Seein as how I’m an old — which means wise —retired ranch horse, I got some ranch brands seared into my hide. I’m told I got a number 8 by the back of my butt, pardon my indelicate french. I ain’t never had really got a good look at it, myself, ‘cause a horse never wants to look at his own butt, well, not unless he’s tryin’ to turn himself around to check if his tail’s been pinked. Talk is, that 8’s the last number of the year I was born, whatever that means to a person, and I don’t know why people seem to care so much about a number.
And I also got my ranch brand, back when I was a colt on the ranch. Every horse got a ranch brand soon as he was old enough to go to work and be a useful horse, to signify he was property of the ranch, which is to say, important to the ranch’s smooth operations, ‘cause without us, the cowboys and ranch hands couldn’t mend the fences, nor check the watering holes, nor keep the cattle in line, and if cattle ain’t kept in line, all hell can break loose on a ranch. Y’all know what kinda hell Moo the pampered pet cow raised. And I’ve talked of the coddled pet cows used to play rope-a-cow games on the County Island, cows with addled, no-good names like Chocolate Chip and Oreo. Namin a cow at all is the first mistake. And the people are always ponderin where my ranch brand’s from, when it seems real plain to me that, well, “duh,” as Coors and Coors Light would say, it’s from the ranch.
I don’t know if people ever think much about good brandin as they go about their people-lives, but they should. As far as ranchin goes, I reckon a horse could go so far as to say your brand is akin to your reputation. A good brand can take a good horse far. A horse with a bad brand and a bad name might as well put himself on the truck and call himself done.
This here – now, this is a good and proper brand.
And it is, if I may boast a bit, affixed to a right good horse. Y’all can likely see how it was branded onto me clearly, so as to serve as the hallmark, which is a high-falutin word for brand, of a good ranch and the good horses that serve it. My brand stands out, and it tells everybody everywhere just from lookin at it what kind of horse I am, and where I come from. It shows I been a workin horse, not some pampered prancified horse that ain’t never done an honest day’s work. And not some fancy “warm blood” horse, ‘cause we all got the same warm blood, don’t we? My brand tells any rancher who knows anythin, which means I’m excludin the bucket gal and I reckon all the folks on the County Island from this, exactly who I am, where I’m from, what I’ve done, and what y’all can expect of me. All in one clear brandin message.
Now, this brand – and to tell the truth, I ain’t positive it’s even meant to be a brand – well, it’s questionable.
And it’s on Coors Light’s hide, Coors Light himself bein somewhat questionable as far as I’m concerned. They put it on him when they sheep-sheared him this spring. But instead of a brandin iron, they used clippers. Ain’t that ridiculous?
Shortly after he was thus branded, our bucket gal was prancin him around in our prancin arena, when one of the people of the County Island rode by on her own good horse, and I heard that person stop to ask our bucket gal, “What’s that supposed to be? Is it a lightning bolt?”
And I thought, that’s my point exactly! What’s it supposed to be? So I moseyed closer to try to overhear the answer.
But the bucket gal merely said, oh it’s a lightnin bolt, and the lady on horseback merely said, oh how cute, and me and the horseback lady’s good horse merely rolled our eyes at each other, and Coors Light gave us both the stink eye.
What kind of a brand is a lightnin bolt supposed to be on a horse? Lightnin ain’t a ranch! I suppose maybe a lightnin bolt brand would be a good brand if a horse was a lightnin, but now all this talk has got me so addled that I’m speculatin whether a horse can be lightnin, and of course a horse can’t. A horse is a horse, and lightnin is, well, I don’t know what lightnin is other than big, fast-movin crackly light in the sky. That’s ridiculous. It ain’t even like Coors Light is fast like lightnin. So what kind of message is his brand sendin out? A confused one, at best, and a laughable one otherwise. Why would you brand an entirely un-lightnin-like horse with lightnin?
Brandin should be more thoughtful than that, in my estimation. It ain’t somethin a person should do to a horse in haste with a pair of clippers. It’s got to be more lastin than that. It’s also got to be clear as to what it is, like my ranch brand is clearly my ranch brand.
And then a while later I saw another County Island horse get ridden by our corral, a big ol’ strappin muscular Quarter Horse. And he had a big ol’ sissy daisy flower clipper-branded onto his butt. A daisy flower! So since I was right there at the fenceline, I had to ask that horse, deadpan, “Son, are you a daisy?” He didn’t even turn to look at me, just kept chewin on his bit and grumblin to himself, somethin about damned people and their damned senses of humor. And right then my world got turned as upside down as stink bug that’s done rolled over.
People can have senses of humor? Surely not like horses. I don’t like that notion. Not one bit. And our bucket gal best keep those clippers far from me. I already got two good brands. I don’t need no more.