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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Flying Cats and Ranch Security

It has been a looong while since I wrote anything.  So I thought I would write something and start this thing back up.

My Dad was a feedlot cowboy, which means we always had horses.  They were not push button, can only do one job horses.  They were the tools of his trade.  The same ones that us kids rodeo’d on, where they same ones he used in the feedlot.  We always had a couple of colts, or in some cases five or six year olds, that we were starting at the house.  After about 30 rides, Dad would then take them to the feedlot and ride them for 90 days.  Ninety days of pushing cattle around, dragging roped ones and opening gates made for some pretty broke ponies.  My brother and I were usually the ones that started these “colts”, me probably more than him.  I think that had something to do with my level of brains….

At one time we had this little T-Cross mare, she was pretty sharp looking…kinda that old timey quarter horse type: square, blocky and solid.  For whatever reason we never really started riding her, we would pull her up and mess around with her for a day or two and then turn her back out.  I suppose because she was ours and any customer horses took precedence over her.  After all they were paying.  We called her Misty and Misty didn’t really get started good until she was about six.  Now Misty wasn’t a  big wild bronc by any means.  In fact, once we started riding her, you had to pedal for all you were worth to keep her moving.  I always said that she wore me out faster than walkin’.  Except for one time…

I had ridden her about 15-20 times, so I thought she was really going well.  With a little work you could lope her all over the pasture and even come in for a somewhat bouncy, jilted stop.  I’m sure I was a shadowridin’ son-of-a-gun!  I thought I was a he-wolf of a hand and the world had better get ready.

We always had four or five dogs and about the same amount of barn cats, so at some point every evening there was a commotion.  The cats seemed to be a little smarter (gulp, am I going to say this?) than the dogs because they never let themselves be caught out in the open.  Except once….

I was ridin’ ol’ Misty up close to the barn, admirin’ my shadow and how good things looked.  Why, I had the world by the tail.  There wasn’t a better hand than me, most anywhere.  As I rode along I heard the usual ruckus raised when they had gotten a cat on the run.  I was working on stopping and backing so we weren’t moving much.  I kept noticing that the ruckus with the dogs kept getting closer.  I finally looked up and all five dogs had a big orange tom cat on the run.  Now Tom had let himself get caught out in the open and was runnin’ like his tail was on fire as fast as he could for high ground.  And since there were no trees in the pasture, I noticed to my horror that Tom was headed straight for Misty and me, with the dogs in joyous pursuit about five feet behind him.  At about eight feet Tom jumped into the air and flew toward us. 

At that point, Misty noticed the ruckus.  Her head flew around toward the commotion, but even she was too slow for the blazing orange streak that was now airborne.  Tom landed with all claws out, one front and one back leg hooked into my fine Navajo saddle blanket, while the other front and back leg were desperately clawing to get a grip in what now appears to have been tender horse flesh.  Add in the fact the dogs were still in hot pursuit barking and howling like a pack of wild beasts, this was now too much for Misty to handle.

To put it mildly, we left the country.  We left the country like Satan was riding one of the hounds of hell and was swinging a lariat trying to drop a loop on us to brand and ear tag us.  She ran faster that I had ever experienced with her before, I really had no idea she was that fast.  Of course my friend was still attached to the saddle blanket, as cats sometimes get attached to things when their claws are out.  Tom was probably looking somewhat like a kite on a short string, squalling like a banshee; wanting nothing more than to be loose from the whole situation.  Also added to the mix was the wolf pack that was now very excited to be chasing not only a cat, but also a horse.  They were probably grinning like crazy thinking, “can this day get any better?!?!  What a great and wondrous day!” 

As we got toward the end of the pasture, Tom finally loosed himself from the saddle blanket.  I’m sure he had somewhat of a spill, but his welfare had ceased to be at the top of my priority list. The good news was that this distracted the wolf pack somewhat.  They immediately lit into the cat, he of course had landed on all fours (how do cats do that?) and immediately skedaddled up an electric pole.  The dogs appeared somewhat disappointed, but were glad to take up the chase again with the horse and I.  Misty and I were working on our second lap around the pasture and as we passed them, they heard the siren call of a running horse. They leaped into action to help slow us down, jumping in front of Misty right before we got the electric pole.

Technically, they did their job.  She jammed on the brakes and I did a pretty fair impression of Superman and yard darted into the midst of the wolf pack, which seemed to create a large amount of excitement in itself.  Looking at it from the dogs’ point of view, their master had dismounted to play with his faithful and brave ranch security team.  They were wagging, slobbering and licking all over, just excited that I would venture from my lofty position to mingle with them.  From my point of view, I wanted to kill all of them!

The mare trotted back to the barn and was waiting for me, only a little jittery.  She turned into a nice little mare and some people from Oklahoma bought her for their grandkids later on.  They were as happy as they could be, I’m just glad they did see the flying cat and ranch security episode.