Ranchers and Livestock Growers

Tribute to a Very Special Dog

I know many of you are waiting for the next post in the Healing Communication Series but my family suffered a loss this week and I want to honor our sweet dog, Brutus.  I promise to have the next Communication post up later today as well.

There’s Nothing Like the Love Of A Dog

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There is nothing more devoted than a dog

They love us unconditionally.

They love us when we’re happy, even more when we’re sad, they even love us when we’re unkind to them.

That was our Brutus.

Even though the cats were bigger than he was, he knew he was 10 foot tall and bullet proof!

And he loved his family enough to die for us.

He was our constant companion. Our little bull-headed, cow-herding, horse-chasing, doxie.

He was a constant fixture at our sides. He traveled more miles than most humans do in a lifetime. And he got to live the life of leisure, spending his summers in Colorado and his winters in Arizona.

He was one spoiled, wonderfully happy, pup!

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He loved being wrapped around your shoulders watching the scenery go by while driving.  Or snuggled against you under the covers at bed time.  If you moved around too much he’d growl and kick you, hard!

He was even the ring-bearer for Mika and Hardy’s wedding.  It was adorable!

Brutus went everywhere with us.  The barn, moving cattle, rodeos, cowboy church, you name, he was there. We had to lock him in a stall or tie him up when we rode because he would run around like a crazy man and try to follow our every move. If he got loose when Mika was practicing barrels, look out!  He would be hot on her heels the entire pattern! Silly dog!

He had a wonderful, love filled life. But over the last couple years his health had been declining.

We had all been preparing ourselves for the end. And I thought I was ready.

I wasn’t.

He loved his family.

All his family.

We were his world.

He brought us years of love and great joy. And now our world has a big empty hole in it.

Go with God sweet Brutus.

Enjoy those big green meadows on the other side of the rainbow bridge.

Love you!






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How To Find God On A Mountain

Find God?

God Morning! That’s the morning greeting in my house so I thought it was appropriate to say the same thing to you!

That greeting helps us to think of, and thank God before rushing out to our daily lives. It helps me find God first thing in the day, and keep Him in my thoughts the rest of the day.

Today I want to share with you how I  find God on a mountain, in a city, on a plane, anywhere. I hope you enjoy!

Sunday Spent in Heaven on Earth

Sunday is to be a day of rest.  But when you ranch, often that doesn’t happen. Livestock eat seven days a week. Crops don’t know it’s Sunday, so water has to be changed just like any day.

I record my favorite preachers for the times when Sunday has to be a ranch work day. Then I can still get a church fix.

This past Sunday was one of those days.  My daughter and son-in-love, Mika and Hardy, are moving the cattle to their high mountain pastures this week. So we headed to the mountain to help them get ready.

I’m always struck by the beauty of Colorado. I find God every time I go to the mountains. Or anywhere for that matter. Revealing in the breath taking beauty reminds me how great our God is. I truly believe I live in a little piece of Heaven on earth!

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Looking Into Heaven

The Narrow Road to Higher Ground

The road they push the cattle up to get them to higher ground is narrow, with many places where the cattle can simply step off the road and head out on their own and get totally lost.

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Riding drag on the little road to higher ground

So Sunday we had to string an electric fence wire along the open side of the road to help guide the cattle to the top of the mountain.  The wire is not hot, so it only serves as a guide to the cattle. They can still run over it and escape, turn back and run over the top of you, or head up the side of the mountain.

But that one tiny white cord helps keep a 1500 pound cow following the correct path to sweet, cool, summer grass.

That tiny white strand reminds me of God’s loving hand guiding us along our path of life. We can turn and escape, but He is still there with love and guidance. It’s our job to choose to stay on that path.

Finding Our Own Path

That narrow, winding mountain road reminds me of our road through life. The single strand of electric fence holding hundreds of 1500 pound cows pushing and shoving each other reminds me of us. We push and shove to get to the top.  But we have to stay on the path. We have to keep moving forward. We have to keep our eyes forward.

How many times do we walk through our day with our eye on the ground right in front of us, pushing and shoving our way, rather than picking our heads up and look around us at the beauty and splendor of our day. I don’t care where that day is spent, the simple fact we are here and breathing is a miracle. We need to pick our heads up and enjoy this trip around the sun. We may not have another.

We need to look up and find God wherever we are! Whatever we are doing. Take our eyes off the little narrow pathway and look up to enjoy our surrounds and find God in everyday activities.  He’s there whether you realize it or not. So why not include Him in your thoughts and enjoy your relationship with Him?

I hope you will look up and find God today and share the experience with me in the comments section below.

Thank you and God Bless you!


Copyright © 2013 & 2014 Kristi Ross, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address for reprint permission is:   Kristi Ross, 21795 Road W, Lewis, CO 81327


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How Horses Teach Us Life lessons In Unusual Ways

Horses Teach

Horses teach me lessons every day. Today it was a hard and joyous one at the exact same moment.

Earlier today I reached over and picked up the phone to call my Dad.  I had some amazing news I wanted to share with him.  It didn’t even hit me until I had the phone in my hand that he’s been gone two and a half years. 

Dad wasn’t there to answer my call.  He wasn’t there to hear the exciting news I had to share with him. 

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My Dad

I can’t tell him that Zanny is going to have a baby!  The great mare orphaned at only two months old is finally pregnant! 

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Zanny enjoying some well earned R&R

Zanny has been Mika’s number one all round horse, number one rodeo horse, number one heading horse, and number one ranch horse for almost 15 years.  The go-to horse in any situation. Too important to stop riding and let her raise a baby. Until last year.

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Mika and Zanny getting ready for the mixed team roping with Robert Hawk

But last year turned into a horse breeders worst nightmare. Four long months of road trips back and forth to Montrose, vet bills, daily, and often nightly shots. A situation that required total dedication. But still no baby.

Blessings and Heartache

After a winter off, thank God, finally, that incredible phone call from the vet! A pregnancy, and now a heartbeat! 

But I couldn’t call Dad and tell him. And that hurt.

Dad was especially proud of how Mika and Hardy made such a great horse out of Zanny.  She was our pride and joy.  An own daughter of Dad and my stud horse, and out of an incredible own daughter of the great Zan Par Bar. Her death was a tragic loss for our family.  But now her daughter, is finally going to have a little one of her own! 

One horse, Many Lessons

This one horse has shown me over and over how horses teach us many lessons.  She has taught me to believe in the power of prayer and that our God who really does know when a sparrow falls (Matthew 10:29) has answered our prayers for Zanny many times!

Zanny is a walking miracle herself.  Five years ago she kicked Hardy’s gelding square on the butt, but she was the one that came up crippled.  Instinctively we knew it was bad. I jumped in my truck and trailer and headed toward Norwood where Mika, Hardy, and Zanny were while they took her to a local vet. But vet’s x-ray machine wasn’t strong enough to detect anything.  So we packed her foot in an ice-filled inner-tube and I headed to my horse vet in Fruita, Colorado, Braden Shaffer.

Braden’s x-ray machine revealed a broken coffin bone. Some said put her down, some said, breed her and turn her out. But all agreed with that type of injury she was done. But Mika, Hardy, Braden, and I were determined to give her a fighting chance. Braden said it would be a long, slow recovery, but if she would take care of herself, she should heal. He wouldn’t tell us if she would ever be ride-able again, but we were determined.

And we were praying.

She was such a good patient it was inspiring.  She spent two, very long months in a 12 by 24 foot stall, in a special shoe as a cast. During this time she showed me horses teach us about patience. Not once did she get mean or ugly during that long confinement. Not once did she not take her meds or not let me take her temp.

A month later when I was finally able to hand walk her in my indoor arena because the ground was soft, she was patient and kind.  During this time she showed me that horses teach us about trust. She trusted I would not hurt her or allow her to hurt herself when all she wanted to do was jump and buck right there at the end of my lead rope.That would have been very bad on a broken bone.

Horses Teach Us About Dedication

Heading into month four I hauled in 20 pickup loads of sawdust into my covered, belting lined, round-pen where she spent the next six months. Only getting out to be hand walked for the first month and slowly building up to being ridden bareback only at a walk first in the soft arena dirt, then in the tall, soft, grass of my meadows the next four months.

At month nine I was able to trot her a little each day. Finally on month eleven I loped her a half a dozen strides. 

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Our daily ride

At last the day came when I had to let her out of the round pen for the first time.  It was almost 12 months to the day after her injury.  I rode her to take a little of the edge off, but after 12 months of confinement she calmly walked a few feet away from me, wrung her neck, bucked straight in the air, and took off!  She ran two laps around the pasture with me hollering “Easy!” and “Whoa!” at the top of my lungs!  But no, she just kept running!  And soon ran right past me, even with my arms flailing, over the only rocks in the five pastures.  I watched sparks fly as her shoes hit the stones. . . and I . . . threw up.  Yes, literally.  Threw up!  It was excruciating to watch.  But she never took a lame step.

Through all this she taught me that daily dedication and prayer pays off. Simple care and a prayer each day led to her being able to run over those rocks and not be hurt.

Rocks in our own paths are often testimonies to our strength and ultimate success.

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People wonder why I keep them around. It’s because horses teach me something every day.

Has an animal or a horse taught you a life lesson?  If so, or if this story about Zanny has touched you, I ask you to share in the comments section below.

Thank you and God Bless!

Copyright © 2013 Kristi Ross, All rights reserved.
Our mailing address for permission is:  Kristi Ross, PO Box 133, Hotchkiss, CO 81419



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Memorial to a Treasured Family Member

Memorial to Banana

We lost a treasured family member last week and she will be greatly missed.  She taught my family so many things but the most important one was life-long dedication to those we love.  She loved us, and saved my Dad’s life.  She deserves a memorial.

Even before Banana saved Dad she was a treasured family member.    I was telling Mika a day or two after she passed how when she came to us, she was a bit fractious, but once she bonded with us, “she would walked through fire for us and killed a mountain lion on the way.”

She had the biggest, kindest eye and when she saw you coming she would meet you at the gate and follow you wherever you went.  She couldn’t say a word but you knew she loved you.  The look in her eye, the tilt of her head, the way she worked her ears to hear your every word, the way she would walk up to you and wrap herself around you.   You knew she loved you.

She came to my family as a show horse, but became a member of the family by lucky default and I will be forever thankful.    She was incredible.  One of those once in a lifetime horses that changes every one fortunate enough to have known her.

Her outstanding athletic ability showed every time we did something with her.  Her back that was too long for a great athlete, but she didn’t know that.  When she was young she was incredibly physical.  She could stop like crazy, spin till she made you dizzy, and she was beautiful and such a great mover you couldn’t help but watch her.


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Banana in one of her normal stops in Las Vegas at the Silver Dollar QH Show many years ago


She had amazing intelligence and could out smart any cow.  But her most endearing feature was the love that emanated from her.  You knew “Nana-Ba” loved you and she knew you loved her.  There was never a question.  It was just felt.

She was one horse you could always trust.  She went down the horse-show road with my ex-husband and I and had tremendous success.  After the divorce she stayed with Mika and me and was retired to the pasture.  But she was the horse you pulled out when you needed one you could count on.

When Mika outgrew her first barrel horse, I had Banana ready to take Mika to the next level in competition and Nana loved it!  But a couple weeks before they were able to go to their first barrel race stray dogs ran Banana through a fence.  Even after the wounds were healed she was still slightly lame so she was re-retired to the pasture.

A few years later when Mika hit high school she wanted to learn how to cut so Nana came back in from the pasture and taught Mika the basics.


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Nana teaching Mika how to cut


Soon her old soreness showed up again so back to the pasture she went and this time  she raised us an adorable little filly, Reva.  Who is now Hardy’s number one mount and also “eats cattle”.


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Banana, baby Reva, Mika, and my Dad


Notice her eyes?  She never missed anything and would look right at you like she understood every word you said to her. It was as though she looked right into your soul.  And the love and caring she showed to every person involved with her taught us all so much.  Her dedication to us was incredible.  She would put herself between you and a dangerous cow, or a fractious colt.  She used her own body as a shield to protect you from any danger.

I mentioned earlier she saved my Dad’s life.  She did.  When Dad was getting up there in years he still thought he should take the colts to the mountain.  The last time he did he had yearlings and was going to ride Banana and lead the colts up the mountain.  He had saddled Nana at home and when he got to the mountain, at 75 or 80 years old he forgot to tighten his cinch before getting on.  He stepped on, tied a colt off hard and fast to the saddle horn, and started up the dirt road to the top of our summer mountain ground.  Not far up the trail the colt decided it didn’t want to lead and pulled back.  The loose cinch allowed the saddle to slip and in a flash turn completely under Banana’s belly with Dad hung up in the stirrup.  My Step Mom watched in horror as Banana spread all four legs out and straddled Dad.  Kay said she stood rock solid against the thrashing, fighting, frightened colt and protected Dad as he extracted himself from the stirrups, dropped to the ground, and finally crawled out from under her without a scratch.

We had always loved her but from that day on she was treasured for the unique individual she was.  She was amazing.  Not only did she protect Dad, but she protected the other horses in the field with her as well.  She was the official coyote chaser.  Any coyote that came in the pasture learned very quickly they were not welcome and would not be tolerated.  I never saw her kill one, but they certainly didn’t hang around long when she took out after them with her head low to the ground, ears pinned back tight, nostrils flared, eyes squinted, and running straight at them.

Just thinking about her makes me smile and sigh an incredibly peaceful sigh.  She had so much wisdom and talent but was so gentle and kind.

As she grew older she didn’t handle the cold well.  So a couple of years ago we let her go to Hardy and Mika’s little nephew, Kelby, and live in a warm canyon south of Cortez.


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Nana and Kelby


I traveled down the canyon to be with Hardy’s family last Christmas.   I stepped out of the truck and hollered, “Nana-Ba,” and she threw up her head, eyes bright and eager, and ears turned right to me, as she loudly nickered her greeting!  If anyone ever tells you animals don’t have emotion, don’t believe them.  She was as thrilled to see me as I was to see her.  That life long love was still as strong as ever.

I’m glad she had a little boy who loved her the last months she was here on earth, but I certainly missed seeing her sweetness everyday.  And now my heart will never be whole again.  She took a little piece of it with her in her passing.  Those of us fortunate enough to have known her, loved her, and she loved us in return, deeply.

I hope I have learned your greatest lesson and gift, Nana.  To love, and remember, to the very end.

Good bye Nana.  You are still loved, and greatly missed by many.

Go with God and I’ll see you on the other side!

Do you have, or did you have an animal that touched your life?   If so, I encourage you to give them their memorial in the Comments section below.


Copyright © 2013 Kristi Ross, All rights reserved.











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Prayer for South Dakota Ranchers

A Prayer for South Dakota Ranchers

The more we hear about the devastation in South Dakota the more my heart breaks.

As those of you that follow me know, I have a very big soft spot for animals and livestock. As I type this I am surrounded by one blind, and one deaf dog, and have two horses in the pasture that most people would have put down when their bones were broken. But my heart is too tender. I nurse them back to health and let them live out their days here with me.

That soft spot is raw and bleeding today. I had to stop looking at the photos from South Dakota. The death and destruction was tearing me apart. Ranchers are animal caregivers. They love their animals. They are part of the family. To have them die because you can’t get to them or help them would be excruciating!

Have you ever been in a blizzard? A bad one? One where you can’t see your hand in front of your face? Literally? It is a terrifying situation. Can you imagine how hard it was for those people who knew their animals were suffering to have no choice but sit, wondering if their animals had found some kind of shelter, and just wait it out? I can only imagine.

By the grace of God I have only been in one blizzard similar to that. And thankfully did not have livestock of my own in it. But I have spent all night up with sick ones, just like the people from South Dakota. Just like them, I’ve driven all night to get home when I knew one needed attention, stayed home from important events because one was foaling or calving. We care-givers love our animals. So to sit there unable to help them must have been painful beyond words. My heart aches for their broken hearts.


You can make a donation at Black Hills Area Community Foundation.org   The states livestock associations and the South Dakota Farm Buruea are referring people to this organization for donations. I hope you will consider a donation, no matter how small.

You notice there are no photos in this post. I cannot including them. If you want to see the death and destruction you will have to seek it elsewhere.  The story broke on The Blaze and you can see photos there.  Or here at Real American Cowboy Magazine .  Here, you will only hear my words of hurt, frustration, pain, and now, a prayer for those folks.

Father, we come to you tonight with heavy hearts. The families in South Dakota that lost their livestock, and with them, their livelihood, need your comfort tonight, Father.  Please Lord be with them. Comfort them. Carry them. Ease their pain. Comfort the little ones that hurt so badly when their favorite calf or lamb dies. Comfort the ones that lost their favorite horse, or their funny little pig. Please God, be with them. And Lord, please protect the livestock that survived. Please keep them healthy and strong. Let it be that they do not suffer any additional health issues. Please Father.  And Father, I ask you to please bring your protection back to our our country. We humble ourselves before you and ask you to please care for this great land. In Jesus name, Amen.

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