Sunday, January 31, 2016

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Check your cinch

by Julie Carter

Working on a big cow-calf operation, a cowboy’s days are routine to his job title. With 4,000 head of momma cows and their babies by their side, a typical day was long and mostly seen from the back of horse. It also required the steady use of a rope.

The day would include doctoring pink eyes, scours, foot rot and any other bovine malady that showed up. During calving, it was usual to rope 50 calves a day to tag or stuff a scours pill down their throat.
As the story went for this cowboy Frank, not far away from his place of employment was a feedlot with backgrounding pasture and plenty of corn stalks.

Lloyd had worked so long at Deer Creek Feedlot not many even knew his last name. He was just Lloyd. He talked real slow, and for the most part, seemed in all ways, "slow." But he ran the feedlot and did his job well.

The cow boss of the outfit Frank worked for sent him and another puncher to go help Lloyd doctor shipping fever in a load of yearlings. They loaded their horses and headed to Deer Creek, arriving just as Lloyd was catching his big grey horse that he called Frog. 

Frank and his partner unloaded their horses and walked over to where Lloyd was saddling Frog. Frank couldn't help but notice that Lloyd's rig was an old center-fire bear trap that had no breast collar.  On the horn, there was an old rope tied off that had been broken and then tied into a square knot. More noticeable was that the cinch holding the saddle on had maybe a dozen strands still intact and the rest were broken in two and hanging frayed.

Frank always carried a rope bag in the trailer with a couple of extra ropes, leather punch, leather, awl and an extra cinch just in case tack repairs were needed at any time or place during a day of cowboying.

He told Lloyd that he had a better cinch if he wanted it and was sure welcome to it. Lloyd replied in his signature slow speech, "Nope, I reckon this one will do." 

Frank nodded his acceptance of Lloyd's decision and the trio rode to the pasture to get started on the doctoring.

The very first steer they saw needed medical attention. He was a big, soggy Simmental. Lloyd put the spurs to Frog and built to the steer. His loop caught him deep, far down on the brisket and included a front leg.

Lloyd jerked his slack and old Frog put on the brakes hard, laying some classic 11s on the ground. When things came tight between the steer and the horse, the cinch on Lloyd's saddle snapped. There went Lloyd, saddle and all, right over Frog's head. 

Since Lloyd had the steer’s head and a front leg in his loop, that steer might as well have been a Siberian husky in the Iditarod and Lloyd's saddle was the sled. Lloyd was the musher, except he was sitting down instead of standing and he was holding on to the swells of the saddle with both hands with his legs stuck out in front.

The steer was running full out and not showing any signs of slowing down. Frank and his partner were laughing so hard, they both missed the steer with their first loop. Frank managed to catch him on second try and when he got the steer halted, he took Lloyd's rope off of him. 

They had to pull Lloyd's spurs and stirrups down from around his knees to free him from his saddle. 

Old Frog was standing calmly right where the cinch broke, munching on some grass.

Undaunted by the event, Lloyd said with his very slow drawl, "Frank, you reckon I can borrow that cinch?" 

Frank laughed and said, "After that spectacular wreck, you can just keep the cinch." 

No one seems to know what became of Lloyd over the years, but Frank was certain it was a safe bet that Lloyd forever more used good cinches.

Always good advice. Check your cinch.

Julie can be reached for comment at

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