Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Happy Landings

Its fall and that is the time that all the cattle on the ranch go thru processing, then weaning begins. I missed the processing, but had a good day on the 2nd day of the weaning process, so me and Wimpy rode out with #5 kid and started gathering cattle out of the very large field where they had pushed about 400 pair in the night before.

We got the bunch started on the west side of the irrigation ditch, and crossed over to push the bigger group to the North, towards the corrals. Three other riders met up with us on the other side, and Wimpy and I went back across the ditch and continued with the first group of cows. Things went pretty well, we got them all thru the gates, and headed down thru the ‘trap’. When it came time for them to pass thru another gate, the bulls all turned back and the whole herd started going backwards, with me, #5 and a cowboy all trying to get them turned back around, while boss and another cowboy held fast behind…finally they all started milling the right direction again and we made it to the corrals in good time.

We spent the rest of the morning sorting out the bulls, cows and calves into different corrals, the bulls were loaded on a truck and driven to the other end of the ranch, the cows were pushed out into a big pasture, and the calves were then run thru the chutes and vaccinated, and smaller or sickly calves were separated off to go to a pasture behind our house, while the others stayed in a field next to the cows, to be weaned. All in all, it was a great day.

This morning, we were up and at ‘em again early. I left a sore-footed Wimpy behind and grabbed one of my other horses, Tuco, who was feeling a wee bit fresh. Not to worry, he has never bucked in his life, but he needs riding anyway, as he is very “green”. He’s a tad herdbound and can be a little obnoxious when I ride away from the other horses to do our ‘circle’,but he has always been a pretty good boy, my biggest problem has been in sagebrush, where he often decides to go his own direction and we have some disagreements and near ‘parting of the ways”, but nothing ever too serious.

Our nephew is one of the cowboys here now, so he and I proceeded to ride down and start moving pairs toward the corral again. On the way, we were talking about getting bucked off, and how we land, getting hung in a stirrup, etc. He mentioned he always lands on his head (which he does) and I always land on my left side, which is worrisome, as I have broken those ribs and punctured the same lung twice. But that wasn’t my problem today as Tuco doesn’t buck, and said nephew was riding his really broke horse, ‘Bob’.

We long trotted about a mile and nephew went to push the cows on the West side, while I rode across the ditch and started kicking back the bigger group. Things were NOT going smoothly. His cows came across, two other riders had made it to the far side and the cows were wanting to all go the wrong way. I started back toward the fence where he and Bob were, as he trotted across another drainage ditch to turn some errant ones in the right direction. Tuco, being ‘herd bound’, tried to bolt, so I set him down hard. I saw Bob falter in the ditch, and nephew sailed over the ‘dashboard’ headfirst. I watched from afar, as he got up, remounted and continued. Tuco and I turned back around and went to head off some cows that were trying to head West again when all of a sudden Tuco started bucking…not out of playfulness, or being fresh, but with determination to get rid of me.
I don’t remember much about landing. I know I counted 3 jumps, as I consciously made sure NOT to jab him with a spur, as I pulled his head up…I also remember my foot being caught in the stirrup, and being pulled by the ‘come along’ on my reins before they came loose, and Tuco headed back for the ranch at top speed, minus a stirrup, bit, bridle and rider.

I had slammed down on my left side again, and was pulled about 6 feet before the long end of my mecate (a type of rein) came loose. I popped up to my feet, to reassure everyone I had not broken anything, and not long after, a 4 wheeler came to my rescue. Tuco, in the meantime, covered about a mile and a half of pasture in record time, and the Irrigator had found him and fashioned a halter out of what was left of my mecate and tied him to the fence.

Once we caught up to him, I saw that the left stirrup was gone, and the saddle fender was torn in half, my bridle was not only broken, but the metal ring of the snaffle bit was busted and was now a straight bar. Both pieces of equipment were rendered unusable without expensive repair. 

The good news is, nothing important was broke…apparently, not even my horse.