Ol’Yeller, Part 1



by Robert Shuford 
Back in about 1985 or so, I was just day working around in the Carrizo Springs area. I heard they were going to catch some cattle down on this ranch below Catarina where I had grown up, I decided to go get in on the fun.

We had been using my pickups when we got in that night, everybody unloaded their gear but me. I headed down to the ranch, got in a little late because of this little beer joint in Asherton ……and only found out the next morning I had everything but my leggings. A lot of people call’em chaps, but over in Southwest Texas we call them leggins’. One of the guys I had been working with accidentally took my leggins’ instead of his out of my truck. So I used the ones he left behind. These leggins’ were true batwings, big floppy things more suitable for rodeo than pasture, but they fit fairly good and I wore’em.
The ranch manager’s son, Charlie Brown, then gave me a bit stout yellow colored horse to ride. He said he’d been riding him about four months and hadn’t had any trouble with him other than he was still a little green. That was fine with me. 
We headed out, no problems, didn’t even try to hump up.  So we got to the trap we’re going to gather and started pushing everything to a corner to throw everything together, then drive down the fence to the pens. By the way, the trap was about 1,500 acres. We got there to the corner, let the cattle circle a little and settle some (they were pretty goosy), then started out. Charlie told me and two other guys to go through a gate in the corner and stay on the outside to help keep’em from jumping over the fence, and to catch the ones that did. Being the youngest, I opened the gate, let the other boys through and closed it. By the time I went to get on, everyone had rode off to catch up with the herd. I never thought anything about it and went to get on Ol’ Yeller.
Well, it was pretty windy that day and when I stepped up, those batwing rodeo chaps must’ve flapped  just right (or wrong) and Ol’ Yeller just cartwheeled me out there. When I got my senses  back together and pulled out a few thorns, Yeller was headed down the fence to the rest of the bunch. Evidently Charlie hadn’t gotten around to the ground tying part of this horse’s training. “Whoa, darn you,” I said, or words to that effect. Of course, it had no affect at all. Ol’ Yeller just kept walking. I got to say, I was a little disappointed. 
Needless to say, Ol’ Yeller shows up, one of the boys catches him, looks for me and hollers “come on” when I’m going as fast as I can in them danged heavy flopping batwings, which I’m as mad at as that horse.
I get my reins, get a good holt, step up and dadgum if he doesn’t throw me off again. Except, I’ve got an audience now. 
“Darn, heck,” thinks I. Well, I don’t have to walk this time ’cause they’re already caught Ol’ Yeller, and are waiting on go round No.3. This time I jerk his head over as I go up in the saddle, I get planted with both feet in the stirrups and turn him loose and he won’t do nothing. He acts like I hurt his feelings treating him like that. But the boys had a good laugh, we didn’t spill any cattle, I didn’t get pitched on my head anymore that day, and I got my leggins’ back as quick as I could. 

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