NickerViews is a series of interviews with horse folks in the Cayuse Communications family. These interviews consist of 14 set questions. Our next interviewee is Zach Rhoades.
Aside from representing title sponsor, Patagonia WorkWear, at the Best Horse Practices Summit, last month, Rhoades is an accomplished photographer and producer for Lost River Film Company. He’s also a fly fishing guide and packer who often heads into Washington’s rugged North Cascades to hunt and fish the high alpine lakes. He lives with his wife Lauren, working a small hobby-farm on the Teanaway River near Cle Elum, WA.
Tell us about yourself and your life with horses.
Horses cows and rodeo are in my family’s history, but I didn’t grow up with it first hand. At 15, I started working as a hand for a guy who had a small herd of cows. I learned a lot about ranching and raising beef, but I always wanted to work cows horseback. I took it upon myself to learn how to ride, so when the day came I’d be ready. I knew a gal who ran barrels on the rodeo circuit for years, who had a barn and boarding operation with 20+ horses. I rode her horses and took lessons from her for a few years, trading her work for ride time. At the time I was also guiding fly fishing, and so I decided to start a program to take folks into the backcountry lakes to fish via horseback and mule strings. From the first trip, I loved it, and I learned to pack.
Nowadays, I’m getting my place ready to someday own and train my own horses, God willin’. I still pack a bit, and eventually want to team rope and work cows. Love being around horses, and I pick up on it quick, just slowly trying to have more of it in my life everyday.
2. Do you like group rides or riding solo? Why?
Solo, or one or two others. I’m a small-group kinda guy. It feels like more quality time. I also got a bit burned out of group rides from all the greenhorns riding on pack trips.
3. What do you recall has your finest horsemanship moment?
I don’t know, just anytime I applied things I had learned from books and videos in the arena and it worked. Also I had a horse slip really bad on a very steep part of trail and I jumped off and kinda pulled him up and ran up the trail to help save him and get him right. He was banged up, but it was good instinct to get off. Otherwise the wreck coulda been worse.
4. What’s your worst horsemanship moment?
Anytime you get angry and lose temper and whip ’em or slap ’em, when you know it’s about you and not the horse.
5. What frustrates you most in the horse world?
Folks using horses as pets and talking to them too much like they’re human and sayin’ what the horse is thinking. Drives me nuts. Also, it seems it’s a lot of women in the horse world, and not a lot of men interested.
6. What inspires you most in the horse world?
Just the idea of the freedom and fun of being horseback, and its a pursuit you can never conquer or master, but will always have something to learn.
7. Tell us about your favorite hat/helmet when riding? Why?
Stetson 10x. Found at a garage sale in Alaska, for 10 bucks, had worm holes chewed in it. It’s been with me on all my pack trips. and also King Saddlery trucker hat. Got it as a birthday present, red white and blue, its absolutely worn to shreds. It’s one of these two hats every time I ride.
8. What kind of saddle to you prefer to ride in? Please describe.
Don’t care. I’ve probably been on 30 different horses with 30 different saddles. All the same really.
9. What’s in your saddle bag?
First aid, water, camera, lunch.
10. What’s your favorite ingredient as trail food?
11. What’s ingredient will wreck an otherwise delicious trail mix?
12. Where would you like to be (in the horse world/with your horses and horsemanship) in 5 years?
Owning, trail riding, starting and training, and roping. Whew! Not gonna happen, but maybe..
13. What’s something on your bucket list?
Legitimately working cows for a ranch, gathering out of the range, and working brandings. The old school way.
14. What’s the most recent thing you’ve learned (related to horse work).
I learned a lot at BHPS.. lot of things I didn’t know. I think it actually solidified some things I already knew or was practicing, so that was cool, made me feel good. But also that I don’t know much and have a long way to go. And I learned that there’s tricks to learn from any horse group or discipline.