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

Eighty athletes compete at Biathlon BC Cup race in Quesnel

Two-day event at Hallis Lake features beginners, national-calibre racers and recreational athletes

Column: This and that for seniors in Quesnel

Regular Observer columnist Ruth Scoullar writes about what’s happening and shares some good advice

Forestry Hockey League Highlights: Week 17

Bear Communications and Fraser River GM notch key wins

British Columbia Rodeo Association releases tentative 2019 schedule

The BCRA season opens with the Williams Lake Indoor Rodeo April 26-28, comes to Quesnel July 19-21

Quesnel Women’s Resource Centre wins $500 for Deeds Well Done

There were 28 nominations to the campaign in Quesnel

UPDATE: B.C. legislature managers accused of excessive travel, personal expense claims

Clerk Craig James, security chief Gary Lenz call allegations ‘completely false’

B.C. man fined $10,000 after leaving moose to suffer before death

Surrey man was convicted last week on three Wildlife Act charges

‘Blue Monday’ isn’t real, but depression can be

CMHA encourages people to prioritize their mental health

Anti-pipeline group wants NEB to consider impact of emissions, climate change

Stand.earth filed NEB motion asking to apply same standard to the project as it did with Energy East pipeline

Parole granted for drunk driver who killed B.C. RCMP officer

Kenneth Jacob Fenton will be able to attend alcohol abuse treatment, nearly three years after crash that killed Const. Sarah Beckett

B.C. man charged in 2014 snake venom death of toddler

Henry Thomas was taking care of the North Vancouver girl the day before she died

B.C.’s largest public-sector union wants inquiry into money laundering, drugs

Union officials say Premier John Horgan and Attorney General David Eby have not ruled out the possibility of a public inquiry

Teen in confrontation with Native American: I didn’t provoke

Nick Sandmann of Covington Catholic High School said he was trying to defuse the situation

Cariboo man pleads guilty to second degree murder in death of former girlfriend

Michael Martel admits to violent attack on Vesna Dumpstrey-Soos in 100 Mile House

Most Read