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P.O. Box 62
Ellsworth, KS 67439
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5/19/2007

Saddle Work

Livin in the saddle is the best part of what I do. Unfortunately putting out the Kansas Cowboy and running Drovers Mercantile keeps me inside and out of the saddle a lot more than I would like. Now, I m not complainin cuz I dearly love researching and writin the unbelievable history that is found on the prairies. Meetin and talking with folks at Drovers is an absolute joy that I actually underestimated when we first opened up 12 years ago.  
 
But hoss work is really fun! This morning Michael and The Cowboy gathered up a couple of sets of cow/calf pairs from pastures to be worked and hauled to summer pasture. I would say it was routine. Nothing out of the ordinary occurred. It was, however, far from boring. The whole thing was just very enjoyable.  
 
We had just finished loading the last set of pairs in the trailer. Our job was almost done. I took my trusty steed around the pickup and began to loosen up the cincha strap in preparation to unsaddle when I heard. Hey Dad! I turned to see a heifer that we had purposely left shut up straddling a fence line feed bunk with her front feet on the outward side. In no time she was out of the pen. I had planned on selling her in a couple of days and figured I would keep her up in the pen with some feed and water so that I wouldn t have to get her up the morning of the sale.  
 
Michael jumped back on his hoss, Tigger, while I just ran for and opening between a building and the pickup so that she wouldn t get away in that direction. With the pickup and trailer backed to the loading pen we had a ready made wing that kept her from just running away. The building was another barrier with openings on both sides that we had to plug up hoping to drive her back through a gateway into the pen. 
 
Do you think she would go through that open gate? Of course not! While she was on the far end I ran back to Moon and saddled up thinking that would give me a little better advantage than being on foot. Michael and Tigger pushed her our way but instead of turning for the gate she surprised us by running for the tiny gap between the pickup and the stock trailer! 5th wheel or gooseneck type trailers have a small gap that is just big enough for an animal to go through and she found it! I m pretty sure some pretty choice words slipped out! Moon and I spun around t he pickup and headed her off turning her back in the direction of the pickup but she insisted on staying on the wrong side even with Michael and Tigger jumping in to help.  
 
An electric fence along a nearby piece of grass kept her from just taking completely off and led to a gate that could be opened to one of the bigger collection pens leading back to where she had been originally enclosed. I opened that gate and rode to the east end of that pen to shut a gate leading to the pasture. In the meantime Michael drove her toward the open gate but instead of going to the gate she went to the electric fence about 20 feet away and ran through the fence! Yeah, a few more choice words filled the air.  
 
I was off of Moon and untying the fence from a corner post. My heavy leather gloves allowed me to unravel a splice without being shocked by the electric pulse. Until I got that last twist out of the wire and with each end in each hand a charge went through my entire body! Owww! I screamed! But the fence was down and I was soon in the saddle. Michael and Tigger had cut her off they had her turned back in the right direction but we had to be careful not to let her near the pasture fence or she might jump it and we would be finding our way to a new gate one more time.  
 
This is the kind of work Moon really loves. That little heifer did a few twists and turns but Moon was always right there and soon she was going exactly where we wanted. She was in the pen and with a burst of speed I swung around her and got to the pasture gate before her just in case she tried to jump it. Then we turned her and headed her for the smaller pens on a dead run. She tried to turn and run past Michael but Tigger cut her off. She spun around so fast that she lost her footing and slid for a ways on her side. It was getting exciting! About now she jumped up and tried to make a dive past Moon but he was on her tighter than a drum. Every little move was countered and I was having a great time jest staying in the saddle! She finally gave up and headed for the gate as Michael on Tigger and me on Moon charged after her flat out as fast as we could sliding to a stop as we pushed her through the open gate. We looked at each other with the biggest of smiles. The whole thing had originally been frustrating but Man, that was fun! This is jest the kind of stuff we live for. If ya stop by Drovers and The Cowboy jest happens to be gone it could be that I m out fixin fence or doing some trivial pursuit on the range but I can only hope I ll be out somewhar with my legs stretched over a saddle! 
 
So Long, 
The Cowboy 

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