Good cow horses will stand for a lot of things that would make the run-of-mill-backyard-variety equine lose their mind, jump upside down and get you hurt. The big roan gelding we called Rock had calmly avoided rattlesnakes, pheasants flying under his belly, bulls charging him and deer blowing out of the brush nearly on top of him.
He even put up with pilgrims in pink spandex pants petting him and children rolling under his feet. However, a pot-bellied pig did him in.
New to the area, the cowgirl and her cowboy had gone to help some neighbors gather cattle. As one does when one is at someone else's outfit, she got her instructions and began trailing cattle back to headquarters.
Following a little bunch of cattle that was headed to the main herd, she and Rock seemed to have things under control until out of nowhere a flock of sheep came on the run right through the middle of the cattle.
Rock pinned his ears and squatted back on his hindquarters but held his own against the white, hopping invaders without ever swapping ends and making a run for it. The worst was yet to come.
After the cattle had been re-gathered with the requisite amount of cussing, the corral sorting work was done and the waiting semi-trucks were loaded. The horses were tied to the corral fence when the crew sauntered toward the house for lunch.
About halfway through the meal, the cowboys noted all their horses were in a dead run out across the pasture. The first job was to capture them and then try to figure out what had set them off.
Next to the fence where all the broken bridle reins were hanging sat a fat, happy very ugly pot-bellied pig. Horses snorted and shied from the fence and the pig looked them over inquisitively, hoping for a little more action out of them. The crisis was over.
In this same part of the world, a rancher woke one morning to silence.
Not a good sign when he had, just the day before, weaned five pens full of calves that should be bawling their heads off for their mamas.
He raced to the corrals to find all but one pen of calves completely gone. Adios, por allá, missing! Gates torn down, fences laid over.
What he also found was a pair of pot-bellied pigs that had wandered quite a few miles to get there and create such havoc. They'd taken up residence and seemed to think they were right where they belonged.
Those hogs left a lasting impression on the cattle, the horses and the cowboy.
He was able to return the pets to their home but once they had discovered the trail to so much fun, they made the trip often. Kind of like relatives that show up uninvited, stay too long and don't know they are not welcome.
For years after the event, the cowboy's horses snorted, shied and acted like there were unseen monsters in that set of corrals. One of the pigs relocated when their owner did while one of them went MIA and is now listed with the rancher "cold-case" files.
The moral of the story goes with the saying that "good fences make good neighbors." It's a dangerous world out there. Keep your pigs at home.