A Day on the Round-up

  by Mike Capron 
Recently I had a friend get his leg broken during a local round-up. It was a case of everyday life on Hurricane Deck of a Spanish Mule. The Cowboy was a seasoned hand and knew the ropes and how to survive the moment, but safety is never guaranteed in this lifestyle. His methods were tested and had worked for him in the past, but father time had been dealing him a new hand lately. 

This is the excitement of the moment and something to look forward to. Many men have survived the lifestyle others haven’t. I am always impressed with the difference styles and methods. Most of them get the job done in the end. I have always been a little hard headed and thought my way was the best way, but here again time has showed me different.
This is an example of how a man gets it done his way a long time ago. 
                                                A Day on the Round-up 
from the book;
                                                   “The Chisholm Trail”
                                                        Sam P. Ridings 
                                           (this story happened in the 1880’s)
The day on the round-up had begun. Silent riders, fresh from their warm blankets, guided their horses from the camp. One headed to the cattle to relieve the last night herder. Others started for the horses belonging to the various outfits. Soon a bunch of saddle horses galloped across the prairie to the camp. As these animals approached the wagons a cowboy raised a rope, one end of which was attached to a wagon wheel. Other cowboys held the farther reaches of the rope and soon the horses were almost encircled by a rope corral held in the hands of the cowboys. The hoses that were gentle enough were approached by the cowboys, to whose allotted strings they belonged. The ones which could not be approached had ropes tossed over their heads and each rider soon had his mount saddled and ready for the day’s  work, The cry of breakfast was then sounded from each wagon, and the men approached, took their pint tin cups of coffee from the lid of the chuck box, the door of which had been dropped and served as a table on which were placed the various articles of food. Each man took his plate and helped himself to the bacon and other articles, and seated himself on the ground in tailor fashion, and breakfast was soon over. 
With one of these outfits was a young cowboy, who had recently joined the same. He had soon made it known according to his own admissions and statements that he was an unusually effective rider of bad horses. He had also made it known that in riding these horses he used what was known as a “pitching or bucking strap.” This was a long strap securely fastened to the saddle, to which the rider would hold and brace himself while his mount went through all the contortions known to it in trying to dislodge him. The use of this strap was considered to be below the dignity a broncho rider, and was a violation of the legitimate rules of broncho busting and bad horse riding. Even holding to the saddle, which was termed “grabbing leather,” was designated as a weakness. However, men on the range have often seen this strap used, as well as hobbled stirrups.
On account of the self-advertised ability of this young man to ride, he was quietly slipped the worst horse in the outfit. He had not ridden this horse before , but on this particular morning it was caught and tied for his use. As he approached with his saddle, it rolled its eyes until the white portions were the most conspicuous part of the animal. It looks at the rider with apparent contempt, as if to say, “If you think you are going to ride me, you are just fooled.” The horse gave a gigantic snort, jumped sideways, and pulled further away. Another cowboy, as was customary under the circumstances, came to the assistance of the rider. The horse was securely tied, the bridle place on him, and he was blindfolded. The saddle was place on his back and was cinched tightly with both cinches. The rope was taken up, the young man landed in the saddle, and anchored himself to his trusty strap. The blindfold was removed, and the rider’s quirt cracked in the horse’s flank. This outlaw-horse, for he was an outlaw, from the very tracks in which he stood sailed through the air. These horses, being well experienced in separating their riders from their saddles, became absolutely proficient in the various tricks adopted to bring about that result, and the longer that practiced the more proficient that grew. This animal was large and strong, and certainly had had experience. 
Many of these horses had tricks of their own, and it was very seldom, that two horses were found which had the same routine or went through the same performance, A man unfamiliar with the plan followed by a particular horse labors under a disadvantage in riding the animal the first time, Most horses drop their heads and raise their rumps high, and then twist and sun-fish. This horse, with all his independence, disdained this method. He reared his head high, and  sailed through the air as if he intended to quit the earth. When he came down his rear portion was at such an elevation that he was almost standing on his head. The shock of the landing was almost beyond endurance, The sudden change of his course and the landing was sufficient to break a man in twain. This rider stayed on the horse’s back during all his contortions and efforts that would have apparently dislodged anything. During this time ,however, he was hanging tenaciously to his strap, to which he was as much attached as a drowning man would be to a life-preserver. Finally the horse made a terrific plunge, and as he suddenly changed his course the strain on this strap became too great and it broke. The rider literally drew a semi-circle in the air as complete as a rainbow and landed squarely on the top of his head. He did not move for some time, but by the time the other boys reached him he had begun to stir. He soon raised up, rubbed his face, shook his head, as if to determine whether it would fall off, and presently stood on his feet rather unsteadily.
By the time the dismounted man could walk well, the horse had been caught and brought back. The rider procured another strap and prepared to mount again. From this determination he gained the respect of his fellow riders, and they expressed themselves to the effect that he was not so bad after all. These boys who had been so intent on teaching him a lesson, after observing his grit and determination, and knowing the reputation of this horse, tried to persuade him not to try to mount this animal again. He was, however, determine and assured them that his bucking strap would hold this time, and that he had ridden worse horses. He mounted the animal again, in spite of their protests, and by so doing won the respect of his associates. He rode this horse, and not only subdued it, but convinced the entire outfit that he really could ride, even though he did use a strap to anchor him.
The riders who had congregated to see the fun now dispersed. The wagons of the different outfits were soon loaded and on the move.
Well, I will eat more crow, I have always heard that a night latch,…bucking strap, would do nothing but get you bucked off and hurt on a bad bucking horse.   More exceptions to the rules.  My good friend who suffered the broken leg had a night latch on his saddle and I blamed the night-latch for the wreck and broken leg.  Now I have to eat more crow.


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