Tales from the Outback

Getting asked to play a part in the “Custer’s Last Stand” reenactment was definitely an honor! June 25, 1876 will forever be remembered as the day that the greatest Union Cavalry General and his entire command was annihilated by the largest force of Sioux and Cheyenne Warriors ever assembled.
My nephew, Wyatt, and I traveled to Hardin, Mont. to participate in the reenactment of the battle. Wyatt was a foot soldier while I rode in the 7th Cavalry on my swift horse named “Conk.”
We spent three nights sleeping in my horse trailer, and three grueling days in the saddle. Conk raced every horse he could, from thoroughbred to Indian pony. Conk isn’t the nicest horse to ride, but he can flat cover ground.
     The Crow Tribe is the local Indian Tribe. These people are the descendants of the Indian Scouts for the 7th Cavalry. The Sioux were getting pushed west by white settlement, and they were invading Crow Territory. The friction between the Crow and the Sioux/Cheyenne Tribes lead to the Crow joining the side of the US Army. To this day the Crow Indian Tribe boosts the highest record of military service on a per capita basis of any ethnic group in America. So it was a bit ironic that the parts of the Warriors in this reenactment were played by local Crow Indians, riding bareback on their ponies.
Later this fall or perhaps this winter, the History Channel expects to run a segment on this reenactment. If you watch it, look for the trooper carrying his reins in his teeth while he fires his rifle at a full gallop, that would be me. In an attempt to maintain the post-battle adrenaline rush, a friend and myself raced our ponies into town where we rode our horses into the bar, talked with locals, and jumped some irrigation canals. Not sure that town is ever gonna be the same.
Blasting past some of the fastest horses in Montana has me very excited about racing Conk at the “Saddle Horse Race” in Lower Brule in August. (The great part about that deal is you can take any horse, you don’t need a trainer, or a trainer’s permit, and you can be your own jockey.)
That’s the best part of the Rez. They don’t let a bunch of nonsense get in the way of fun. For example, at that reenactment in Montana, nobody had to sign any waiver, nobody checked your equipment, there was no paperwork of any kind. They simply expected any participants who showed up to be able to handle their horse at a full sprint, in traffic, while shooting guns, through whooping Indians wearing war paint. The horses didn’t know it was fake. They bucked, they pitched, they reared and they screamed as dust and mayhem kicked up everywhere. Dust pierced our lungs, cannons roared, and smoke filled the air. Kinda like going back in time to a wonderful world where folks didn’t bury their noses into their phones every waken moment and the dreaded word “Liability” didn’t exist.

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