• October 31, 2014
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  • One smart ranch horses figures out how to ride, not trot, home from the pasture.

Posted in: Horse Training, Ranch Life

LIZZIE in the trailerMany years ago when I worked on a big outfit in New Mexico, an incident occurred that has stuck in my mind for all these years.

One early morning a crew of us were sent to the top of the mesa to a rough, rocky pasture that was pretty thick with cedars to gather some bulls. We took two trailers and hauled horses up in both for the gather. That should have been our first clue that we weren’t too bright, as it took two trailers to haul the horses.

The bulls we were to gather were nasty boogers of the Mexican fighting bull persuasion. It was more of a case of sight one and yell at him and head for the pens than gather them, as they were pretty aggressive. Playing hide and seek with the bulls in those cedars was certainly exciting, but by late afternoon, we had all of them in the pens.

Loading them amounted to backing the big trailer up to a long alley and making snide remarks about their mothers from the nose. The skinniest guy on the crew drew that job, so Tommy climbed up through the little door on the side of the nose so he could wave his hat from the gate across the nose of the trailer. As soon as he did, the bulls all piled into the trailer with the intent of being the first one there to kill him. They couldn’t reach him, of course, and Tommy crawled back out of the nose on shaky knees as soon as the end gate was slammed shut and chained.

We were all pretty tickled about having the bulls loaded and were thinking that in an hour and a half or so, we’d be back at headquarters and unsaddling before dark. Then we realized that we had more horses than trailer to get back with. Maybe we didn’t honestly think we’d get the bulls all gathered or something, but the fact remained that we had six horses to go in a trailer that usually hauled four and were at least 30 rough miles from headquarters.

We pondered this a bit, then Pete, the cowboss, said he had an idea. He told all of us to tie our stirrups up and strip bridles off, so we did. He then instructed us to load our horses in order of size, smallest in the front, so we did. He told Tommy to pull the saddle off of short, stout Cal and leave him until last. Pete loaded his giant, a big dun named Ranchero, on the back. Ranchero was determined to be in the trailer, so he put the mash on everyone ahead of him and got them all pushed into the corners.

Pete took Cal from Tommy and led him up to the back of the load. He pulled the bridle off and sent Cal into the trailer. Cal never hesitated. He stuck his head under Ranchero’s belly and ducking down, started in on his knees. He wiggled and squirmed until he had one hind foot on the ground. He gave one more push and he was in except for the hind foot bracing him. Pete touched his boot on Cal’s leg and Cal snatched it in and we shut the gate.

The horses never moved in the trailer. They were side by side and packed in tight with their heads over the side of the open top and none of them acted the least concerned.

We loaded up into the two outfits and headed out of the pasture, and finally arrived at headquarters to unload. Pete put a rein around Ranchero’s neck and held him as we opened the gate. Cal put himself in reverse and slowly wiggled his way back out, stood up, shook himself and looked around smugly while Tommy put his bridle on. Not a mark on him, just dust.

I don’t think I ever met a horse who was so determined to ride in the trailer as Cal. Apparently it wasn’t the first time he’d been hauled that way, and he sure didn’t want to have to trot all the way back!


Posted in: Horse Training, Ranch Life