In this new series called “Lifers,” we interview equestrians who have spent the better part of their lives in the saddle or involved with horses in some way. Are you or do you know a lifer? Send us your story to hello(at)heelsdownmedia.com.
Bobbi Wade was born and raised around horses. With over 40 years in not only horses, but the adventure tourism industry, much of Bobbi’s life has been spent on the back of a horse. Not the only horseman in her family, Bobbi met her husband during her childhood years during the spring brandings. With her husband, Bobbi runs Blue Sky Sage Horseback Adventures, where guests can adventure on horseback through the Great Divide Basin and the western foothills of the Wind River mountains in Wyoming.
A Family Legacy
Horses are everything to me. They’re my family legacy. My great grandfather, when he came out here in the late 1800’s, he came out here from New York and became a cowboy right off the bat. When he got started, his boss actually staked him with a few horses and a small ranch. He raised horses and worked them on the ranch. My mother and my grandfather did that as well, and were in partnership with raising horses. My father was a cowboy, still is actually. When my dad married my mother, they started raising horses together. We grew up riding horses that they raised. He always required that we help out around the farm and with his horses. I started going out with him when I was really little to help and ride. We grew up working cattle on the ranch. My dad competed locally roping, so as we got a bit older we learned to rope for the ranch and we competed as well. Part of our fun was competing roping. I did breakout cattle, a little bit of barrel racing and pole bending, goat tying, and team roping. Pretty much from the time I was 10 and up through college.
When we were in high school, we used our ranch horses for the rodeo. Despite that, I actually placed in a couple go arounds at the state level. That was really exciting and a big milestone for me. It had so much to do with how well trained my roping horses were, and that was all my dad’s doing. I’m lucky to have grown up riding those horses. That was a really big deal to me.
From The Ranch To Backcountry
Horses have been a constant in my life. Now as an adult, when I got married after college, my career with my husband took me into the backcountry on wilderness pack trips, wilderness hunting caps; everything we did on horses. I think our hunting camp was a 56 mile trek in, it took us about two days to get in there. Everything had to be done on horses and mules. I used to wrangle the horses, my main job was to cook but my other job was wrangling, catching, and saddling. I was around several hundred heads of horses over those years, of all different stripes. They were all different degrees of being trained and broke. We worked through an assortment of outfitters over the years, but the horses have been a constant, and led to us starting our own wilderness hunting and pack trip business. We started our adventure ride business together in 2010.
We had been doing hunting camps and pack trips for many years, and got burnt out on that. We wanted to get back to being able to ride when we were kids on the ranch, rather than having to lead a bunch of pack horses. We geared our current rides to a little bit more experienced horseman and we do a lot more long trotting and loping so there’s more challenge. We also do a lot of horsemanship instruction, which is a big benefit to our business and improving the adventure rides. Every day we go out with guests and help everybody learn.
Any given day, it’s amazing to be out on top of a big open ridge out here on the wide open spaces of Wyoming. There’s nothing like riding up and seeing a band of wild horses. It never gets old to be able to do that, and to be able to see several hundred miles across the country. One other notable thing I did when I was young, my husband and I rode out of our main hunting camp 56 miles in 13 miles with the pack horses. That was a major deal.
Being In The Moment
I think the number one thing horses have taught me is that you have to be in the moment all the time. If you let your attention wander, the opportunity for negative things to happen multiplies tenfold. You can’t take any chances with horses and being paying attention all the time. With any horse, be it right out of the colt pen or something you’ve had for 10 or 15 years,you can’t ever assume anything. You can’t take anything for granted with any horse.