If there’s one thing a ranch horse gets a lot of up close and personal experience with, it’s dust. Dust’s a part of everyday ranchin life, from breathin dust down deep in your lungs while you’re tailin cattle down a dusty trail all day, to standin tied in the dust while your cowboy shakes the dust from his hat and his chaps and his boots, to finally gettin unsaddled at dusk and scrubbin the sweat off yourself with a long, lingerin roll in that very same dust.
Dust ain’t no big deal to a ranch horse. Like flies ain’t no big deal, either. Flies follow after cattle more persistently than ranch hands do. But now, here on the County Island, horses wear what’s called fly masks to keep the flies off ‘em, and I think that’s one of the few good ideas they got on the County Island, along with not runnin cattle for a livin and bringin us our feed buckets every night. The games they play with cattle to fill up all their free time is another subject entirely. I like my fly mask fine. It’s kinda fun to be one of the masked men and be camouflaged so the flies can’t see me.
So I think it’s funny how much the people here will talk about dust. I mean, I never considered dust to be a topic of conversation before. But recently, we had a mighty cloud of dust as tall as the sky and as wide as the widest range, which is called the haboob, blow across the entire County Island and likely across other ranches and county islands, too. And now dust and haboobs is all people can talk about.
But I’ve seen bigger haboobs than this one. Back when I was a colt, us foals would likely wait for the haboobs to play hide-n-seek from our dams. Only they likely didn’t find it half as funny as we did when we’d get “lost” in the dust storm and stay as quiet as a rowdy gang of ranch foals could, while they was neighin frantically and runnin around tryin to find us.
A haboob brings a mighty wind with it, which brings enough dust with it to fill up a horse with dust in every possible part, from the inside of his ears and nostrils, to his eyelashes and whiskers, to every crack and crevice a horse has got.
So I thought I’d show y’all my haboobs, if you’d care to see ‘em. My horse buddy Coors Light tells me “haboobs are so last week,” but I reckon a lot of people would still like to look at big haboobs, regardless.
First, here is bonafide proof that people on the County Island got no common sense at all. You’d never catch a horse headin straight into a haboob on purpose like this, well, unless he was a foolish palomino colt who didn’t know better back in the day:
Second, here is a damned song that our bucket gal persisted in singin at us horses the mornin after the haboob high-tailed it out of here. I found myself hummin this song under my breath for days after. It was like a worm of this song done crawled into my ear and I couldn’t shake it out for tryin.
And lastly, here is a fine picture of my big haboob to hold ya over until I got more big haboobs to show ya: