It was springtime on our ranch and with spring time comes green grass and with green grass comes fresh horses. It just seems to go hand in hand, don’t ask me why but it does.
Every spring I seem to be doing the same old thing, like it or not. I am the gal who gets to see what the saddle horses have forgotten over the long, cold winter months.
I had three gelding in the trailer that morning and all three full of piss and vinegar clean up to their ears. They were fat and sassy and full of themselves.
I am not much of a round pen person. I use a round pen for a few things but try to keep my time there limited. Once I get a little buck out of a horse then I like to take them out to the hills and work them.
The first of the three had no squabbles, he took everything like he was an old trooper. I ran him a quick lap on the ground around the round pen and satisfied the bucking was going to be minimal I climbed aboard.
He walked a little gingerly but kept his back straight. I walked him about five laps and broke him into a trot, he humped up his back and kicked up his heels but that was all he had. After two more laps at a trot we broke into a lope and finally I opened the gate and headed him up the road.
We rode for about a half hour until I saw sweat glistening on his neck. He hadn’t done anything wrong so I turned him and headed back to the round pen.
Pulling my saddle I tied him to the trailer and unloaded the next gelding, a four year old, and walked him to the round pen.
I saddled him and stood out of his way as he leapt for the sky five or six times. I worked him another two laps and satisfied it was all out climbed aboard. He moved out eagerly. We did the same routine as I did with the first one, walk a little, trot and then lope. I soon opened the gate and took him up the road he was eager to get out and stepped out great. I had no fears that he was ready for the year at hand.
When we had finished our ride I returned to the trailer for the final horse. A big, strapping, six year, old appaloosa gelding. We got to the round pen, saddled up and he refused to move off. I knew what that meant, he had a secret that he didn’t want to show me just yet.
With a twirl of the lead rope he was off, snorting and bucking like he had never carried a saddle before in his life. I quickly grabbed the stock whip and cracked it in the air a few time to take his mind off of bucking. It worked. He straightened out and ran laps. I asked him to change directions and again he took to bucking. I cracked the whip again and he ran straight.
After about fifteen minutes of snorting and bucking at every change of direction I must confess I got a little irked. So I grabbed the bridle and slipped it on him gave the cinch a tug and stepped aboard. He gave a snort and bucked three hops. I matched his hops with hard kicks to his side, finally he got the message and trotted smooth around the pen.
Then I opened the gate and headed him towards the farthest cattle pasture at a long trot. I knew the cows in that pasture needed to be moved and with him acting like a spring idiot I was going to make him work.
About a mile later we pulled up at the pasture gate. He was huffing, puffing and still looking for home. I opened and closed the gate and got back on.
As I came full astride and before I could get my second foot in the stirrup he lowered his head and lit to bucking again. I sucked swell with my knees and used the reins as an over and under. He ran full length of the branding corral fence with his side to the boards. I caught a couple splinters on my lower leg and cussed the day of his birth.
He kept bucking and I kept the over and under going until he straightened out and hit a full run across the pasture. I dropped my legs, found my stirrups and let that son of a buck run.
The next gate came into view so I slowed him and he seemed eager to obey. As we reached the gate I stepped off and opened the gate and laid it back along the fence. This was the gate the cows were going to come through to get into the pasture what we just run across.
I sucked up the inside rein and climbed aboard my bronc expecting the worst. He never moved, he stood rock solid breathing like a freight train as I got on and quickly found my off stirrup. I sighed a deep sigh of relief as he walked off towards the back of the pasture as if he knew now what I wanted.
We rode another hour rounding up the cattle and pushing them towards the gate. They went good until we started across the last small meadow before the gate.
In this meadow was a small man made pond, the last water hole before the new pasture, and all the cows stood around it getting a drink. My gelding and I stood a short distance away waiting for them to drink.
Finally when the cows were all done we started in towards them at a slow walk. My dog circled the far side of the pond and eagerly moved the cows off the edge.
We successfully had all the cattle pushed away from water and heading towards the gate when a big black bull saw my dog. He started for him and without thinking I gave a hard kick to the gelding and started to head the bull off from my dog.
About three quarters of the way to interception of the bull and my dog I heard a very subtle sounding ting. I knew the sound instantly…… wire.
A small hunk of barbed wire flew by my face and to my udder shock landed on the gelding forelock and there it was caught.
I no sooner saw it then that gelding must have thought a giant bird had hold of him in its tallows for he instantly dropped his head and took to bucking.
In the sudden stop and rapid change of stride I about lost my seat and knew I was going to come off so I did the only thing I could, I grabbed the reins and turned his head into my knee.
He spun once and that was enough for me to hook my off knee under the swell on that side. I silently thanked God as I straightened myself back astride the still snorting and bucking gelding.
He headed for the cattle and I turned him back towards the pond. I headed him straight towards that pond not knowing quite how deep it was and
…………SPLASH we landed center of that pond.
Now that gelding must have thought I had done everything for he just froze instantly still, not a movement except his breathing and our heartbeats could be heard.
I quickly reached up and pulled the small six inch strand of wire from his forelock and petting him a bit to calm him down. The whole while wet and smelly from that stinking pond water.
After a few minutes my gelding calmed and grabbed himself a drink in the mid belly high water.
After he drank we walked out and back over to where the cattle had already found the gate by themselves. We closed the gate and headed for the trailer.
He never made another bad move nor has he ever bucked in the years since that episode.
I am not sure if he thinks I am the devil and will stick my claws in him and try to drown him again or if he just realized it wasn’t worth it, but whatever the reason he has been a great horse ever since that spring ride.