Our horseshoein man likes to tell stories, so instead of snoozin while he files down my hooves, I like to listen to him talk, unlike a lot of humans, who truthfully I try not to hear. My favorite is the one about the rainin horse and the tiny telephone. But recently, he told a doozy, and this time I’m sure it’s all made-up.
He and our bucket gal was blabberin with their people-words, and I picked out “donkey” and “cow” and “horse,” so I woke up to try to hear more about the cow part, since I used to work cattle for a livin. They were talkin about “miniature,” which is a fancy way to say “tiny,” critters. We got some tiny horses and tiny donkeys around the County Island, which I ain’t real impressed with. But then they said there was also tiny cows, and the horsehoein man said he’d seen a herd of tiny cows at the far end of the County Island, where there’s a ranch that runs tiny cows, on purpose. And even breeds ‘em. Again, on purpose.
Right there, I knew he was makin things up. What would a person do with a tiny cow? I reckon the people could still eat ‘em — in one tiny bite. I snorted softly through my horse nostrils at that. I thought to myself, I suppose that’d give new meanin to “petit filet.” Yeah, I know my cow cuts — the eatin kind, as well as the workin cuttin kind that ranchers do with cows before they go on to become supper and such.
Petit filets… horse-chuckle, to myself… I reckoned they’d also have some true short ribs on ‘em.
And then, like the bucket gal could read a horse’s mind, I heard her laughin, “That’s awesome! I’ll have the petit filet! [She said it like I hadn’t thought of it first.] Or imagine the short ribs! Gives new meaning to short shank!” She and the horseshoein man thought they was the funniest damned people that ever lived.
But then I set to thinkin on short shanks, as my hooves finished bein done.
A shank, in addition to bein an eatin part of a cow, is also a western bit, as y’all may not know if you’re not experienced in the ways of the ranch horse, which a lot of County Island people are deficient in. A horse starts out with the short shanks when he’s young, and graduates to the long shanks with their greater leverage and what’s called finesse as he gets experienced.
I figured, well then, of course a tiny cow would wear a short shank. Long shanks would trail on the ground on a tiny cow, now, wouldn’t they?
Tiny cows, wearin tiny short shank bits in their tiny cow mouths… With tiny cowboys on ‘em, ridin in tiny saddles… Maybe ropin tiny horses, in what’s called the opposite ranch-land where stuff’s all tiny and back-ass-wards, with cows ropin horses…
And then I thought — that’s got to be the dumbest thought a horse has ever had.
This is what the County Island does to a horse, when ya got too much time on your hooves, and not enough work to do — as I did right then, with a hoof hangin in the air while the horseshoein man held it up and he and the bucket gal paused to laugh.
When I first arrived here, I would’ve ignored such talk about tiny cattle, as a horse should, ‘cause it makes no sense and it don’t pertain to a horse’s own interests. On the ranch, you learn to mind your own business. If it’s somethin you need to know about, you’ll know about it when it’s time to know about it and not a moment before that.
Now, I can see how it happens, with the spooky-looky horses around the County Island, bein raised up as they are with no jobs to do and nothin real to occupy their thoughts all day. It leads to this.
I figured I’d better go find somethin useful to do, right quick. Such as cut Original Coors away from that hay pile over there.
And then, on account of cuttin Original Coors took no time at all, and I still had these idle thoughts, I done composed what’s called poe-tree:
I hope a horse don’t ever see,
A cow no taller than my knee,
For if that cow I’m asked to cut,
It’ll be the end of me, I tell you what.
~ a poe-tree, by Whiskey