Sunday, July 06, 2014

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

You can't see the feather but I'm sure it's there
New twister initiation

By Julie Carter

Nothing smells better to a cowboy than a sweaty horse as long as it’s his favorite except maybe a pretty girl, as long as she’s his favorite.

A quality horse worthy of a cowboy’s love and respect doesn’t just happen – there are many hours and countless miles invested between a pretty little colt and a good finished horse.

Starting colts is part of the normal operation on most ranches. The young cowboys look forward to it and a new crop of colts will keep them busy.

Sometimes extra hands are hired to help and occasionally there’s a twister who likes nothing better than to ride a horse that likes to buck. The horses will get in the spirit of this and some will pitch every time a rider swings up just because both the rider and the horse like to show off.

Billy was such a horse. With this reputation, he was known as the “initiation horse,” saved for the new hires.

Initiations provide a little fun with newcomers to see if they were worth their salt. They would rope Billy out of the horse herd, and he would stand quietly while he was saddled and the cowboy got topside.

Once the new twister was aboard, he would swallow his head. If the twister made a ride, he was accepted as an equal. If he was thrown high enough for the birds to build a nest in his hat, times would be hard for him for a while.

If a new hand didn’t strike the old hands just right, they would skip the initiation “for fun” part and Billy would be on a temporary vacation.

A new twister had shown up at the ranch late one evening. He allowed that he had come to help these boys out a little.

He had recently been working at the feed store in town, but was ready to outpunch anybody around – assured that he was loaded up with cowboy skill. 

The regular cowboy crew looked him over, took in the boots with 18” high tops, under-slung heels and britches tucked in. They saw that he had a hat with a big turkey feather.  They didn’t miss the attitude either.

Before light the next morning all the hands gathered at the horse pen. The wagon boss was roping out horses to work that day. The new hand stood around, anxious to get to work on this big, prestigious outfit. 

With dead accuracy, the boss laid a houlihan loop over one horse after another for the waiting cowboys. When the crew had their mounts, the boss dropped a loop over a big, stout-looking dun. 

When the loop settled, the dun set back, blew a few rollers out of his nose and wouldn’t come out of the herd. Finally, one of the hands, who was already mounted, had to dally him up and drag him out.

The boss told the new hand: “Here’s your horse. His name is Sam Bass, he’s 7 years old and you won’t need that bridle. He’s still in a hackamore.”

Proving that attitude doesn’t always replace intelligence, the new twister took in all the expectant faces, looked over the dun blowing snot in front of him and told the foreman, “You can take Mr. Sam Bass and stick him up your …”

It rhymed. No one knew that this new twister was also a poet.

The turkey feather pluming above his hat was last seen fading off into the sunrise as the feed store cowboy headed back to town.

Julie never aspired to “twister” status, but can be reached for comment at

I hasten to add the image and caption are mine, not Julie's.

1 comment:

Tick said...

Amazing how that twister went from the feed store, feeding bovine scat no doubt, to community organizer to leader of the free world, uh, free for now anyway.