Sunday, May 06, 2018

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy (revisited)

A tale of Slats, Dan and Whitey

By Julie Carter

Slats is a team roping horse worthy of a story. His owner Dan follows narrowly in second place for his story worthiness. And then there is Whitey the dog.

These are true stories with the names unchanged to protect no one.

From a regular person's perspective, Dan looks to be close to 7 feet tall, weighing in at about 80 pounds.

Both numbers are obvious exaggerations but you now have the mental image of this very tall, very narrow cowboy.

Perhaps the only 17-hands-high heeling horse south of the Mason-Dixon line, Slats is a trim 900 pounds.

His height is not a handicap only because Dan's arms are long enough to compensate.

Slats seems only slightly self-conscious of his height as he stands head and shoulders above the other heeling horses when tied to the fence during the beer drinking breaks at the arena.

This fine animal's resume begins with his career as a race hose in El Paso where he received all the appropriate training and made two starts.

According to Dan, Slats was so polite by nature that when he saw all those other horses in such a hurry, he just let them go on by. He came in dead last both times.

Management moved him to a new track-related position as a pony horse where Slats remained for a number of years.

Sadly he became a victim of company downsizing, was traded and was soon on unemployment. In this case that also meant a starvation diet.

Dan was day working for the man that owned Slats, saw his plight and asked if he could have him. The deal made was that if Dan would pay the vet bill to get Slats back up to using shape, he could have him. To date Dan has $382.50 in Slats plus another couple million dollars in wormer and feed.

Slats even has a pet. When Slats first came to live with Dan, he was thin and weak and according to Dan, thinking about dying. Dan thought a buddy might make Slats more interested in continuing life and making a career change. Whitey the dog became Slats' full time partner.

When Whitey first arrived to live with Slats he spent a good portion of his time chasing him. Now that Slats is back in good form, he chases Whitey.

Dan's description of Whitey includes "he is about so-high, has a medium length basic black coat, trimmed in black."

On occasion Dan offers Slats to his best friend and fellow team roper. Tim is of average build, 6 foot tall or so, and when Dan says he can use Slats to make a run he always gives the offer some consideration.

Looking at Dan and then at Slats, Tim says, "It'll take me a month to reach your stirrups." Dan volunteers to take up the stirrups about four holes.

Tim backs in the heeling box. Slats does his usual rocket launch break which Tim is able to ride him through.

Quickly in position behind the steer, he casts his loop. The minute it leaves his hand, Slats buries his front feet in the ground and the back pockets of Tim's Wranglers are precariously day-lighted from the saddle.

Back at the roping boxes, Dan laughs and says to those standing there, "I love making him ride old Slats. He falls for it every time."

That kind of friend is hard to find.

© Julie Carter 2006

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