By: Austin Brown - #139
In 2002, I hired a guy and his wife to oversee a ranch in the Hill Country. He kinda looked the part and had some grey hair and I was hard up for help so I bit. Besides bringing a very talkative wife who could really cook, he brought several horses, of course. That was fine but this place was worked with a horn and feedsack so his horses got kinda fat. He claimed that he was quite a horse peddler and had sold a lot of horses to celebrities out West and said he could sure pick a fast horse.
One of his saddle horses was a pretty little line-back dun mare about three years old. He said she was green-broke and he would like to finish her there on the ranch. “No problem”, I said, so they moved in and did the water checkin’, fence mendin’, cow callin’, and such….and trained the little mare. In several months, he bragged on her some more and invited me to sit down on her, which I did. She was gentle enough, could rein some, and was a little rough in the trot. She was registered, had small, hard black feet, and could get around in the rocks pretty good, of which there was an overabundance.
Well….turns out he needed a little cash to help with a family problem and bragged on the little mare a lot and inquired as to my buyin’ her myself. I was interested in her because we needed another saddle horse in the South Texas flat, sandy, brush country. I asked him if she was fast enough to rope on and he kinda pawed the ground and allowed that he didn’t think so but “Isn’t she pretty, though!” He didn’t know that I really didn’t need speed because she was for my granddaughter, so I bought her.
When “bull pick-up season” came around, my son, the other men, and I got saddled up and I asked a young Mexican cowboy named T. J. to ride Khaki. He was glad to except he knew he would probably not have any fun ropin’, and such, but a job is a job, so off we went to bring in a pasture of Hereford (that is pronounced Herr - reff - ford, to the ol’ timers, but I digress) pairs. They were stocked with big, high-headed Brahman (pronounced Brimmer, to the ol’ timers) bulls to throw tiger-striped F1 females. Now, those bulls were not too hard to handle as long as you showed ‘em who was boss and did not let them take advantage of you, your horse, or your bull whip. What could possibly go wrong?
As usual, things went along pretty good until we got the two hundred cows and calves to the pen gate. Now, I had enough mounted men to handle pert-near all the herd as long as they ALL went along peacefully. So, you can guess what happened next. Yep. One of the biggest Brimmer bulls broke and ran right through the middle of me and my son so close that it scraped the flies off of him!! I hollered “rope that white son-of-a-buck” as I took down my rope, spun, and spurred. My son was well mounted, too, and left with me, neck and neck– the race was on! (All hands were tied hard and fast in the South Texas way). We were gainin’ on the runaway and were both swingin’ and spurrin’ to see who would be the hero and catch the head, leavin’ the second head loop to the looser, when all of the sudden a little dun mare with a Mexican vaquero aboard blew right between us, out ran us about four lengths, and roped that bull hard!!! That’s when everything went into slow motion. When the little mare saw what she had done she started to shutdown! The nylon rope tightened, then stretched about twenty feet, recoiled like a spring, and jerked the bull down and the little dun mare was lifted and sprung forward landing right on top of the bull.
Dang! What a sight! The mare staggered to her feet trembling all over, the bull stayed down and sulled, and the Vaquero quietly remounted and said, “Boss, I thought you said this little mare from the hill country couldn’t run! Well, she probably didn’t know it either until she got away from all those rocks!!!”
Little Khaki made a good‘un and could outrun any horse on the ranch and all that visited. She is turned out now to graze and is only called for when we need an extra. The seller of the horse? Well, he could have made a few bucks on that mare in quarter-mile races IF he had ridden her on open, flat country….just once. I’ve thought many-a-time “it’s too bad that we don’t have any light, wiry Indian kids in this country!!”