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Cheers to You, Silver Bullet

On account of such numbers seem to matter to the people on the County Island, I thought I might as well tell everybody today’s Coors Light’s bonafide 21st birthday. Why it matters, us horses don’t know, or care, to tell the truth. And I’m 27, so that makes me older and also better.

But still. Happy 21st, buddy. I tease ya without mercy — and make no mistake, you’ve earned it — but there’s only one Coors Light, and I suppose I ain’t half ashamed to call ya my friend.

Cheers to you, Coors Light.

Cheers to you, Coors Light.

 
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Posted by on April 23, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Happiness ‘n Yellow

I ain’t made up what’s called an illustration for a long while now, about how County Island people say a picture’s worth a thousand words. So, instead of tellin a tale for y’all to read, I made this picture of happiness.

Here’s me, and a sweet, blossomy, tasty treat of a palo verde tree.

I call it:

“Happiness ‘n Yellow,

by Whiskey”

It’s likely to be followed by “Itchiness ‘n Yellow” on account of when I eat too many blossoms all at once, I break out in hives like I been stung by a bad bee. But it’s worth it for the very best time of year upon the County Island.

Oh hell, pardon my french… Looks like I done went and made a lot of words when all I meant to make was this picture…

 
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Posted by on April 9, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Cow Catcher

Back at the ranch, we’d go out and move a couple hundred head of cattle from sunup to sundown, from one end of the ranch to the other, likely traversin twenty people-miles to get ‘em all sorted and moved where they needed to be. Movin cattle from one part of the ranch to the other was slow, steady and purposeful, much like myself. Recently, I got loaded into the rollin white horse-box, and I went out and I worked cattle again.

Only this time, we moved ten head. One mile. For three hours.

We moved ten cows that was already properly tagged, branded, castrated, penned AND gentled, back and forth, and then back again, from one end of one tiny pen to the other, for a County Island cow game that’s called team sortin. The most important part of team sortin as far as I can tell is what the people call shootin the breeze, and also trash talkin. The second most important part of it’s called braggin rights. The third most important part may be beer, or maybe it’s the second most important part. I ain’t even sure the cows is a necessary part of it, to tell the truth. Us horses are, ‘cause our saddles give folks a place to sit rather than standin on their own legs while we take a break from pointless cow punchin. Without us, since there IS cattle involved after all, they’d never know which cow to chase or when.

I know how far we worked the cattle for the team sortin game and for how long on account of a horse knows such things from the moment he’d foaled, and also on account of the lady inside the tiny telephone that lives in the bucket gal’s back pocket said so, too. I ain’t never met her, but I’m told she’s got an App. I still don’t know why a person needs to consult with a tiny lady or her tiny Appaloosa inside a tiny telephone to tell ‘em how far and how long they rode a horse, but I guess horses ain’t meant to know some things. How the App got so tiny and inside the telephone to start with, I couldn’t begin to guess. I’ve heard stranger stuff since I came to the County Island. People need their tiny telephones with their tinier Apps to tell ‘em things, and that’s all there is to it. Plus Apps got their App ways.

This is the part where I’m supposed to tell the story. But the whole, entire tale of it is movin cow tails, as it usually is. People like to account for things a lot, so they account for the cows by puttin enormous numbers on ‘em in order to tell ‘em apart, rather than tellin ‘em apart the more sensible way, which is to say, big brindle cow, little brindle cow, black cow, spotted cow, other spotted cow, red cow, other-other spotted cow, and so forth. And then they can hardly see the enormous numbers with their tiny li’l people-eyes, anyhow. And no matter how many times we sort the same damned cows in the same damned number order, the people still often get the numbers wrong. The cattle know which numbers they’re wearin, and they can count as well as horses can. But cows don’t care. They ain’t gonna help, when they know as well as us horses do that there ain’t no point to cow games.

The trick to team sortin is first, not to fear the cattle. A lotta County Island horses ain’t never worked a cow a day in their lives before they get brought to cow games day. Some spook real bad. Some got owners who’re so afraid they might spook real bad that they tie ‘em to the fence to let ‘em think about cows all day before they’ll even place a foot in the stirrup. Some horses appear to stand quietly, but you can tell they’re quakin in their horseshoes at the sight and smell of them ten bad bovines, such as the real sweet western mare who was raised up wrongly to be an english-ridin hunter horse. Despite her rough start, she came around right quick back to her roots when she realized a cow’s got to move the second a horse tells it to move. I likely’ve said it before, but the way the order of the world goes is cows got to take orders from horses, and horses got to take orders from people. I don’t make the rules.

We came in second place, by the rules. We got the most cows, me and the real good Quarter Horse geldin I got partnered up with. Another team got the most cows, too, but also in the least time, and so they got to claim the braggin rights and do the trash talkin. Ya got to go fast to play cow games by the people-rules. On the ranch, speed generally sets cattle into a commotion, which leads to stampedin, which leads to more work and a much longer day, which makes the people, horses, ranch dogs and cattle all grumpier, which ain’t never gonna win nobody nothin.

But as the great cowboy Mr. Ricky Bobby once said, if ya ain’t first, you’re last. I’m entirely comfortable comin in last at cow catchin games. I still got it. I just ain’t got to go fast to prove it to nobody.

 
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Posted by on March 18, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

An Eye for an Eye

Kindly look away. This ain't pretty.

Kindly look away. This ain’t gonna be pretty.

Our vet lady’s mare has drunk the cool-aid. That’s about the only explanation I can muster that explains why an otherwise good and level-headed western-broke mare would not only seem to like the sweet-talkin but evil vet lady, but also maybe even like her even more than I like my own bucket gal. I know — crazy talk, from me. My thoughts was directed thusly one time when we went for a trail ride all around the County Island with the two of ‘em. It was after the time when the vet lady brought me a bucket of feed out of the blue, which aroused both my suspicions and also my appetite. So, I was already feelin a bit bamboozled by the vet lady even before I realized she was our ridin partner for the day.

Now, her good, broke mare’s only got one good eye. I noticed it before when she’s been rode by, but it ain’t good ranch manners to ask a one-eyed horse what happened to its other eye no more than it’s been good manners to ask a three-legged coyote if it’s seen any traps lately. A horse can hurt an eye on all manners of sticks stuck out of brush, or even on cactus thorns on accident. Or maybe she got in a bar fight with another horse. It happens. She’s still got the eye, of course, but the inside of it looks like a cloud in the sky and therefore she don’t see nothin out of it but maybe clouds. When she looks at ya, she gives more of a sideways glance, and bats her one good eye at ya purty enough to melt even a crusty old ranch geldin’s heart.

We was bein rode in and out of the washes, going cross-country instead of followin a marked trail, on account of the weather was cool enough for most of the snakes to still be sleepin in their snake-holes. And since the vet lady didn’t have her rumbly-truck which contains all the pokey things she uses to poke and prod at a horse in all his most personal places, and also since it didn’t sound like the vet lady nor the bucket gal was talkin about anythin to do with pokin or proddin at me directly, I stopped botherin to listen to their conversation. And so did the purty one-eyed mare. We set to makin our own small amount of trail talk.

The purty mare was walkin with her neck stretched out and relaxed, her lip droopin in a comfortable sleep-walkin manner, so I indicated with my ears to ask how she could ever relax like that around the sweet-talkin but evil vet lady, given how she’s a sweet-talkin but evil vet lady and all. And the mare raised her good eyebrow and gave me a look to say she didn’t know what I meant. She said, “My mom fixes horses and makes them feel better.”

I snorted hard through my nostrils, pretendin to clear out the trail dust, and indicated that if by better she meant worse, then I’d agree.

But no, she insisted. In fact, one time, she said, she knew another horse who thought sticking a stick straight through his eye would be a good idea, and her mom made the horse feel good as new — by taking out his bad eye completely and “fixing” him.

I stopped cold in my tracks, which earned me a kick from the bucket gal in the saddle. But the mare might as well have kicked me straight in the head, I was thusly stunned.

I asked her, what if she took your own eye out? And she said she supposed her “mom” would know what’s best and if her eye needed to come out, then she would be fixed — and that would be alright.

She went on to describe the things the vet lady, her “mom,” had done to her and her own herdmates over the years, in the name of fixin ‘em. Crackin their own bones, which she called ky-ro-practic. Pullin bad teeth straight out of their heads, which she called dentis-tree. Stickin them all straight full of needles as tiny and sharp as cactus spines, which she called learnin how to do acu-puncture — or, how to puncture a horse with holes on purpose.

Such stuff is condoned here on the County Island!? This was terrible trail talk. In fact, this was a terrible trail ride, which I never woulda dreamed was possible when all a horse is doin in a lot of walkin and nothin for no more than a couple of hours.

I knew right then that mare’d drank the cool-aid. No, I don’t know exactly what that means, but the people say it all the time so it can’t be right. The sweet-talkin but evil vet lady likely fills her horses’ water tubs full up with cool-aid every day and it’s thusly addled this good mare’s thoughts. There ain’t no other possible explanation for why any horse, much less one that’s owned directly by a vet lady, would think for one minute a vet was anythin less than evil, especially when it had seen firsthand such abominable examples with her own one good eye. But, the other explanation was maybe she’d decided it was easier to turn a blind eye toward it all, so to speak. I can understand that real well myself. I do it all the time here on the County Island, and I ain’t got an actual blind eye to blame it on.

 
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Posted by on March 3, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Open Season

I thought we was done with ‘em for good, but a huntin pack always circles back to where there’s easy prey. And to packs of li’ girls, it seems me, Original Coors and Coors Light is easy prey. We ain’t exactly under constant attack from li’l people-girls, but we got a whole lot more of ‘em to contend with than we ever had before in these here parts. We’ve had three visits thus far, which might be three too many. Seems it’s open season on County Island horses.

The third visit brought back those girls who seemingly twitched and bewitched me with their purty, shiny words. We was eatin dinner, which means Coors and Coors Light was locked up in stall-jail and I was still at liberty so that I might savor my very small portion of alfalfa that I get with my dinner hay in peace. Not that they’d ever dare push me off my own feed. Original Coors especially knows what can happen when when ya incite a bonafide Whiskey rebellion. But they stand nearby and squabble non-stop while I’m attemptin to enjoy my alfalfa in a peaceable way. So we was shovelin hay into our mouths, and the bucket gal was shovelin up the remains of our hay, so to speak, when I sensed girls nearby and suddenly one of ‘em spoke up.

“Hello again!” said the bravest of the two people-girls, holdin the fidgety dog’s lead rope. How’d I miss hearin ‘em approach? How’d me, Coors and Coors Light miss hearin ‘em approach? Are we becomin dead-broke to ‘em? “We just forgot your horses’ names!”

And, I had to wonder, how come they needed to remember ‘em?

“Yeah,” said the more skittish one. “We forgot, so we made names up for them.”

The brave one added, and pointed to each of us with a li’l flourish, “So we called them Autumn!” — Original Coors, who I suppose is sorta autumn leaf colored, pricked his ears like he liked that — “Win-ter!” — said in a dreamy fashion I reckon only a li’l people-girl can muster, and Winter, I mean damned snowy white Coors Light, pricked his damned ears — “and Sunny!”

Sunny laid his own ears flat. I mean my own ears flat. Sunny, my a—

“Do they have a lot of adventures?” asked the first one. And the bucket gal laughed and said, why yes, we do. Little does she know!

She don’t know, does she? I might have some explainin to do otherwise.

Coors gave his brother Coors Light a look out of the corner of his eye through the stall-jail bars where they stood next to one another, and Coors Light returned the same look out of the corner of his own eye through the stall-jail bars to Coors, suggestin that maybe there was Ayrab horse adventures or plans for ‘em I’d best not know about.

I shouldn’t want to know about any Ayrab horse adventures, should I? Bein a good ranch horse means mindin your own business.

I was also halfway expectin the girls to ask to saddle up for a ride on one of us, and I expect our bucket gal was, too. But no such suggestion nor invitation was forthcomin. Which is the way I like it. Mostly. Pony rides for buckaroos is one thing. These potentially pony clubbin bouncy shiny huntin critters is another species entirely. It’s best for a horse to avoid new things.

After the see ya laters was said and done, our bucket gal turned and gave me a real funny look. I was ponderin how I hoped that meant it was a lot more “see ya” as in “and don’t come back,” and a lot less “later.”

“Aww, Sunny, look sunnier! They love you!” she laughed at me, and she walked over to me, and reached out as if to scratch that real good scratchy spot right behind my left ear, but instead she took both her people-hands and stood both my ears up to appraise me like a horse auctioneer. And laughed at me again while holdin my ears upright. I turned and stuck my entire head and neck down into my hay feeder so I could go back to eatin undisturbed. But I could still hear her.

“Hi, Au-tumn! Hi, Win-ter!” she was sing-songin as if she herself was a li’l people-girl still. And smilin. It’s a good thing for people to be happy around us horses, so if girls callin us ridiculous names such as Sunny, Autumn and Winter was makin her happy, a horse ought to roll with it. But my ears was still mostly back while I ate my hay.

I didn’t dare look over to Autumn or Winter to see if they’d wiped the smirks off their own horse-faces yet, lest this turn into Ayrab horse ass-kickin season. Pardon my french. A good ranch horse minds his business, and also knows which battles is his to pick and which ain’t. That’s the truth in any season.

I know how this here pig feels.

I know how this here fella feels.

 
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Posted by on February 18, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Twitched and Bewitched

The second time me and my horse-buddies, Original Coors and Coors Light, heard a singin huntin pack of li’l people-girls comin down the road straight for us, it was a different pack, which indicates we got more than one pack of ‘em that roams the County Island. Which also means we really got a problem here, potentially. For those who got tiny li’l people-attention spans or who maybe plain don’t know, I told about the first time the pack descended upon us thusly, here.

I ain’t sure whether it’s the weather that brings out the packs of li’l people-girls, such as when we get a lot of sun shinin in the middle of the cold, good time like right now, which’d make ‘em more of a seasonal critter like the honky noisy snowbirds flyin over our heads every mornin on their way to wherever honky noisy snowbirds fly. Or, will they stick around for the hot time, too? This is precisely what bein a mostly retired County Island pet pleasure horse with a lots of time on his hooves has done to me. I think these thoughts a horse has no business thinkin. No wonder so many pleasure horses is spooky.

These two girls was older, likely the age at which people go for more than their first 90 days of trainin? And they had ahold of a silly waggy County Island pet dog on a lead, walkin it for fun on account of dogs don’t work on the County Island, neither.

I was in my second best spot under the tree that grows by the fence and gives the very best cool shade in the middle of the day. The tree and fence is also next to the road. My eyes was shut tight. My lower lip had a good droop to it. I was almost out cold, like I like to be, under a tree.

I heard the happy, squeaky, bouncy voices comin, along with some over-excited pantin and whinin that meant the dog was likely one of them that ain’t never seen a horse before and thinks maybe we’re a big dog that wants to play with ‘em. Like we need more of those.

“Oooooh, he’s so pretty!” one of ‘em exclaimed in a giggle-voice that sounded damned close to my sensitive horse-ears. “Oh, come here, horsey. You’re so pretty!” I cracked an eye open. A second girl-voice cooed some. The dog whined a lot.

It was practically under my own nose. How’d I let it, and by it I mean her, get so close to me? And it was reaching an arm as far as it could through the fence rails to try and touch my nose! I don’t care for havin my nose stroked and petted and squeezed and kissed upon by people.

But I let her pet me. I blame it on my state of near sleep. And also she demonstrated good taste in horseflesh sayin I was pretty. I took one step backwards when the second one leaned in to pet me, though, so she couldn’t quite reach. A good horse sets good boundaries sometimes. It’s important to train the li’l people proper.

Then here came Coors and Coors Light toward the fence. Yeah, they think they’re pretty, too. More li’l hands through the fence, stroking Ayrab horse noses like they was the most velvety soft noses any horse ever had. Mine’s likely softer, with better whiskers and also a fine palomino mustache. But they liked the Coorses’ noses, and the Coorses liked the attention, squabbling over whose nose could stick toward the girls the farthest, and whose neck could arch prettier, whose ears could prick up more perky-like, and who could beg for treats better. There was no treats, however, which might have swayed me to let the second li’l one pet me. Maybe.

“They’re so pretty! I wonder what their names are? We should make up names for them! This one’s the softest! No, this one’s the softest! I wish the yellow one would come over!” they rattled off in one long excited chain of singy-songy words. The dog was getting antsy and started pullin ‘em back down the road. And then they was gone.

They wasn’t gone gone, though. Where they went was just around the first bend past our corral, straight up to the main people-barn door. I had a feelin this might be good, so I ambled over to my other favorite shady afternoon spot under the other tree closest to the people-barn where the bucket gal and her carrot guy are stalled.

The two girls and the dog stood before the door. One girl pushed the round thing by the door and waited. It makes a sound inside the people-barn that our horse ears can pick up. Then she pushed the thing again. And again. And the dog fidgeted so the other girl told him sit.

I heard the carrot guy say a surprised howdy to ‘em, then real fast he turned ‘em over to the bucket gal. Oh, this ought to be good. I stepped closer to the fence.

“Hi,” said the one who’d made first contact with me. “We just wanted to tell you we think your horses are very pretty and we love them.”

“Thank you! We think they’re very pretty and we love them, too,” said the bucket gal. “Your dog is very pretty, too.”

“Thank you, “ said the first one kinda shy-like like a bold filly that suddenly realizes she’s ventured a bit too far from her dam’s side. She turned with the dog to go and motioned for the second girl to git along, too.

The second li’l people-girl turned back to ask, “What are their names? Especially the yellow one. We love him.”

And the bucket gal told ‘em our names. “Those are beautiful names!” exclaimed the second li’l girl. And my old, crusty, workmanlike, solid, grounded ranch horse heart made like it might melt on me right there, under a tree. Me and Coors and Coors Light got beautiful names. I got a beautiful name. I’m a beautiful horse. Especially me.

After the door shut, I think I heard the bucket gal and her carrot guy snickerin but I was too busy listenin to my own thoughts to listen further to them. And then my butt got a real itch to it, so I backed it up to the tree and set to scratchin in a serious manner like maybe I could also scratch all them damned foolish thoughts out of my head.

I’m a real good horse with the small buckaroos. I like it when I get to give ‘em pony rides ‘n all. I take real good care of ‘em in the saddle and on the ground. But in a business-like manner befittin a good ranch horse. Not like Coors and Coors Light. But I let these li’l girls pet me. I liked bein their favorite, like bein called a favorite even matters when what does matter is doin your job and keepin your nose down and not thinkin ridiculous thoughts. Can li’l people-girls hold a strong and mighty power over a horse, like he suddenly been twitched? ‘Cause I think they twitched me and bewitched me.

I got pet by a girl, and I liked it.

I got pet by a girl, and I liked it. Don’t tell nobody.

 
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Posted by on February 9, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Pack It In

No good generally comes when predatory critters pack up, such as coyotes, or big cats, or javelina pigs. One time we also had a pack of mule-deer, which is real unusual for these parts, but they’re prey like us, so mostly we pondered what they was runnin from as they passed through, but they didn’t stop to tell us, and so then we forgot all about it. But horses know how bad a pack is, mule-deer aside, deep down to the bottoms of our hooves, which is always set to flee if we got to, even those hooves of such horses as me which was raised up proper and trained up with ranch manners not to spook or bolt. As firm as my hooves are set upon the ground, they can kick up and go quicker than a jackrabbit if they got to. Packs make us nervous, deep down, no exceptions. It’s a horse thing.

So whenever I hear ‘em break into one of their huntin songs — y’all know the ones … the coyotes got their chorus, the big cats got their deep growly-purrs, the pigs got their good for nothin grunts — it send my ears straight forward to listen, “in case,” to use my ironical horse-ears to describe it. Especially when the singin huntin pack is li’l people-girls.

We got a bit of a girl problem here on the County Island. It’s a new problem, and I ain’t entirely sure what to make of it. Original Coors and Coors Light say an infestation of girls can be good for a horse. They claim they’ve known entire packs of ‘em called pony clubbers back when they lived at the California ranches, which sounds entirely too violent-like in potential for me to trust. I would not stand for nobody takin a club to me, no matter how tiny and perky, pony-lovin and well-intentioned they might be. A good horse has a strong sense of justice. Coors and Coors Light claim the li’l pony-clubbin hooligans like to spend all their time brushin on a horse, and pettin ‘em and feedin ‘em carrots and cookies, and braidin up their manes and tails, and talkin to ‘em, and ridin ‘em in big, fun competitions called rallies, and learnin all about how to be the best clubbers of ponies they can be. Like that last part’s good.

We’ve made three recent sightins of girl packs. The first such sightin can be summed up thusly. The others require deeper thought.

We was finishin up our mornin hay on a peaceful, clear sky kinda day, when we heard ‘em comin, from far, far off. It was a shriekin, piercin, yet happy chorus of sounds, really, sorta giggly and excited, all talkin and babblin and shriekin all at once, comin down the road toward our own corral. Then we saw ‘em. One lead mare-person in the front walkin with purpose, and skippin and jumpin and a-twirlin behind her was five tiny palomino-haired girls.

Their manes gleamed bright yellow in the sun. Palomino pony tail hair bobbin. Big bows and small bows, mostly pink as a newborn’s calf’s tongue, braided and wrapped into their pony tails. They was as sassy and silly as baby goats get. And nearly as terrifyin, somehow. I don’t hate goats like some horses, but I try not to think about ‘em.

Original Coors pricked his ears and took real mincey steps toward the fence. He generally likes people-girls. But this was a bonafide whole herd of ‘em, and the alpha mare seemed flustered like she didn’t have a real good handle on holdin the pack off of us. Coors froze in place, neck up, ears pricked. He let out one cautious snort that told us, “Whoa! Dudes. That is a LOT of little girls.”

Coors Light took one look at Coors, then another at the skippin girls who was presently skippin up to our fence, and bouncin up and down beside it, and hangin off the rails this way and that way, and then his neck and ears went up. Well, I had no choice but to freeze, myself, mid-bite, with my own ears and neck up. “Neeeeee!” they began to yell to us. “Hi horsies, hi horsies, neeee! Neeee! Neeee!”

What the hell — pardon my french — is neeeee meant to mean? I ain’t never heard a horse say neeee. Neigh, yeah, all the time. What the hell kinda critter says neeee, and what kinda critter did those girls think we was? When none of us took their neeee bait, nor so much as twiched an eye, their tiny li’l shiny, ribbony people attention spans fluttered away the same as happens with small fillies, and they took off again after their alpha mare who told ‘em to pack it up and move it out, leavin us stuck in our tracks with wide eyes and wide nostrils, watchin the l’l girl parade of bouncin, babblin palomino-maned girls disappear into the County Island’s far distance with a whole lot of, “Bye, horsies! Bye, horsies! Neeee! Neeee! Neeee! Neeee!”

And they wasn’t packin pony clubs.

 
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Posted by on January 30, 2015 in Uncategorized

 
 
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