Luke was riding around pretty well and I had just transitioned him to a walk after guiding a while at a lope when the phone rang. It was John. My older brother lives just south of me about 130 miles and I don’t get to see him, or his family, nearly as often as I’d like. Time is a precious commodity when you are trying to go through ten head after lunch everyday so the phone usually goes unanswered until after dark. However, the fact that Luke deserved a quick break coupled with my brother being the caller resulted in me whipping open my still beloved tough phone.
Jesse Howell needed a horse. He had made arrangements with John prior to our visit, but John had just found out that he wasn’t going to be able to pull away from work in order to meet Mr. Howell at the ranch. Well, my brother has an amazing ability to influence people and I’m no exception. The next thing I was doing was thanking him for the chance to head south and show Jesse Howell my brother’s mare. This reads a bit like my brother is a silver tounge professional persuader in it for his own benefit. I assure you he is not. He’s good because he’s genuine. He’d do it for me in a heart-beat. And he asked me to take along an additional colt for Mr. Howell to look at that I felt would fit his needs and budget.
So Tuesday morning rolls around and after getting everyone fed four lucky prospects won a free trip southward bound to Quincy. Tuseday’s are pretty nice down there. Mostly maintenance days at the beginning of the week. Your looking at projects like gate hanging, water checking, feeding, checking foaling mares, etc. It’s a steady stream of effort, but nothing that will get you hooked off the fence or round housed into the roundpen floor.
The horse demo went great. John’s mare looked great, but Mr. Howell took a fancy to the little sorrel gelding I took down there. He was a double-bred Gay Bar King two-year-old that had just started to make a move. By that I mean he was getting comfortable with the maneuvers he was being taught and starting to try a little harder. Gaining confidence. Jesse loaded him up and off they went. And just like that, I was 1 head lighter for Wednesday. The Scholl’s will be excited. The little gelding belonged to them and they’ve recently had a stroke of bad luck with the horse deal. This lick was just what they needed.
Don Lotspieche was at the ranch. For those of you who know Don, you’re already laughing. For those of you who don’t, let me try to shed some light on this stay-put-drifter. Don’s child-like wisdom will astound you with it’s insight while his cow-hand-gone-hippie facade will mesmorize you into just staring at him wondering what the hell he’s gonna come up with next.
Well he came up with plenty. He took John’s mare for a ride after Mr. Howell headed back to Premont. Don started that mare and wanted to get a couple of last rides in before calling the job done I guess. So he heads up the hill.
There aren’t many hills in South Texas. There is one on our place though. Or so that’s what we call it. It’s in the same pasture that we keep the roping steers in and it’s a great place to take a colt to just push cattle around and get them comfortable doing “real work”. When Don got back we had an interesting conversation.
“Hey James, what about that Border Collie? He worked his ass off,” he half hollered at me across the pens.
I stepped that way and he continued.
“I was loping that mare down that north fence and she was doing real good. That little charolais-cross-lookin bull that always stays off to himself was out there layin down. We rode up on him and that mare shied from ‘im a bit so I walked her back up there and made her stay put. When he got up, I tracked him ALL OVER that place until he had just about had it. He finally turned around like he was wantin’ to fight. That damn mare pinned her ears and cowwed down on him. I was real proud of her. She’s gonna be a nice mare. That yella gyp and collie dog were lettin that sucker have it the whole time.”
“Well I really like hearin that about that mare,” I said.
“Yep, that’s a nice dog,” Don said as he was noddin his head and walkin towards the saddle house.
Here is where most people would think… “What the hell?” 😉
But I know Don. I was once the young fella who would listen to the dogs when we were in the brush and tell him which way the cattle were. Then, ride like crazy trying to keep up. I’ve seen and heard about him doing things for people that few would bother doing. He’s a good man. And having a conversation with him at the ranch is most definitely worth a trip south. Well, if you can call it a conversation.
As in our little conversation today, Don knows where he’s headed in life. We might not know where Don’s headed, but Don knows. Straight ahead. What you see is what you get. The ability to disregard other’s opinions is often frowned upon and sought after by the same individuals. We could all use a lesson in turning loose. Gather your thoughts and realize who it is that you are. Then stand for something. You’ll piss some people off. But . . . if you really master the Don way of life.
You won’t care.