THE LIFE OF A RANCH HORSE: CAGUAMA

The Spanish word for loggerhead sea turtle–caguama–is also Mexican slang for a 32 ounce bottle of beer, the connection being, presumably, that the further down the bottle one drinks, the more it comes to resemble its aquatic namesake. The fleabitten grey gelding who has been part of the Ranchlands remuda for over a decade seems to have earned the distinction of this same name (pronounced ca-wa-ma) as a nod to his lanky conformation and smooth disposition.

Cauguama has always been a bit of a loner. Often found on his won, he is comfortable in his own company but gets along amicably in a group of horses following the lead band. Never in the front, never asking for much attention.

Despite his unassuming nature though, a certain aura of myth and legend surround his younger years in the stories traded by our staff, as with all animals whose tenure at Ranchlands has preceded and lasted longer than their own. He is notably nearly toothless, and the alleged explanations behind his unfortunate dentistry work range wildly, from tales of roping coyotes, being spooked by rattlesnakes, to crashing into a corral fence during relay races (turns out it was actually the intern rider who lost a couple of teeth in the true telling of that story).

But one thing’s for sure about Caguama, according to Duke III, who bought him from a ranch in Lamar, Colorado, many years ago. “He could run. And run fast and for a long time.” He was a favorite for the horseback bison gathers on the Medano-Zapata Ranch for this reason. “We would run bison into the trap from long distances. You could always see him clearly through the dust because of his white coat and because, most of the time, he’d be up front where there wasn’t any dust.”

He has spent the last of his working years in New Mexico at the MP ranch. Today, Cagauma enjoys a well-deserved retirement, grazing peacefully in the East Powell pasture with the other retired horses. “You can still see him from a way off,” Duke remarks, “his white coat a shining light on the hill reminding me of his considerable strength and stamina, that he never needed attention called to, his friendly demeanor and his dependability which at times we all have taken for granted.”

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