Cowboys always find a way.
“Well, we might have to take the SUP-joring to the arena. What do you think?” Chase, Garryn, and Krit were new Hala Gear believers.
“That board’s pretty dang tough! I have to admit, but how does it do on land?” Krit inquired.
“Well, the boards can take a beating, but when we do see any air leaks, it’s from people dragging their boards across a parking lot as they go from their cars to the water,” I informed them. “It’s not definite, but we certainly advise against it.”
Prepping the Horse
The boys looked at each other. “Suit up, Krit! You’re on deck!” Chase said and hustled off to saddle up Shaq, a beautiful white stallion.
Krit dusted off his pearl snap shirt. “I think… I think I am suited up. This oughta do”. We giggled a bit and assured him he looked ready. “You’re gonna need to get that horse ready! Shaq’s not gonna like that board much, you know.”
Krit was right. Shaq, a majestic presence, was very weary of the board, just as McFlurry had been. With great patience and incredible horsemanship, we watched as Chase worked to get Shaq acquainted with the board and even got Shaq to stand on the board.
After about an hour of us stubbornly encouraging Shaq, he finally walked across it and pranced his horse as a definitive exclamation mark as if to say, “Alright! There you have it!” We applauded and accepted the horse's efforts and courage.
Just like Snowboarding
With the horse ready, Chase and Krit figured out the logistics of dragging the board and the rider through the freshly groomed arena dirt. They decided to knot the rope around the nose of the board.
“So…Just like snowboarding? Surfing?” He hesitated as he positioned his feet for maximum security.
“Up to you. You could do a staggered stance, feet under your shoulders, or surf stance, however, you’re most comfortable. Just clench your core and bend your knees. You got this. You’re an athlete,” I encouraged.
Krit shuffled his feet, settled on the board, and gave Chase a nod. Chase clicked his tongue, and Shaq started in a trot. Krit jolted and walked the line of the board but held on as Ali, Jaime, and I cheered. The boys pulled the board in “arena surfing” for close to 15 minutes before they lost interest.
“Alright, maybe that’ll do it?” Chase asked. I jogged up to the board to examine the seams. They were tattered and torn, but the double welding had held strong from what I could tell. A smile crept across my face as I lowered my head so as not to gloat again. This board really was crushing it. “Well, I think we just win, guys. I don’t think you’re going to pop this sucker.”
The Cowboys Find A Way
Chase, being a competitor, was not going to take that. They looked the board over and brainstormed and plotted a few more ideas, but nothing could stick.
“Ah! Fine! Can I just stab it?” Chase asked.
I giggled and shrugged the fantasy off.
“I’m serious! We have done everything. I’ve been thinking about it when I feed in the mornings. I have this huge urge to drive the spikes right through it!” His eyes glistened, and I could tell he’d really been visualizing it.
“Umm…. I’m not sure. It’s a nice board… I don’t know.” I stammered
“Oh, come on, you were willing to let it die anyway! It’s got tracks all over it now; let us do it!” Krit antagonized.
“Well…” I looked at the trusty Hala Straight Up. She’d been run over, dragged behind horses, walked on by animals, and run ragged around the ranch. Her bright blue rails held her shape true. I’d grown pretty fond of the board, I wasn’t sure I could say goodbye. I looked at Jaime and Ali, our photo and video crew, who had been through it all with me.
“He is right; we were willing to let it die.” Ali waivered, leaning towards her husband Chase’s ambition.
I turned to Jaime. We both nodded and agreed. We could let the board go. “Fire up your tractor, Chase; let’s finish this thing.” I ran my hand along the edge of the board as if to say, “Good job, ol’ girl. You’ve done us proud”.
We positioned her on a stack of round hay bales as darkness was settling in the valley. The night air nipped us with the bite of the coming winter that hung to its fringes. Chase positioned the tractor in front of the bales with the four long spikes pointing straight at its target.
The Final Breath
I admired the beautiful board one last time, then gave him a nod. A smile ignited across his stoic demeanor, and he put the tractor in gear. I held my breath as the four spikes approached the Straight Up. “Ppsssooowww!!!!!!” The air escaped the Straight Up's lungs as she took her final breath, and I exhaled along with it as we put our friend to rest. It was an oddly valiant ending to a magnificent board.
Chase threw both hands in the air and shook the spikes of the tractor, trying to release the board corpse. He eventually had to get out and rip the bladder of the board off the tractor.
He victoriously stomped on the board and looked us square in the eye. “I broke the board!” He giggled and shrugged his Carhart jacket up to his ears as his weeks-long battle with the Hala Straight Up had come to an end.
A smile absorbed my grief, and I hugged my friend as he was relinquished from a competitor he couldn’t take down. We all hugged and reminisced about the fun of getting ranchy with Hala.
The Origins of Ranch Tough
My little brother and I first came up with the idea of “Hala – ranch edition” paddling the Yampa River town run this spring. I ran the thought past Peter, Hala’s founder and owner, and he thought it was a riot, but we floundered with the thoughts of “What does it have to do with our boards?” along with “Will anyone care?”
At the end of the day, the Straight Up did what Hala boards do best. Brought together a hodge podge of people to have a good time. Doing this series was a welcomed break from my typical accounting work.
Our Warehouse Manager, Jaime, seized the opportunity to hone her photography and videography skills. Then, our Marketing Department took all the discombobulated pieces and compiled them into a cohesive campaign.
My ranch friends stepped in, living by their values of helping friends no matter what, even after working 14-hour days. The whole experience will forever be one of my favorite things I’ve done at Hala.
Thank you to those who have followed the series. We appreciate it, and we hope you can see that Hala is not just tough. It’s Ranch Tough.