ONE OF MY other duties while working on the Crazy Mule ranch was to take care of the yearling bulls out on pasture. A couple of times a week I’d haul my horse out to the pasture, bringing saddle bags armed with needles, syringes, and antibiotics.
One day I came across a bull with an advanced case of foot rot. I really wasn’t looking forward to such a project, as the colt I was riding handled about as well as a Mack truck with no shocks or brakes and a flat on the right front tire. Of course, he compensated by being as graceful and smooth to ride as a one-legged kangaroo.
Being so well mounted, I really hoped that I could slip up at a walk, catch the bull by both heels, and stretch him out. A 1200-pound bull is a little hard for me to flank down and tie. Turned out this bull was a bit shy and decided to leave the country, so I spurred ol’ King Klutz up to the chase. Another thing ol’ Klutz didn’t have going for him was speed. We moved up on the bull about as fast as a five-legged basset hound tripping over his ears while chasing a three-legged rabbit, but eventually we got there. About the time I was going to throw my loop, the bull ducked left while Klutz caught his aforementioned flat tire in a rut and ducked right. It only took four or five sections to get the bull turned around, and once we got lined up again, it was kind like deja vu: It happened all over again. This time I got the colt turned around within only a couple of sections, and I was ready. When our paths crossed, I tossed a hooilihand over my left shoulder and caught the bull doing ninety in the opposite direction. Flipping my slack over my body, I went to
the horn and burned off about forty feet of poly as the bull jerked Klutz in a sharp, stumbling turn. Klutz came to an abrupt, knee-dragging, face-skiing stop, but we still had the fugitive. I rode a few circles around the bull to tangle his back feet in my twine and trip him up so I could tie him down and treat him.
Once I had a good look at the foot, I decided he would need a little more than the medication I was carrying and would be better off in a pen for a few days. The chase had terminated a hundred yards from the highway, and one of the fence crew happened by as I was making my decision. Ed asked if I needed any help and even offered to give me a ride back to my outfit in his truck. It was an offer I couldn’t refuse, given the alternative of riding my four-legged pogo stick.
As we drove off, Ed commented, “If anyone drives by and looks over there, it’s going to look like one heckuva wreck to them.”
Sure enough, when I returned with the pickup, there was a car parked along the highway, and a concerned citizen was looking for my body, not having noticed that my horse was hobbled and the bull was tied down. I thanked the man for having concern enough to stop and backed my trailer up to the bull, figuring on dragging him in with ol’ Klutz. Wrong. He fought, bucked, pulled back, and slammed Klutz into the trailer several times before jumping halfway into the trailer, sulling up, and lying down. By this time it was well after noon, and I wasn’t halfway done with my work. The July sun was hotter than a jalapeño pepper, and I was tired of fighting this
son of a cur dog. I tied his back feet together, tied his front feet to the inside of the trailer, and doctored him with everything I had in my saddlebags plus some sulfa boluses I found in the truck.
My good Samaritan audience kept asking if there were anything he could do, but there wasn’t, as the bull lay perfectly still throughout the procedure. I figured that when I untied the patient, he would jump up and make tracks out of there. Wrong again. I
dropped my piggin strings on the ground, put my rope around the bull’s hind feet, mounted my gallant steed, and pulled the bull the rest of the way out of the trailer. That was where he lay, right in the way of me loading Klutz and on top of my piggin strings. I could move the trailer to load the horse, but I would need those piggin strings on the next animal I doctored, so I dismounted and tailed the bull up. As he calmly walked away, he managed to step on one of my piggin strings with one foot and swung the other into the loop on the other end, pulling it tight around his foot.
Perhaps reacting a little quickly, I grabbed the end of the piggin string and pulled his foot back, making sure my body remained directly in back of him since bulls have a hard time charging in reverse. After only a couple of seconds of this lopsided tug of war, I had the bull’s foot in my hand and was ready to slip the rope off when my good audience decided to participate in the fun and pulled on the end of the rope to “help.” Of course, this action not only kept me from removing the piggin string from the bulls foot, it also
greatly reduced my mobility. Before I could politely ask my assistant to get the &}@! out of the way, I was eyeball to eyeball with the bull.
Since my participating audience was making sure the piggin string was tight around my body, I had no chance for a safe retreat. I
knew from experience what was coming next. I also knew I had no chance of outrunning a bull, but it was either try or stand there like a bulling pin. The beast came at me like a runaway Hyundai and was on me quicker than a porcupine quill on a dog’s nose, planting his head on my lower left cheek, implanting my hip into my shoulder, as he launched me like a little kid’s toy rocket. Luckily, he didn’t want a second shot.
“I don’t know if I can stand much more of this romance,” I muttered as I got up. After a couple of minutes I was able to move enough
to get ol’ Klutz into the trailer and away from my help so that I could finish my day’s work.
NOTE: After careful measurement, it was verified that Bull 1204C set a new world record for the 1200-pound bulltapulting class of forty-two feet, nine-and-a-half inches.
This story in an excerpt from my book Cowboy Romance (of horsesweat & hornflies), available on Amazon