Punching Cows, Horses, and Brothers
SOP Disclaimer: Don't own 'em. No infringements intended, no profit made.
Johnny Lancer rode into the ravine with a sinking feeling in his gut. The heifer was squalling for all she was worth and that could only mean one thing. She was hung up somehow, somewhere, and could in no possible way be an easy fix. Just his luck.
He and Scott had been rounding up the heifers for two days now and had gathered a very respectable herd to take to their bulls. The vaqueros were good men who knew their trade and didn't have to be prodded to keep on the job. But right now, he was all alone on this one.
Rounding the curve, he saw her. She was neck deep in a mud hole. Dumb cows! They had to be the dumbest animal God ever created. After working with the animals for several years now, he finally knew where the term "punching cows" came from. That's exactly what you wanted to do everytime you worked with the stupid animals. Of course, he had to be pretty dumb himself for chasing them all over creation.
So, here he was, all alone, with 600 pounds of stupidity stuck in a hole, riding a green broke, spooky jughead, who never should have been saddled this morning. Cipriano sure missed the mark when he pulled this gelding. Whatever hope the vaquero had seen in the young horse was not showing up now. Of all the days Johnny could have picked to give Barranca a rest, why did he have to choose this one? This situation called for close communication between man and horse. He knew that was not going to happen on this day.
He rode slowly up to the white-faced heifer, trying not to frighten her. He did. She began thrashing, trying to free herself from the sticky goo but only succeeded in sinking further. The young gelding he was riding began snorting and backing up, spooked by the flailing bovine.
Johnny stopped the horse within twenty feet of the frightened cow. She tired and stopped fighting the mud, which was definitely going to work in his favor. She wouldn't sink and the spooky gelding would settle down and maybe be of some use to him.
He threw his loop over her head and took up the slack. He dallied the rope around the large horn of the mexican saddle and began to slowly back his mount. As the weight of the heifer hit the rope, the gelding began side-stepping.
"You dumb horse!" Johnny sighed. "I wonder why they don't call it "punchin' horses" instead of "rounding them up". Easy, now. Settle down." he spoke softly to the skittish horse.
He eased the gelding back farther and the heifer began pitching and lurching forward. Then, of all things, she landed upside down wrapping the lariat around her front legs,
"You dumb cow!" Johnny repeated. Knowing he couldn't continue to pull her without causing injury, he dismounted and walked slowly toward the heifer. He hoped Cipriano had trained the gelding to keep the slack out of the rope.
So far, so good. The gelding was holding pressure and watching his rider for further commands. "Maybe I was wrong about you, fella." Johnny said out loud, running his hand down the rope as he walked closer.
Finally reaching the cow, Johnny crouched down and began untangling the rope, speaking softly to the animal as he worked.
Suddenly, all hell broke loose. The heifer began thrashing and pitching causing the spooky horse to bolt. He drug the heifer past Johnny, knocking his feet out from under him. Losing his balance, Johnny fell into the mud hole. He watched as the skittish horse, spooked even more my the bawling cow, headed out at a dead run, dragging the helpless cow. Finally, the rope snapped. The heifer, no worse for wear, scrambled to her shaky feet and the horse kept running, blazing back to the ranch like the devil himself was on his tail.
Exasperated, Johnny slapped the mud. "Damn! Dumb cow, dumb horse, damn!"
His tirade was stopped by the sound of laughter. Scott appeared from the trees just above the ravine. "Now that was entertainment, Brother." he managed to spit out between belly laughs.
Johnny slowly rose out of the mud, covered from head to toe. Pushing down his anger, he smiled deceivingly as his brother. "You been watchin' this?"
"Yeah, every bit. You sure have a way with animals!" Scott laughed.
Smiling even bigger, Johnny replied, "Yeah, I guess I do. Now give me a hand outta here."
Scott dismounted and threw his rope to Johnny. Heaving him out of the sticky mud, he was oblivious to his brother's simmering anger. "Well, Little Brother, you've got a long walk back." Scott teased. "You're too muddy to ride with me!"
Johnny gave him his best smile. "Wrong, Boston." he said as he swung hard, connecting with Scott's jaw, knocking him into the mud hole, face first.
"You've got a long walk." Johnny said as he swung up on Scott's horse, slipping as his dripping, muddy pants came in contact with the smooth leather of Scott's squeaky clean saddle.
Never looking back, Johnny ignored Scott's pleas. He would make sure one of the vaqueros gave Scott an undeserved ride back to the ranch. Fully satisfied with himself, he nudged the horse into an easy lope and reflected on his day of punchin' cows, punchin' horses, and punchin' brothers. Yeah, he was finally getting the hang of this ranch life.