time, ready to put in the work to discover this territory of western riding and horsemanship that I had signed on for that 2015 summer.

It wasn’t easy. My English background of having shorter stirrups, more contact with the horse’s mouth (or shorter reins), and tighter legs for jumping suddenly weren’t helping me have a more relaxed feel in the western saddle. Muscle memory had to be adjusted all while I was trying to learn the trails, the horses, the program, and the routine of the ranch.

Jane assigns horses for not only the guests, but for the wranglers, too. Because of this, we have the opportunity to

ride a variety of horses that match our ability, and if we are patient, often these horses teach us just as much as anyone. I remember the horses that changed my riding immensely that first summer: Dunbar, Bonanza, Roanie, Gunsmoke, Musket, Scout,… These names spring to mind instantly, and while I know there were more, it’s amazing the impression that these horses have left on me and my riding.

Wrangling on Piñata, an RTR raised mare I hold near and dear to my heart (2019)

I may ride different horses these days, but they still always have something to teach me. People always ask me who my favorite horse is, and that’s a tough question to answer. How do I choose from so many wonderful horses that continue to teach me and impact my knowledge? It’s part of what I love so much about the experience at the ranch. I also still love to watch David and Jane ride. They are such excellent horse people, and have cultivated a herd of horses that I am consistently impressed with and in awe of.

Today, when I’m not at the ranch, I live in New Mexico. I team rope and help with young horses of all ages. From weanlings and halter breaking to horses old enough for their first saddlings, starting horses to roping and taking my finished horse to compete as a header in team roping. It’s been an adventure to get here, but I attribute much of my horse journey and learning to the miles I rode, and that will ride, at RTR.

Roping at RTR on my own horse, Donovan, with Derek (2021)

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