Traveling as much I do; it is not unusual for me to make comparisons. For instance, the Salt Lake airport has the cleanest bathrooms and best breakfast stops compared to other airports. But Wyoming has a few places topped. Like authentic superstition. Where else do you find people who speak their mind as easily as they do in Wyoming? Wyoming people have thick skin.
At first, I thought it was a cultural thing. I grew up in Montana in the middle of nowhere, so I am always careful to remember that my assumptions can lay somewhere between being right and wrong, and wild horses could not change my mind.
Like my belief that humans should not be able to walk with their pants buckled around their ankles. Seeing that the first time and that they even text at the same time, completely unnerved me because my rational brain said someone had to do that first for it to be replicated. Therefore, I’ve rationalized the trauma by labeling it with my customary, post-it notes style assumption. California is the state with the most underwear showing.
Now, I admit my assumptions might be wrong. Skewed even. Admittedly, I prefer to spend my time underneath a horse with my high-speed, 200 MHz grinder.
I suppose if I really thought about that, someone saltier than I might think me stupid. A woman, underneath a horse, with a high-speed power tool. What could go wrong?
My work gets me into a lot of different places, and I haven’t died yet, so I guess I have to live and let live on some things.
I’ll work on people’s horses just about anywhere. Old garages, chicken coops and in corrals filled with last year’s cow poop spilling over my boots. Especially in a barn, out in nature.
But what I won’t do is work on horses in real, Wyoming, authentic wind. That’s my hard limit. I need my eyeballs to see and work.
Wind is a relative term, though. You haven’t experienced wind until you’ve experienced Wyoming wind. Wyoming is where the rubber meets the road. If you aren’t real about the wind when you arrive, Wyoming will get to be authentic about what you think is wind and what is Wyoming wind, really quick. Wyoming is, hands down, the state with the most wind.
I used to think that Colorado had the jumpiest horses, Idaho the meanest, Montana the toughest and Texas the softest. Florida the most mold resistant and Maine the most waterproof.
But Wyoming has them all beat. Nowhere in the world can you find jumpier, meaner, tougher, or softer hearted, harder working, weather resistant horses than in Wyoming.
I was on a trip recently to Colorado to do my rounds there and despite having traveled over 200 miles to get to the area where a group of humans and horses waited, I had the one client that day who called me at 5 a.m. in the morning to cancel. You guessed it. Because of wind.
I almost let loose a torrential string of windy words myself but held my tongue. I used to think the wind was bad, too, until I moved to Wyoming.
Down in Colorado nobody hesitates to say the word wind.
In Wyoming, you don’t say the word wind. Ever.
Wyoming’s wind is our version of a national sport. The only rules are stay upright and never, ever, open your car door without checking the wind. If you can master the rules, you can pretty much consider yourself a survivor.
I stepped outside and finger tested the wind. I’d say it was a nod toward wind. One click on the Wyoming wind scale with hurricane force of 195 mph being the beginning of red line.
And then it hit me, Wyoming has the most superstitious, authentic people.
A real cowboy or girl is also called a good hand, but you don’t get one label without the other.
A truck is a semi, and a pick-up truck is the domestic kind.
Beer is as good as whiskey as long as both are being passed freely.
And you don’t know wind unless you know Wyoming wind.
Surviving the wind is Wyoming’s local sport and I am particularly good at it.
I get by the old-fashioned way. Admit defeat, beg for mercy and a handout.
Genuinely authentic, the good people at Eastern Wyoming College have given me a place to live out my dream of trimming horses, in Wyoming, indoors. I do not have to trim horses in the Wyoming wind on May 8th. Instead, I get to teach about that dream from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the new, modern, EWC ATEC building. Indoors and climate controlled. Now… I am still bringing my power tools.
Karina Lewis is a Wyoming horsewoman, farrier and author whose past time is spent helping humans and horses. She can be reached at [email protected] or through her website at www.hoofmedix.com.