I have been wondering  what  drew me to Chama recently …I haven’t been there in quite a few years! Yet last week while spending a couple days in Abiquiu, I felt compelled to drive to Chama and turn in at the barns on the Mundy Ranch. No one was around, and we merely drove in and back out again, but it began a flood of memories that are continuing non-stop with the news that Bill has passed.

I am sure there are thousands of people out there with stories to tell about Bill and Ethel. My particular story began with a phone call from a mutual acquaintance, Bob Massengill. He said a friend of his was there looking for some young, big geldings for his ranch, and Bob thought I might have an idea of what was for sale in the area.

Bill and I spent the day looking at the horses that were available, but only one caught his eye. A big 5yr old that I was hoping to make a jumper out of. “Hank” was young, big , strong, and physically sound, but he had a number of issues, not the least of which was his habit of breaking in two and bucking his heart out with no warning!

The facts didn’t deter Bill in the least…this was the horse he wanted. Hank was big and strong, and had no white feet, which was an important attribute in Bill’s eyes.

We were having a bit of trouble seeing eye to eye on the price. I was hoping to get a show horse price, but Bill was only going to pay the going rate for ranch geldings. So we decided a trade was going to be the way to go. Little did I know what a horse trade with Bill Mundy was going to entail. WHAT A TRIP! The actual business deal started in early summer, but wasn’t finalized til October. The results of this deal have lasted for 25 yrs!

Bill definitely wanted Hank, so I told him to go ahead and take him to the ranch, and he could bring me another horse in trade. So, over a period of time Bill brought me several horses and ponies which didn’t fit my needs. Then one day he showed up with a nice big gelding. The first thing I noticed was that he had 3 white socks Bill swore that was why he didn’t want to keep the horse himself. This horse appeared to be what I was looking for, so now we had to finalize the deal. A matter of just signing papers and deciding how much , if any, cash would change hands? HAH! Nope. My fiancé and I loped on up to Bill’s ranch . First we went and had a look at Hank, who Bill swore was now one of his best horses, except that every few weeks he took a bucking fit and had actually pulled off his bridle during one of these fits.

“Look at his eyes”, Bill said. “Notice that they aren’t even, one is lower than the other. Now I don’t know what that means, but it can’t be good!”

In the course of our “trade”, we toured the ranch, saw Bills elk herd, his trees, his new fishing “cabin” on the river, the ski cabin, his hunting lodge high above theranch. We met Ethel, and sat at the house listening to Bills endless, hilarious stories. Saw his pictures and memorabilia from his many trail rides. And of course , we had to go to town for steak before the deal could be finalized.

The terms? I would get the horse with 3 white stockings, some cash, and the use of his incredible hunting lodge above the Brazos for our wedding reception! Bill also offered to marry us.

Are you telling me that you are also a licensed minister?” I asked.

“What license?” he responded. “A ship’s captain can marry people, and this ranch is my ship!”

 

Yup, we were going to go along with that, but then he remembered that he and Ethel already had plans for that weekend. I believe he said they were going rafting on the San Juan river.

So we settled for the wedding reception and hired our own minster

I have some great pictures of the reception. The only thing missing was Bill!

When we left the ranch after sealing the deal, we stopped at a small bar/café on the way home. Someone asked what had brought us up that way. When I said I was buying a horse from Bill, everyone shook their heads and said, look out, you won’t get the best in a horse trade with Bill Mundy!

I beg to differ…..I had that horse with the 3 white stockings for 25 yrs!He just died about 3 yrs ago at the ripe old age of 35! In that time, that horse and I worked cattle, rode in parades, competed in Dressage, jumping, and 3-day events. When he was too old to compete, he was an excellent lesson horse, and old clients from Michigan even flew West to ride him. I don’t know if Bill got the best of me in that horse deal…maybe….but I will remain forever grateful for it!

Bill Mundy had one of the largest hearts I have ever encountered, and I only wish I could buy another horse from him!