Single Horse Rollover Story about a rope release cowboy Dazzalin Dale
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
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
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.
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.
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!
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)
Order Cowboy Romance
Training Horse Tips Million to One Odds (times five) Links