Cowboy Romance- By Bob Kinford
Cowboy Romance CoverReviews from Western Horseman andCowboy Magazine Review
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Sample Stories
Story about cowboy  olanguage
Cowboy Literate( A lesson in "cowboyese")       story about The Mule

    Single Horse Rollover          Story about a rope release cowboy     Dazzalin Dale

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Western Horseman- March 1999

Good cowboy humor usually is wry, dry and witty. Better yet a top cowboy humorist has no fear and takes good-natured potshots at his own or any other large ego that comes within his sights. However his true talent lies in showing us how to share the laugh when we shoot ourselves, rather than someone else in the foot. In Cowboy Romance Bob Kinford has mastered the genre.

The book subtitle itself is a subtle stab at "all the Madison Avenue and Hollywood hype" about the romance of the American West. On the realistic one hand, Kinford knows there's nothing romantic about horse sweat, hornflies and a lot of the other givens in the ranch cowboy's experience. On the romantic other hand the author somewhat proudly appreciates the magnificent appeal the West and his lifestyle hold for so many and wants to share it with them from his perspective.
    As a result, Kinford makes it easy for anyone, including those who aren't ranch raised to follow the action. "Cowboy Literate", the first of his essays, entertains as it explains working cowboy terminology used throughout the book. With that as a foundation, almost any reader will be able to appreciate Kinford's other commentaries: "Da Bull and da Professor," "Bureau of Lost Minds," "As The Hairbrains Turn" and more.
    Therein lies the appeal of Cowboy Romance: Kinford never makes his reader feel ignorant for not knowing the West as he knows it, nor does he hold himself above the reader as a last, great icon of the American West. Instead he puts tongue in cheek and dares the reader to find the romance in his west.

Cowboy Magazine- Summer 1998

    If you're reading this review you must like COWBOY MAGAZINE, and if you like this magazine then you're gonna like this book. Bob Kinford has written short stories for COWBOY MAGAZINE in the past and we've got some scheduled for future issues. Kinford has a good way of telling about incidents that happen to cowboys and this book is final proof.
    Every cowboy has stories to tell and Kinford is no exception. In this neat little volume, nicely illustrated by cartoonist James Dorrance, Kinford has included 31 cowboy tales about everything from horse wrecks, to wannabe cowboys, to veterinarians to working with mules. Its fun and it's funny. We wish all cowboys could publish their stories like this.

Cowboy Literate

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Not only is cowboy life different,  the language used is different, enough so that a city friend of mine asked if it hurt the cattle when they were held in a trap. After explaining to him that a cattle trap is basically a smaller pasture in which to hold them for a short time before shipping them out on the trucks, not something which grabs them by the leg and holds them I decided that *Cowboy Romance should have an introduction to the language we use and I figure that all you city slickers and farmers surfin' cyberspace would benefit from it as well.
    One of the first things I do in the morning is to put on my chinks,  take my twine and toss a hoolihand to catch the horse I'm riding for the day,  put a hack on his head, throw on my wood and head out to work.
    In other words I put on my chaps, which are a short style called chinks. Then I shook out my rope and threw an overhand loop to catch my horse,  put a hackamore on his head, saddled him and rode off to work.
    The hackamore is a braided leather or rawhide noseband which I use in the winter and often on green horses.  No, horses don't come in that color, but they are referred to as green if they haven't been ridden much.  Referring to your saddle as your wood is comes from  the days when all saddles were built on a wooden frame or tree and covered with leather.  When asked "what type of wood you sit"  a typical reply would start with the maker, the kind of tree, size of horn, height of the cantle and how it is rigged, or cinched down to the horse.
I ride a Swanke on a Wade tree with a three and a half by four with a five inch cantle and a three quarter flat plate rigging.
    Cowboys or buckaroos will also refer to their rope as twine, or what it is made of , usually either nylon or poly.  The hoolihand is almost a forgotten loop which was used by the Spanish Vaqueros ( pronounced baaquerro) and from whence the term buckaroo was born.  Usually thrown from the ground it floats through the air and settles gently over the horse's neck.
    Now I know there are people out there thinking "Why can't they just walk out there and catch their horses like I do mine?"  The one word answer, safety. With twenty or more horses in the pen, you can't just walk out with a bucket of grain to catch a horse because all of the horses are fighting with the one you want over the grain and you are more likely to catch a stray hoof than you are your horse.  Once the horses are broke to being roped, they will walk up the rope to the roper, sometimes without the loop being closed.
     The hoolihand may also be thrown from horseback, and if a cow is on the fight it may be thrown with a twist of the wrist to catch the irritated bovine on either side, or even in back of you if it decides that it should be the pursuer and you the pursuee ( which is not an acceptable bovine trait...)
    After getting a loop on an animal you must next jerk  your slack so that the loop closes and take your dallies, or wraps around the saddle horn so that you may keep both your rope and the animal you've caught.  Another name for a dally is a rinky.  When doctoring calves you will often tie your rope to the horn which is called roping hard and fast.  In the southwest, especially Texas and New Mexico roping hard and fast was the method of choice for a lot of the old timers, figuring when you caught something either you had it... or it had you which makes for some interesting wrecks.
    Just as there are choices in whether you rope an animal on the run or toss a hoolihand before it gets going fast and whether you dally or tie off hard and fast, there is a choice of wrapping your horn with rubber or roping slick, meaning that you wrap your horn with mule hide.  Personally I prefer roping slick which allows me to slip rope to a cow relieving some of the jerk to both whatever you have roped and your horse.  When roping larger stock the rope can actually get hot enough to smoke, which kinda burns the sinuses but it beats having your horse jerked down on top of you.
    There are other reper -cussins which can happen wrapping with rubber, such as the last time I roped with it back in 77'.  I had roped a steer and got into one of those predicaments where I needed to make a CED (Calculated Emergency Dismount).  If I would have been roping slick, the rope would have burned off of the horn and that would have been the end of it.  Instead, when I hit the ground the rope bit into the rubber, and adding injury to insult, dragged the errant steer over the top of me before the rope popped off sounding like a rifle shot.
    The most roping a person does during a single day is during branding season, that is if you are lucky enough to be roping instead of on the ground crew.  Not that the ground crew is all that bad if you're running irons (branding), cutting ( castrating), dehorning or vaccinating, but if you are flanking (wrestling ) it is kind of a young man's job.  Now if the ropers are good, they go into the calves at a walk catch a calf by both heels and drag it out at a walk.
When the calf approaches the branding area it is a simple matter for one of the flankers to pick up on the rope, rolling the calf onto the proper side and the other to drop down on the front of the calf.  Then the roper gives the first flanker some slack so that he can sit  down to hold the back end and remove the rope so that the roper may go back in for another calf.
     It isn't always that easy though.  I had the (Mis) fortune to work for a short time in an area where they really farmer down when they cowboy up.  They don't bother with pulling the cows (or bulls) off of the calves before they start branding. Then they are under the impression that the faster you move the faster you get to the beer and head into the pen at a trot spinning their twine.  Now in most places this is enough to get you grounded but they also think it is perfectly ok to drag out calves roped by one leg above the hock which is a good way to injure calves or people and will get your rope cut in most places.  As an example of how it hurts people, one of the calves outran the flankers and the guy who had it roped.  I spotted it just in time to warn the guy I was flanking with, but I was a little slow and found myself with a rope around my neck which had a 1200 pound horse on one end and a 150 pound calf on the other which had me really scrambling for a second and left me looking like I barely escaped the hangman's noose.
    I also worked one area where they didn't use ropers, the flankers just waded into the calves where one would grab a head and the other the tail, "walk" it out to the branding area before flanking it down.  About the only way any of us could get any body fat was to eat a bucket of lard.
     Some outfits tend to rely on mechanical means of moving cattle rather than horses.  I worked for one rancher who was an ex-crop duster and an absolute genius with an airplane.  I have seen him fly directly at cattle with his landing gear inches above the sage and pull it into  a vertical climb, making a graceful fall to the side in a hammerhead stall and plummet straight down to the cattle and then going straight back up again, sometimes three or four times in the same place.
     Of course there would always be a few which wouldn't be the least bit impressed by these aviatic aerobatics and would simply bolt into the brush. Once they were "brushed up", or hidden in the brush it would be up to me to take my dogs into the brush and bring them out.  This is always an interesting task as sometimes you come out of the brush with more cattle than you expected. Once I rode through a pasture on the road without seeing a single cow.  I rode back through the pasture in the brush with my two dogs working on either side of me, again without seeing a single cow.  Yet when I came out of the brush rather than having the hundred head I was looking for there were over three hundred head. Needless to say there was something slightly amiss.
    Then there are the times we must play veterinarian.  This can be frustrating at times because there are always cattle which are reluctant to go down the alleys and into the squeeze chute which is called so because it squeezes the entire body of the cow, except for the head which sticks out the front so that it can swing around and flatten some cowboy's face for not paying attention.
    When a cow refuses to go down the alley it is likely to get hit with a hot shot.  This instrument is similar to a stun gun on low batteries and gives the errant cow an incentive to go forward and into the chute.  While some people think this is an inhumane way to treat cattle I had a friend who used to delight in demonstrating that it wasn't.  To do this he would shock himself on the underside of the wrist and laugh as his fingers went into spasms for a few seconds.
     As all good veterinary doctors, we must be able to give our patients their medication.  When it comes to boluses, or pills I have yet to see the cow who will simply pick up a glass of water and take her aspirin.  This means we must use a balling gun loaded with one to three pills, which may be up to two inches long. Holding the cow by the lip you insert the gun in her mouth, push it down her throat (making sure you are directing the pill to her stomach and not her lungs...) and depress the plunger releasing the pill into a point in her throat which ensures (usually) that she will swallow them and not spit them out.
    Well I hope this lesson in cowboyese has left you a little less confused than a computer manual allowing you to become informed and enlightened as well as humorfied by the following stories.

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The Mule

Starting a new job can be an interesting experience as you are not only seeing new country and meeting new people, you also have a whole new string of horses to ride which you know nothing about. When I was younger and dumber it seemed I would always end up riding the rough string which made things even more interesting. The rough string is made up of the younger horses which don't know much and older broncs which either no one else wanted to ride or in some instances could ride if they wanted to. They would have phobias from cannibalistic rabbits to horse swallowing shadows and anything in between. Their reactions could be just as varied, one might buck straight, one might spin, another "sunfish" and turn his belly to the sky at the top of the jump while another might simply cold jaw you and run off or flip over backwards. Saying you can get hurt on these critters may be understating things a little, and they don't pay you any extra to ride them because you can't get as much done on them. In fact I' m not so sure that the ranches still running a roughstring aren't doing so for the pure entertainment value of the situation as there is hardly anything in the world more beautiful to watch than a good bronc rider on a bad bronc with no arena to confine things, and it sure is fun razzing a guy when he gets dumped on his head (even though you wouldn't get on that horse if you were drunk and they offered you a hundred bucks...) So the theory goes that if the can find someone dumb enough to try them, and good enough to get the job done, the rest of the crew will show up for work after getting paid just for the entertainment... Such was the case when I started work on the Rocking Rek out of Dry Springs New Mexico.

 As soon as Theo told me to "Ride the mule today" Speedy started shaking his head.

 Speedy was from Mexico and his usage of the English language was about as impaired as mine is of Spanish, "No bueno " he told me.

 "He buck?" I asked, to which he shook his head.

 "Whats he do? I asked.

 "Que" asked Speedy with a confused look upon his face.

 I pointed to the mule and made a sort of up and down motion with my hand and shrugged my shoulders with a questioning look upon my face hoping I was getting through to him. It worked. He shook his head then kicked out a couple of times, started acting as if he were biting at imaginary flies then started acting as if he were frantically pulling back on the reins as if trying to stop a runaway and saying "Muy loco". Now I knew my mount for the day would bite, kick, runaway with me and was generally mentally unstable.

 "Hey Theo" I called out "This mule broke?"

 "Plumb Broke, put a curb in him" Theo replied, adding "Just don't tie him".

 I roped him out and hobbled him. He only kicked at me a couple of times and tried biting me once as I saddled him. We loaded our mounts and hauled out about ten miles to move a pasture of pairs. Forewarned is somewhat prepared and I grabbed the cheek piece of his bridle and pulled his head around to the saddlehorn to mount him. Sure enough he tried running off before I got my leg swung over but he couldn't do much as I had him kissing my saddle.

 We split up to make our gather and it wasn't any time at all before I was appreciating my ride. I had never been on anything so smooth in my life, and other than abruptly avoiding all of the mule eating rocks and twigs he really didn't seem that bad. After a couple of hours I joined up with Theo and Speedy, adding my cattle to the ones they had found.

 After several hours and a couple of wire gates later, Theo sent me back to bring the truck and trailer up. At the first gate he stood there for me to get on just like the "plumb broke" mule Theo had described, but the second gate was a different story.

Once again I had him kissing the horn, but I was more or less relaxed and when I started up his back leg swung around the back of my knee flipping me upside down. On my way down I let go of the rein and he was off to the races...with my foot still in the stirrup which left me bouncing across the ground and him kicking at me with each stride...

 Needless to say I was under the impression that I had just made the final mistake of my life, but I was mistaken. After what seemed like an eternity of sliding through the brush, cactus, and making gravel out of the rocks with my bouncing head I began to realize that I wasn't that hurt, yet. Then I started wondering if there was any way I could get out of this predicament without waiting for the mule to make it the five miles to the trailer. Pondering about what to do I wondered what would happen if I rolled over onto my stomach (if nothing else, at least it would change the view...) After the third try I made it and my foot popped right out of the stirrup and I laid there watching the fading out through the brush like a bad dream. My arms and ribs were bruise from all of the kicks which had landed and the back of my vest and shirt were slightly shredded, my back kinda lacerated and my pants had a semi load of dirt pebbles and other debris but I was basically OK.

 I walked back a quarter mile to the gate to get my hat and headed for the truck. Theo and Speedy rode up about the time I reached the truck and both were laughing.

"Where's your mule?" Theo asked, "He buck you off" (Still laughing of course...)

 I pointed to a speck in the distance and said "I didn't loose the ignorant dink, there he is right there" and explained what had happened as well as described in very explicit terms as to where he should put that valuable mule for safe keeping which go another laugh out of him. Speedy rode out and roped the mule and brought him back to me so I could load him in the trailer.

 After that first day I started hobbling his front feet so close together they were touching, pulled his head around to the horn and jerked the hobbles loose once I was on him. Of course the first time I did this he took a jump to run off and I turned his head loose then pulled it around in the opposite direction and stepped off. He crashed to the ground and I dallied my reins so he couldn't get up and let him lay there a minute. After that he wouldn't flinch in his hobbles when I mounted. Of course I had the problem of loosing him if I had to tie or hobble him, but other than that I was getting along all right with him.

Then came the first day of branding. This was another one of those outfits which wrestled the calves all the way to the fire rather than rope them so I wasn't worried about roping off of him. However while gathering the trap my latigo came out of it's holder and of course the mule noticed it before I did. About every other step he would kick at it and catch my foot instead. Whenever I would try and reach down for it he would duck off and go to bucking until I finally managed to grab it with my toe and hold it up high enough that it wasn't hitting his leg. I tried to get a couple of the day workers to give me a hand but the were too afraid of the mule to get close enough to be of any help, besides, once again they were getting a laugh out of my situation. Finally Speedy showed up and handed me the latigo via a piece of dead cholla cactus.

 In order to preserve my tack and keep track of my mule threw him in the trailer for the morning's work. When we finished and had the cattle turned out I went to unload him and help hold the cattle until everything was paired up only he did not want to get out of the trailer. He stood there with butt to the door and refused to move, so I closed the door and tried grabbing a rein to pull him around. He just moved his head over so hat I couldn't reach him. I got a little hot headed and ignorant, went back, opened the door and jumped in after him. The next thing I knew he'd kicked me three times (according to the tracks on my chaps) and somehow I was in the front of the trailer but also still in back of the mule who was rapidly approaching for another run at me. Luckily the canvas top was not on the trailer and I was able to jump out before he got there. "What your whole problem is , Bob" stated Theo, "is that you are just to nice to him."

 Each time I would ride him it seemed like he had a new irritating series of stunts to pull until one day he caught me completely off guard and actually did something good!

 We were sorting dry cows out of the pairs on a remote section of the ranch and had the cattle thrown up in a corner made of a fence and a mesa. Theo was cutting out a pair when a dry cow came fogging out after them and just as I was about to turn her one of those mule eating jackrabbits jumped out and the rodeo was on. In the middle of it Theo hollered at me to bring back the pair so as soon as we were under control I loped out and the old mule acted as if he were the world champion working cow mule, anticipating the cow's every move I brought them back in at a lope. Then Theo hollered at me to get the dry which was just topping the mesa so I dropped the pair with the herd and peeled off up the mesa.

 By the time I picked my way up to the top of the mesa (there was no trail) the cow as out of sight but her tracks were headed straight down the fence so away we loped. About a mile later I spotted the old witch at the same time she spotted me and the race was on. After a quick half mile I was around her but instead of turning she just stopped. I headed towards her assuming she would turn and go the other way, wrong. Instead she just lowered her head and used it as a battering ram on the mule's chest. On the second try the old mule turned and ran for about fifty feet on his front legs with the old witch carrying his rear baggage. On the next three attempts the old boy was running for his life and kicking to keep her from getting her head underneath him again.

 Being just a wee bit frustrated and forgetting that I was riding a bona fide bronc I built a loop and went at her again. This time as he turned I pitched a backhanded loop and managed to catch the old witch. I dropped a couple of coils and went to the horn, briefly remembering what I was riding and wondering how many pieces I was going to come out of this one in.

 Nothing went as expected though and instead of bucking when the rope came tight the old mule surged forward. Rather than pulling back and fighting the rope as expected the old witch took that as her cue to continue chasing us. Now things were getting a little busy. I'd pop my dallies off and go to coiling rope as she gained on us, trying to keep the rope from getting around the mule's tail and then dropping a couple of coils and going back to the horn when the old witch would stop and involuntarily flinching as everything came tight again (was my saddle cinched tight enough???) couple of times she caught up with us and carried the old mule's rear baggage for a short spell before ducking off again and he would just keep motating right on along as if he were the best mount a guy could want.

 As we reached the edge of the mesa there was no time to catch a lower gear so we just bailed off of the top making the Man From Snowy River look like a walk through the park giving me a severe case of perma pucker. About halfway down the old witch decided to stop again but we had too much momentum going. The mule kept his feet and she lost her and bounced off of several large boulders and rolled a few times before regaining her balance enough to resume the chase. I could hardly believe it when we reached the bottom more or less in one piece.

 When I got the wreck to a stop Theo's brother Leo rode over, got off of his horse and started walking down the rope to take it off the old witch, whose sides were heaving with exhaustion.

"She'll take you" I tried to warn.

 "Naw, she's too tired. Give me some slack so I can get it off..." He never finished the sentence but the next one had some of that real colorful words in it as he grasped the obvious fact that we needed to heel her and stretch her out to take off the rope.

Once we got the rope off and had her in with the other drys they let me know I was the first person in eight years to even try roping anything off that mule without getting in a wreck.   It just goes to show that anyone can have some good luck and and that any idiot can have a brief spasm of brilliance!

Dazzalin' Dale

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I was self underemployed training horses when I was invited to  branding at the
Corkscrew Ranch.  Roy, the man leasing the ranch had bought several hundred
mares and sold all but what he thought was the top three and wanted to talk to me
about starting them under saddle and he figured we could do our palavering
sometime during the weekend.
     The trip out to the ranch was fairly eventful as a thunderstorm had passed
just minutes before I turned off of the freeway and onto the dirt.  What wasn't
mud was pretty muddy water and each time my trailer started to pass me I just
floored it and prayed.  About halfway in I met Roy and his son Dale who were
driving out to see if anyone, mainly Roy's other son Don (who was bringing the
food and alcohol) was stuck.  They handed me a beer and informed me that
there was more in the fridge and slid on down the road.
     About an hour after I made it to the house Roy and Dale made it back with
Don  in tow as his motor home couldn’t quite navigate the mud.  There was
about ten of us all together and sixteen cases of beer and a few bottles of
whiskey which needed to be consumed before it spoiled so the party
commenced immediately.
     After we feasted on grilled steaks and baked potatoes Dale wanted to play
poker so we went in the house.  Now Dale's reputation preceded as well as
receded him and I had heard about his habit of testing a person by sucker
punching them, so I took a seat at the corner of the table with my back to the
wall so I could see it coming if he tried it on me.
     Now I seldom drink or play poker but that night I was doing both rather
well.  I was having a hard time seeing my cards but I was wining.  My winning
was upsetting Dale and since I was positioned against his patented sucker
punch he was baiting me for a fight by trying to make me mad which I wasn't
falling for which was in turn making him madder.  Sometime during the poker
game his girlfriend Beth came home.
     I wasn't aware that a woman was living on the ranch so when this tall
good looking woman walked in it sort of caught my attention.
    Dale looked at my glassy glaze, followed it to Beth and said "Thats my woman,
get your eyes off her'.
     Grinning I looked at him and replied seriously "It isn't my eyes you have to
worry about".
     The room got real quiet as everyone expected him to fly across the table
at me but instead he got sort of a confused look on his face and said "Yeah, I
guess you’re right" and went back to dealing cards.
     The next morning we got kind of a late start as a bout of the flu seemed to
keep everyone in bed later than planned.  Once we got started I took the outside
circle with Dale and Don.  Don was a real pleasant guy and was talking to me
about the ranch and the mares as Dale was busy nursing his hangover with the
proverbial hair of the dog when we heard the snake.
     The rattler was in a juniper bush about three feet off of the ground.  Dale
jumped off of his horse, handed me the reins and started pitching rocks.  On his
third throw the snake fell to the ground, it's head severed with nearly surgical
     "Did you see that? I should be pitching for the A's... Blah blah etc. etc."
 Still talking he stepped on the snake's body and pulled the tail tight to cut
off the rattles which forcibly emptied the snake's bladder into his mouth.  I've
never seen anyone turn from braggart to gaggart so fast in my life.
 Between gags he was explaining to us in a very colorful way, about what
would happen to us if we told anyone about this incident and jumped onto his
horse, racing off to a nearby spring to wash out his mouth.  We never told on him
but we sure had a fun time calling him Snake Breath after that.
     The weekend finished with me hauling one of the mares into town.  She
turned out to be one of the best mares I have ever ridden even though she was a
little tough starting as she was four years old and had never been handled.  Roy
liked the job I did on her so much he made me an offer.  I was to run the ranch
for him and I could keep riding outside horses and do some outside shoeing.
Dale was a little upset at this proposition but he had to admit that he couldn't
keep up with the ranch and still run a construction crew for his dad in town at the
same time.
     One of the first tasks I had to complete was to finish gathering the bulls.
Dale had all of them gathered but four.  I managed to get three of them either
driven in or roped and loaded into the trailer which kind of had Dale irritated as
he really did not want me to succeed.  However the fourth bull was a challenge.
Whenever I saw him I was either undermounted or he disappeared before I got
to him.  One night my luck changed.
     I had just gone into town for supplies and made it back to the ranch just in
time to feed before it got dark.  As I was coming out of the pasture there was the
bull sniffing at some heifers a neighbor had put in our pens.  I left the gate open
and drove past him thinking I could just walk him into the pens from a hundred
yards off.  Well he upped and ran for a hundred yards before turning to see if I
was chasing him so I just opened the gate to a pen next to the heifers which was
also next to the open gate of the pasture I wanted him in.  The house was only a
mile away so I drove down and got a horse.
     When I got back he was within fifty yards of the pen so I started easing
him in from thirty or forty yards out.  About the time his head was in the gate, and
I thought I finally had him, he wheeled around and charged, his four foot horns
looking fairly lethal at that point.  He turned away about the time my horse turned
chicken and he headed for the hills   It was nearly dark so if I was going to catch
him it had to be quick.
     The chase was one of those rides where if you thought about it first you
wouldn't do it.  In the twilight it took me half a mile at a dead run through rough
country to catch up to the bull.  I missed the first loop as we burst from the brush
and across the road in front of an unsuspecting pickup. I took my second loop
just as the bull was headed into some cedars which were impassable for a horse
and caught him, dropping several coils of rope and burning through a couple of
more as I ducked around the stubby trees.  Things were just  little hairy when
everything stopped but nothing broke and I tied off the end of my rope to the end
tree and headed back to the house to get the trailer.  By this time it was pitch
black out.
     I got back to the house Dale wanted to know what I was up to. When I told him he
didn't believe me so we hooked up the trailer and went down to load the bull.  When
we pulled up to where I had tied him the only sign of him was the rope.  Dale took
his flashlight (With low batteries) and began following the rope to see if the bull was
still on the other end.  He followed the sixty foot rope up the hill and around a cedar
to come face to face with fifteen hundred pounds of pure irritation.  Rather than simply
jumping back out of the bull's way he tried to run back down the rope.  Luckily he
didn't make the turn at the cedar because the bull ran out of rope about one stride before
hitting Dale and two strides before Dale fell flat on his face.
     When he got up hesitated cussing me out for nearly killing him and stormed off
cussing and swearing about how he had never seen anyone as dumb as me.  (He finally apologized
to me a few days later and even admitted it was a little stupid of him to run back down the rope to get away from the bull.)
     For all of the dumb things he did, Dale is the only person I have ever
heard about getting out of jail on a rope release program.  It seems that Dale had
totaled (another ) pickup and failed each and every sobriety test the state police
gave him.  He was lucky enough that they issued him a drivers license which
allowed him to drive back and forth to work during daylight hours.  One night
some of his friends picked him up and took him to town where they proceeded to
overindulge in mood altering beverages.  Dale, overimbibing a little more rapidly
than the rest decided he needed a nap.  Since it was cold out he got the keys
from his friend, fired up the truck and went to sleep with the heater on.  The next
thing he knew a man in blue was tapping on the window and he was in jail once
more.  This time the judge decided he would spend everynight plus weekends in
jail for a couple of months.
     The only problem with this was that Dale was halfway through a series
roping and was in the running for the saddle.  Since Roy's company was known
for sometimes running seven days a week Dale convinced the judge that he had
to "work" on the weekends he was to spend in jail.  For three consecutive
Saturdays and one Sunday he would leave the jail, hurry to the ranch, load his
horse and race to the arena.  When he was done roping he would hurry back to
the ranch, unload his horse and race back to jail.
      He missed explaining to the judge why his picture was in the paper for
winning by one loop and fifty dollars....
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Singlehorse Rollover

    It all started one bright and sunny morning.  Everyone else was happy with the fact they had just made it through Friday the thirteenth without a hitch, but I was nervous. Being the sort who is usually two bucks short and a day late, Saturday the fourteenth can be a real skull knocker for me, and I mean that in the most literal sense available to one's imagination.
      The plan for the day was to haul the portable panels and a new chute down to coyote gulch pasture and set them up to pre-condition the bull and steer calves the next day, and to gather the three hundred twenty pair of cattle into the one permanent corral to hold them for the night so that we could get a good early start the next morning.
     Things started out real smooth, then Lester had a flat on his truck and didn't have a spare.  At least it happened to be sitting where we would need it the next day to work the hydraulics on the chute.  He jacked it up, took off the tire, left the truck up on the jack and we commenced to putting up the panels.
     Now none of us had set things up here before as the ranch had just been bought by the father and son team of Orville and Wilbur Spendercrash.  We were nearly finished when it dawned on us that this corral design would definitely crash when used so we decided to circumvent Orville's plan and go to plan B.  Orville and Wilbur showed up right on time just before we were finished and surprsingly enough approved of plan B and were anxious to get horseback.
     As Plan B was not quite completed, Vern the manager decided to stay back with Lester to finish up.  JR and RJ went to the west end while I had the honor of taking Orville and Wilbur to the east end .  Now Orville and Wilbur are right at home in a business office. Put either of them on a horse and neither would ever be accused of being the Hop Along Cassidy or the Lone Ranger, but they enjoy the "romance" of playing cowboy and rounding up cattle.
     I headed us off at a trot, not because the pasture as that large, but because it was getting late.  About a hundred yards out Wilbur's horse stepped in a hole and crashed to the ground cushioned only by Wilbur's leg.  Wilbur was sore but still wanted to ride so I went back and caught his horse up chiding him a little and asking him how he was enjoying the romance. We got started up again and I told him how about how my family jokes that my brother rolls cars and I roll horses.  Also, just in case he ever gets hung up, I told him to roll over on his belly so that his foot will be able to come out of the stirrup.  This is a trick I learned while being drug across the desert at a high rate of speed by a mule.  (By the time I figured it out the mule had covered a quarter mile with a quarter of his tracks on me...)
     When we were nearly to the end of the pasture I overlooked the situation and decided which way we would go with the cattle.  Orville could stay with the cattle and rather than go along the fence he was to bend the cattle north so that we could pick up some cattle that were around the hill and then bend back
towards the fence and on in.
     As I started kicking a couple of pair off of the top I noticed that RJ had come down our way and was kicking the cattle I had seen over the hill down to Orville which meant we could take the easy route long the fence.  But as I have said, Orville is a little green and as Wilbur and I came up the draw with the other
cattle he got the lead started by pushing RJ's cattle back to where they had just come from, and back they did go at a high trot with the rest of the bunch following.
     Since I had seen RJ headed back up country I knew there was no one at the point so I loped to turn them towards the pens.   There were only about a hundred and fifty pair so it didn't take much too get them lined out again.  All we had to do was go through a short valley and take the south exit to the fence.  I had to drop back and keep an eye on the drag as Orville has this real neat trick of spreading the drag out rather than lining it out.  He does this by riding up alongside the cows while hollering and waving his hand at them.  They kind of slow down and watch him go by and then start wandering off and I wanted to make sure they didn't wander off too far.  About the time I was going back upto make sure the drag had a lead to follow two old swingbags headed out back to the southeast where we had picked them up likethe king of all grizzlies was hot on their trail.
     Now I may be new to this ranch but when they bought this herd I sorta came with the deal and knew that the rest of the bunch would soon be following these to old crowbaits.  I rode across through the cattle and loped on up to turn them back, hoping that either Orville or Wilbur would take the point and turn them back towards the fence instead of letting them go back up the hill.  Alas, they were too busy enjoying the romance of watching me bring the two old witches back to pay attention to the lead which had headed up the north trail rather than down the south one.  It was no big deal however as I loped on over and headed them west over the hill towards a trail which would drop down to the pens.
     At the top of the hill I was able to relax a little as RJ had returned.  Since the drag was a little wadded up and spread out, (Thanks to Orville's talent at doing so)  I thought I'd lope on back and show him how to string them out. When I was nearly there ol' sorrely kind of dropped into a badger hole.
     Thinking "Oh well, here we go again" I dropped my left stirrup and started to bail off of the right side.  Then he hit the second hole and fell onto my right foot jamming it into and pinning it in the stirrup and in catching my balance I thought "Oh, donkey dung"as I felt my left foot go back into the stirrup.  As his back end came off of the ground I flung myself forward and things got real dark for a second as he went over the top of me.
     Now all of this was going through my mind kinda fast as this wasn't really a slow motion wreck, but I wasn't panicked yet.  My parents gave me a name where the initials spell REK and this was far from my first one and ol' sorrley is a pretty gentle old puke who usually stops on voice command....usually.  This time he started running and kicking which is also about the time I though my duck was plucked and this was my last ride.
     Rather than see my life flush before my eyes I brought my arms up around my head so as not to hurt sorrley's feet when he kicked it and tried to kick my off foot free at the top of each bounce.  Finally he kicked me high enough and I got my foot free but I couldn't seem to get rolled over onto my stomach.  I
uncovered my head to look up and see that not only was my foot still in the stirrup but that my spur was also hung in the cinch.  Now I thought about panicking a little but still tried rolling over and finally after what seemed to be about three lifetimes my spur came off, I got rolled over and my foot popped right
out of the stirrup.
     As I rolled on the ground moaning obscenities that would have embarrassed Satan himself I heard the thunder of horses approaching at a dead run.  Orville and Wilbur to the rescue, or at least the wake...
They were wanting me to lie still but I was too smart for that, I had to get up.  Chewing them out I insisted that I would live and for them to get back to the cattle and get the @#&^* cattle gathered up before it got dark!
     Orville went to help RJ and Wilbur helped me find my hat and claimed the lucky horseshoe he kept in his pocket would find my spur.  He was right.  About the time he found it Vern came riding up leading sorrely and asked how to get around some cows which were heading back up the hill.  Rather than tell him where to get around them I volunteered to go get them myself.  I managed to get them back down the hill but also regretted at volunteering as being horseback wasn't quite as comfortable as usual.
     I worked at the chute the next day and rode the morning after that before my head softened up enough to let me go to the doctor.  I found out that I hadn't broken anything and shortly after taking my first dose of painkillers came to the conclusion that Nancy was wrong, drugs are your friends...(Nancy Reagan's "Just say no to drugs" campaign)
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