I wrote about Dennis and our adventures riding the long yearlings in Remembering a Friend – She Bucked a Half Mile. That was a lot of fun to do, think about again and write down. Sometimes the best times are the some of the biggest wrecks. During that same time frame when we had the two mares that Mr. Cramer wanted to turn into a stagecoach team (I wrote about them in the Honestly She Never Bucks with Me story too) was the incident of one dark prairie night.
As these two mares got to handling better, Dennis and I made longer and longer rides on them, sometimes getting in just before dark. We covered a lot of ground and chased a few corriente steers around. Just generally whooped it up, a couple of college cowboys getting paid to do something they would have done for free! Just glad know one told Mr. Cramer that back then! It was a good time, but if you push the limit to much…sometimes it will bite you!
This particular day we had chased the steers a little too much (as wild young hon-yoks tend to do!) and had ran some through a fence. Ya, I know…not very responsible, but we were a couple hon-yoks (that’s the only excuse I have, so I am sticking to it). We finally rounded up all of the steers, could see no major injuries, and had fixed the fence. Try doing that with nothing more than a lariat and a pocket knife!
Dennis says, “since it’s so late, let’s just ride to Buck’s house (Buck was the ranch foreman) and have him trailer us back to my truck…it’s not very far as the crow flies.” Problem was that we were not crows and could not fly (well if you count getting bucked off a horse as flying, then I guess we could fly for short distances!), but optimism was in great supply!
So we headed out. Not really thinking about fences, arroyo’s or lack of gates (as young cowboys only tend to think in the moment and not very much past the end of their face). We had not gotten too far when we came to a cross fence, we figured there had to be a gate and made a scientific decision as to which direction to go to get to it. We flipped a coin, heads we go to the left…tails to the right. Off we went to the right, heck for all we knew that gate could have been just over the hill going to the left…we just didn’t bother to check (the past the end of our faces thing kicked in here, it appears). We rode for about an hour and came across a deep arroyo (down in south Texas they are called gullies and up north they call them cooley’s….how’s that for this being educational!). It was too deep and steep so we had to find a way down…again the scientific decision. We went to the right again and finally came across a little trail that led to the bottom. As we got to the bottom we discovered it was a little creek, and followed it for a while. We finally got to a point we could no longer go forward as it got narrower and after much scraping of hides, ours and the horses, we got turned around and backtracked to another trail going up the other side. When we finally got out of the arroyo, we could barely see each other. At this point I thought we were pretty much lost, but Dennis was sure it was only a couple more miles. So we headed out again, finally came to a gate. We entered that pasture and by then only way you even knew you had your hand in front of your face was the heat from your breathe. To say it was dark was an understatement, you could hear the other horse…but we couldn’t see each other.
We decided we needed to stick together, but at some point we both got on different sides of an arroyo. At first we tried to get closer together, not knowing there was an arroyo there, but the horses would have none of it. It appears they were smarter than we were, they wouldn’t just step off into hole! Once we figured out what had happened we just rode along the sides and in the quiet and dark, waiting for it to narrow back up or get shallower so we could cross. The only problem was it appeared to be getting wider; it was getting harder to hear the horse on the other side.
One of the things that happen when you are riding alone in the dark and quiet is that you tend to just be alone with your thoughts. Now my thoughts were running along the lines of how stupid we were and I was looking to lay the blame on Mr. As-Crow-Fly’s. I guess he must have had that “alone with your thoughts feeling” too, because all of the sudden out of the dark comes a small, somewhat shaky voice…saying “Cory……Cory…..are you still over there?” At first I thought about punishing him a little and letting him think he was by himself. But just the way he said it was hilarious, and hilarity is contagious. So we laughed over that for some time!
We finally came to a road and again with the scientific decision. We went to the left this time and somewhat anti-climatically arrived at Buck’s house. So while I sat outside holding the horses, Dennis goes in to ask Buck to trailer us back to the truck. He was in there for some time and come to find out he ate while he was in there and brought me a sandwich to eat on the road. Buck finally came out, and said “what are you boy’s doing riding around at 11 at night?” Of course, since the sandwich thing, I just looked at Mr. As-Crow-Fly’s and kept my ill thoughts to myself.
Needless to say the rest of the night was pretty uneventful, we loaded the horses and in 20 minutes Buck had us back at the truck. We unsaddled, put away horses and headed back to the dorms. Of course being ten feet tall and bulletproof had its benefits and we still went out that night. Heck we even had a funny tale!