Mike Moutoux's Ranch Notes
We’re into the Fall works now; getting things ready for moving cattle which means some fence repairs here and there, shoeing horses and gathering pastures. The cattle are sorted, and we are preg-checking cows, giving vaccinations, and moving some to different pastures. The monsoon season didn’t put much rain at the ranch and the cows sure could have used some new green grass. Seems we are always keeping our fingers crossed for some rain. Gives you strange calluses wishing all the time.
On a sort of exciting/scary note, Jerry asked me to take one of the horses, Charley, out for ride to tire him a little so we could shoe him. The horse is real friendly in the corrals, but I led around for a bit to see how he behaved. Then I climbed on and had him walk for a short while and then we loped off up a sandy draw, which tires them out quicker than riding on hard ground. He wanted to turn back to the barn, but we worked that out and finally turned and headed back across a hill dotted with clumps of Bear grass. Bear grass is a kind of yucca that grows with long arcing leaves in clumps about four feet high. A hill of it is like a maze that is usually fun to ride through.
We were dodging clumps and I asked him to go right of one, but Charley veered left catching me completely off guard, Turns out, he went left and I went right without him. I don’t remember flying through the air at all. Too bad, I might have collected some images for a song or poem. I don’t even remember hitting the ground. At some point I was up again, a little dazed and bit bunged up. Charley was standing about 100 yards away and my first thought was, “I hope he didn’t step on one of my reins and break it.”
I caught him and rode him back feeling a little sorer all the time. The following morning, multiple bruises started showing up in various shades of purple. Judging by the number of them, I must have bounced two or three times hitting every rock possible. Lots of cowboy poems and stories include lines like, “luckily a rock broke my fall.” We all laugh at the line, but next time I hear that, I will smile to myself and think, “when you fall off a horse in New Mexico, there just aren’t too many soft spots to land in.”
Back at the corrals, I had to explain why my face was all skinned up and then we put those shoes on Charley. No sympathy from the boss who has seen lots of horse wrecks in his day. Treated me like just another cowboy.
The next morning, on my day off, he called to see how I was doing. Said he got to thinking that I might feel worse. Said something about us older guys taking longer to heal, or something like that. No sympathy for Mike, the cowboy, but I did get a little for Mike, the old guy. Older and wiser.