0l’ Yeller – Part 2

by Robert Shuford 
After my first go-round on and off of 0l’Yeller (heck, he was yellow-colored and made a lot of noise when he pitched, so I figured Fred Gipson wouldn’t mind), he settled down and I caught some cattle off him. We finished and I went back to town and picked back up dayworking. Then I got hurt and went down to the ranch to hair back over. The ranch manager’s wife was an M.D. and had been our family doctor for years. When I got better I decided to stay and go back to work on the cow crew. 


Charlie, the ranch manager’s son, asked me if I wanted to ride Ol‘ Yeller. I said, “Sure,” because when he wasn’t throwing me off, he was whale of a good horse. 
Yeller was about years old. Our crew had acquired him from the upper ranch when we had needed more horses. I was beginning to suspect why they had been so generous with us. 
The first time he threw me, I figured it had been that set of flapping batwing leggins that had spooked him. This time I had my own leggins – regular four-button leggins – so I predicted there would be no more problems. Thoughts like this show why I don’t run Wall Street. 
The way things worked down there, we didn’t have any goosenecks, just homemade bumper-pull trailer to load caught cattle in. So we trailed the remuda everywhere. Where we were going to work the next day was about 10 or 12 miles, so I decided to ride 0l’ Yeller just to limber him up since he hadn’t been rode in a while. I saddled him, let him soak for little while, went and walked him in a circle. He looked nice and calm so I got aholt, stepped up and never got my leg across before he pitched me on my head. I thought that was pretty impolite so, after I regained my bearings, I  decided to hurt his feelings and try him again. I pulled his head around, promptly climbed on and got seated this time. And thrown off just as quick. Well, I’m drawing crowd now, so I have to try him again. One of the boys offered to snub him. I acted like this hurt my feelings and gladly handed the lead rope over. My buddy pulled Yeller’s head in his lap, got wrap and I finally got on. I got set good, said, “Turn him loose,” (I had heard that’s what your supposed to say) and that dadblamed horse didn’t do anything. Nothing. I jobbed him in the ribs and we just started on out in a nice little trot, like he was glad to be there and on the job. That made me madder than getting thrown off. 
Now you people are sitting there thinking to yourselves, “Sounds like this fellow can’t ride pitching horse.” Well, you’re right Not him anyway. I’ve rode lots of young horses in my life. Never claimed to be a bronc rider, but could usually get on and ride pitching horse. But I’ll tell you that yellow son of gun could flat turn it on when he wanted. You know how cowboys hoorah each other. Well, they were still hoorahing me, but talking about how 0l’ Yeller could buck.
 I circled the pen a couple of times, decided nothing was going to happen (then) and we set sail. The way we did it, we trailed the horses down the day before we worked, about two or three men horseback. In a couple of hours, someone would come and get us in a pickup truck. The remuda would usually be about 30 or 40 horses from headquarters. At one point, we had around 70 horses a headquarters, but a lot were colts not ready to go out. The outlying camps had fewer horses, We usually had 10 to 12 men at headquarters and four to seven at each camp. Most of the hands, except Charlie and me, were from Mexico, all legal, and depending on who had gone home for a few days, we usually had 20 to 25 cowboys horseback every morning.
All the old horses knew how and where to travel, and usually the two or three men could just follow, talking. Now and then one of the young horses would peel off so you ease over and put him back. We had gone about 8 or 9 miles at a fair trot and I had got my confidence back about Ol’Yeller. Bad mistake on my part.
I peeled off to throw one of the horses back with the others. I sort of kicked Ol’ Yeller into a low lope and was getting around the other horse when I leaned one way to go around a bush. I know he felt me lean, so he blew up and about four jumps later he stacked me off again. The third time that afternoon. That’s not my personal high record for one day, but it is for one horse. 
One of the boys caught him for me, snubbed him again, and I got on. We went on like nothing had happened. We got to the night trap and turned the horses in ( I didn’t offer to open the gate) then rode down to the pens where the pickup was waiting and went back to headquarters.
Nothing to it. 
To be continued 


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