The Long Riders' Guild

Belly up to the Bar!

by Verne Albright

Verne Albright decided in the 1960s to introduce the Peruvian Paso breed to the United States, and prove the animals’  toughness at the same time.  So he rode them there. 

Readers should note that Verne is 6’8” tall.

This is an extract from Verne’s excellent book, “The Long Way to Los Gatos”. 

Panama was the first country in Latin America where I had seen semi-truck-and-trailer rigs.  The drivers seemed unaware of the effect their vehicles can have on horses, and most didn’t move over when they passed us.  The roar of their engines was deafening, and the huge trailers created powerful wind currents that pushed and pulled at us.  It surprised me that Hamaca seemed unconcerned when one of these giants passed within a few feet of us, all eighteen tires screaming and sending chills up and down my spine.  That was a welcome change from her shenanigans in Ecuador’s traffic.

I spent the next night in a small storage room behind a combination general store and saloon.  After buying supplies at the general store, I glanced into the adjoining saloon.  The store had been unremarkable, but the saloon was a different story.  I stepped inside to take a better look.  Hardly an expert on drinking establishments, I was pretty sure I’d never see another like it.

At that moment there were no customers.  Neither were there stools, chairs or any furnishings other than an extraordinarily tall bar.  If I had bellied up to it, I would barely have been able to see over, not to mention that I would have had very sore shoulders if I’d spent much time resting my elbows on the top.  The bartender stood on a raised floor on the opposite side.  He reminded me of a judge looking down on a defendant.

“Why is the bar so tall?” I asked.

“You’ll know as soon as you see a customer come through the door,” the bartender answered with a mysterious smile.

The saloon had two doors.  The one that connected it with the general store was unremarkable.  The other, which opened onto the street, could easily have admitted a truck.

“Couldn’t you just tell me why everything is so big around here?” I asked.

“You’ll soon see,” he assured me.

I looked down at the packed dirt floor and up at the ceiling, high above me.  It was a puzzle worthy of Sherlock Holmes.  In a land where few were taller than I had been in the fourth grade, here was a saloon of dimensions that dwarfed me.  True to the bartender’s promise, the mystery was solved with the arrival of customers.  They rode through the spacious door on horses and proceeded to the oversized bar where they were served while still sitting in their saddles.

Albright.JPG (36390 bytes)

Verne Albright was one of the first North Americans to be captivated by the Peruvian Paso horses, and was instrumental in introducing them to the United States.

Click on picture to enlarge.

“May we buy you a drink?” one said when he noticed me.

“Thank you very much,” I responded, “but I don’t drink.”

The man looked at me, his face carefully twisted into an expression indicating that my answer meant I couldn’t be trusted.

“A soft drink?” he offered.

“That sounds wonderful,” I accepted, stepping up to the bar after speculating about what he might think if I went to get one of my horses first.

The bartender overlooked (so to speak!) the fact that I appeared to be a child standing on his knees in a hole.  He leaned forward and reached down to hand me a cola.

To order a copy of “The Long Way to Los Gatos”, click here or call (403) 936-3185.

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