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Hemingway Adventure

Marion, Montana

Kalispell, Montana, USA 
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'Wrist and elbow'. All you need to remember when throwing a lasso, according to Ken, my rope coach.
Michael Palin - Hemingway AdventureThe American West, rather like Ernest Hemingway, has passed from reality, through legend, to cliché. The Native American tribes have been whittled away, the herds of bison have gone, and the survivor, the cowboy, has been hunted down by film producers and advertisers and designers and graphic artists so it’s hard to know what the real thing is any more.

I think of this as I find myself in the saddle - never a comfortable place for me - on a Palomino stallion called Pal, heading slowly out across long, green grass to which the morning mist still clings, behind Randy, the sort of cowboy Marlboro’ would die for. He’s lean, which pretty much goes with the job - cowboys seem to be conspicuously thinner than the rest of America - laconic and laid-back. Randy’s introductory remarks in the paddock featured good sense rather than dire warning, and formal horsemanship was emphasised less than doing what comes naturally.

I’ve always had a mild aversion to being lifted off the ground (maybe my father dropped me when young) and I would unhesitatingly nominate the camel as my least favourite method of transport, but today, less than an hour after swinging on to the broad back of this distinctive pale tan horse, I’m not only trotting along like Roy Rogers, but I’m about to do a real cowboy’s job.

The Hargrave Ranch is a working farm with 320 head of cattle. Some of them are loose and we’re on our way to round them up. We’ve been told how to make the horse turn left or right, and stop, but it seems a bit of a leap from this to rounding-up. We enter a wooded area full of young pine and as Pal concentrates on picking his way through a web of fallen trees, I concentrate on keeping my hat on and my eyeballs in as the branches flick viciously at my face.
Kalispell, Montana, USA 
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Dude posse heads out.
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  • Series: Hemingway Adventure
  • Chapter: Marion, Montana
  • Country/sea: USA
  • Place: Marion, Montana
  • Book page no: 245

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