Sunday, February 22, 2009

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Where there's a will, there's always a way

Julie Carter

A bad-to-the-bone cowboy hates more than anything to be "footback," - without a horse.

Odds are the condition is caused by a cash flow problem, a regular experience for cowboys.

Dan was facing this predicament when good fortune smiled on him.

A friend of his offered him an outstanding grulla mare, for a minimal price.

His friend informed him the mare might possibly respond quicker to commands in Español.

No problemo, the cowboy was fluent in the language.

He was also told that she was a mite headstrong, but her speed, as in she could literally fly down the arena, would make up for that shortcoming.

As a further incentive to buying this mare, he was advised that she wore a solid No. 2 shoe, which the current owner had an ample supply and would throw them in as part of the deal.

Dan parted with his life savings of $600 and put himself horseback - where the real things of the world took place.

He test-drove Mouse at his friend's arena. Following the precept that if you can't have the one you love, love the one you have, Dan decided Mouse would be perfect.

He loaded his new prize and set off to Mineral Wells for the Sunday roping where his friend Jeff was waiting impatiently. He had already entered them and was dreaming up how they would spend their winnings

Dan backed Mouse in the heeling box, Jeff nodded and the steer came flying. Jeff's head loop was true and settled around the steers horns.

He turned off to the left to set the steer in perfect position for Dan's heel loop.

Mouse had been in that arena before and had zeroed her eyeballs on the stripping chute exit gate at the far end.

She did, indeed, fly down the arena, totally ignoring the steer.

By the time she got to other end , Dan had hollered "Alto!" enough times to get her to stop in the corner.

Jeff, seeing what was happening, simply turned his horse and brought the steer back by Dan and Mouse.

Dan reached out and heeled both feet on the steer. They got a fast time, all things considered.

Second round, Jeff backed in the heading box and began having a little trouble of his own.

His horse, seeing that Mouse was back in the heeling box, knew he was likely to have to pull the steer completely around the arena again. He began fighting the box.

Jeff's horse turned around in the box and stopped when was facing backward. This was precisely when the chute operator thought Jeff had nodded. He released the steer.

Fortunately, they had drawn the only steer that every other cowboy there had broken the barrier on.

The steer came slowly creeping out of the chute, Jeff's horse got turned around and they got out clean.

Jeff roped him quick and was set out to outrun Mouse as she was headed to the stripping chute gate again.

Jeff got in her way and Dan was able to catch both heels again. Another fast time.

Suffice it to say, the trophy buckles, prize money, pretty girls falling at their feet and a festive evening wound up the day.

Prudently saving part of his winnings, Dan's went straight to the tack store the next morning, on a mission to buy a Mouse-stopper.

They had a good supply of bits, EasyStops and hackamores that Dan looked over, along with their price tags.

Then he recalled that Grandpa had just what he needed at home.

Hanging on his wall, Grandpa had an antique Mexican bit that he had found on the Matador Ranch.

The shanks almost drug the ground, but since Mouse seemed to like all things Spanish, Dan knew this was the key to making a perfect partnership.

To a cowboy, there is nothing like making a good buy on an outstanding horse.

All was well with the world again.

Julie should have tried the Español approach a few times. She can be reached for comment at

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