Hooves and saddles

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One day in spring we drove up to a mountain ranch to bring back a cow. Susie , the jersey cow, had been pasturing up there and now it was time to bring her to my pasture. Probably spring is beautiful everywhere, but it seems extra great to us in the Southwest where, for months, we have no rain at all. Last winter we had more than our share and this created a season filled with green grass, blazing wildflowers, and overflowing streams.

It was a beautiful sunny day to be traveling anywhere. The sky above the mountains was decorated with the billowy type of white clouds which look strong enough to bounce upon. The ranch where Susie was staying had wide meadows, ponds, and the kinds of mountain oaks that don't grow down here. We were just below the pine belt.

It turned out that there was a lot of activity at the ranch. Cattle were being gathered to be taken to another ranch, cowboys were riding hard and fast. We sat down on a log to watch the show, and the rancher's wife with some of her children joined us. She was both amused and half-way provoked.

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"Look at those idiots. They always do this. See that gate over there? I told them that all they needed to do was to move the cattle slow and easy, put them through that gate and they'd have them. They've been chasing that big black bull for two days and they haven't got him yet, and I wonder if they ever will. But these men never pay attention to anything a woman tells them. . . ."

We could agree, having witnessed similar situations ourselves. Anyway it was all hilarious and it was a joy to watch well trained cowhorses. These were quarter horses, so called because they are fast on a quarter mile sprint. These knew what they were doing so well that they could have gone through their paces without a guiding hand on the reins. When one needed to make a sharp turn he lifted his front hoofs, pivoted on his back ones, turned in a second, and put on speed. After much shouting and waving of ropes, the animals that were to stay were cut out from the bunch to go, but the big black bull preferred not to be mixed up in any of this confusion.

"We'll need to rope him," someone shouted, and three horsemen went in pursuit.

Said the ranch wife, "After being chased for two days that bull has got too wise for them. They could have saved themselves a lot of hard riding if they'd listened to me in the first place."

Than came an hilarious shout. A cowboy had roped the bull neatly, taken a daily around a sturdy oak. "We got him!"

But the bull thought otherwise. The rope snapped as easily as string, and before anyone could head him off he went his way with thundering speed.

The rider lamented, "Oh I wisht I'd used my new rope instead of this old one.But I thought it would hold. It always did before."

Isn't that just like a man?" asked the rancher's wife.

Susie, who had been watching the show from a safe distance, was not alarmed. Being a well brought up pet cow she had no objections about being loaded into a trailer and hauled home.

My amusing day was not over. That evening I turned on the national news and was further amused. The commentator was talking about his recent trip west. He informed us about modern ranches where a cowboy no longer rides a horse. He uses a jeep or a helicopter when he wants to move cattle from one place to another.

Apparently a cowboy never sees a horse except in the movies and this bit of news left me in a state of hilarity.

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