Wikimedia Commons/Bill Gillette, Environmental Protection Agency photo

Column: the games ranch and country kids used to play

Regular columnist David Zirnhelt remembers games played on the ranch

In have been musing for sometime about what games we used to play as children growing up in Cariboo country.

Many of our games would go on day after day for weeks, after school and on weekends.

One of our favourites involved teams from the “neighbourhood,” up to a mile in any direction. It was called “lock in the boxstall”. A boxstall is a 16’ by 16’ stall in which a stallion might be kept safe from unwanted breeding and fighting.

Also the boxstall was common for keeping a mare that was about to foal, so a close eye could be kept on her. A mare that has trouble has a short window for assistance, an hour or less, whereas a cow calving needs help before four hours of birthing struggle is up.

In this case, the boxstall was in the horse barn at the 150 Ranch. The teams of kids would range from four or more on each side. The idea was to get as many of the other team as possible into a boxstall and keep them there by physical force.

The idea was to have as few people as possible guarding the prisoners so that the others could try to capture more prisoners. When you had the whole other team in the stall, your team won that round.

Because the game area was played over the whole ranch stead of several hundred acres, the search and capture could take a lot of time.

On one occasion I remember that I was trying to break out one of our team members while the guard was off trying to help her team capture more of us. My plan was to slide down the hay chute from the loft into the boxstall. Loose hay was fed directly from the loft into the manger in the boxstall below.

As I climbed the loft ladder to descend into the hay chute, the loft door flew open and the guard began beating on my fingers on the top rung of the ladder, dropping me to the ground. I was lucky to escape as she was older and faster.

She had been guarding the boxstall using long work-horse driving lines from the harnesses. It hurt to be on the end of this “whip,” which was probably 20 or more feet long. I guess I thought two of us, the prisoner and I, could overpower that show of force.

Wrong. I went off to lick my wounds, ending the game for me for that day. We would pick up the game the next day after school.

Another game of note was called “steal the rag.” This involved as many teams of bareback riders as wanted to play. The objective was simple. Keep the rag (towels are tough rags) in your team’s possession.

The faster the horses, the better to catch the person with the rag and take it away, not falling from your horse. It taught us riding skills, but was hard on the horses. Sometimes the horses would hit the other person’s and that horse might fall.

The other game we played a lot was seeing who could ride some kind of a homemade vehicle being towed by a horse rider (lariat on the horn as a tow rope) through irrigation ditches. If the rider could go across the ditch at a flat angle it was impossible for the person on the vehicle to stay on.

There were some spectacular wrecks, but no lasting injuries. The best vehicle, which my cousin made (his dad had a shop), was a baby buggy with all its springs as the back and a sturdy front wheel and frame of a heavy duty tricycle, which gave him steering ability so he could try to hit the ditch at 90 degrees, thus avoiding rolling over.

None of these games will appear in Wikipedia or Google. They remain in the annals of children’s imaginations.

David Zirnhelt is a rancher in the Cariboo and member of the Cariboo Cattlemen’s Association. He is also chair of the Advisory Committee for the Applied Sustainable Ranching Program at Thompson Rivers University Williams Lake Campus.

READ MORE DAVID ZIRNHELT: Growing in the semi-light


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

?Esdilagh First Nation receives Rural Dividend grant

The provincial funding will help ?Esdilagh develop and maintain a trail network

BC Wildfire Service fighting new fire near Comstock Lake

The fire is 76 hectares in size and currently out of control

Quesnel SPCA appeals for donations for second dog after sudden liver failure

Roxi’s medical costs are estimated to be about $3,050

Exciting egg hunt in Bouchie Lake

Up to 100 kids took part in the hunt and crafts at the Bouchie Lake Rec Centre

St. Ann’s celebrates Earth Day

Students at the Quesnel school recycled, picked up trash and planted trees

What’s age got to do with it? B.C. couple with 45-year gap talks happy marriage

An Armstrong couple that has 45-year age gap began turning heads after being featured on show Extreme Love.

B.C. men challenge constitutionality of Canada’s secret no-fly list

Parvkar Singh Dulai says he received a “denial of boarding” notification under the no-fly program last May 17

Murder on B.C. property didn’t need to be disclosed before sale, court rules

Buyer had tried to break contract after learning a man with ties to crime had been murdered there

B.C.’s largest Vaisakhi festival target of threatening Facebook post: Surrey RCMP

Police say they are investigating the posts on Facebook, after local MLA forwarded screenshots

Pug life: B.C. town boasts waggish list of dog names

Freedom-of-information request lists most ‘pupular’ dog names registered in White Rock

VIDEO: Fish farming company launches $30-million vessel to treat salmon for sea lice in B.C. waters

Freshwater treatment an improvement but fish farms should be removed from sea, says conservationist

Singh says childhood abuse steeled him for scrutiny and stress of politics

He recounts the assaults for the first time in his book Love & Courage

Despite five extra weeks’ parental leave in Canada, dads still face stigma: survey

One reason people said dads don’t need leave is because they can just bond with their kids at weekend

Vintage bottles, magic cards, a 1969 Playboy: Quirky items found in historic B.C. buildings

Crews set aside some of the funkier pieces emerging from the construction rubble

Most Read