There he was, standing in all his glory, and his underwear, with his glow-in-the-dark white skin glaring in the late afternoon sun.

His spindly cowboy legs were still in his boots and his hat and sunglasses were in their places. He was holding his clothes in his right hand and a set of broken bridle reins in the other.

His wife had been doing chores at home. That was the deal. With 23 head of horses on the place, give or take a few depending if anyone had hauled any off to the sale or brought a few home, there was never any shortage of work to be done—feeding or riding.

Each afternoon she takes on the feeding duty while he saddles up a young, green horse to put some miles on before sunset. It is a good life for them, but it also keeps any dull moments from finding their way to the ranch.

The wife looked up from her work when a pretty bay Hancock filly came up the road in a high lope still wearing a saddle but without the reins on the headstall and worse yet, without her rider.

Trying not to let fear overcome her, the wife ignored the alarms going off in her heart and in her head. She and the ever-present dog jumped on the Polaris Ranger and zoomed off to find the missing cowboy on the mountain.

Calling his name as she searched the hillsides, she soon heard him holler back at her. As she drove up on the scene, her first words were, “What in the hell are you doing?”

This, by the way, is a phrase of standard dialogue if you are married to a cowboy and one that both parties will use with wild abandon.

There is no good answer to that question in a situation like this, but the cowboy told her anyway. “The filly spooked and when she jumped, I hung a spur in her accidentally,” he said “She really went to bucking, and was really getting with it. Then all of a sudden, a rein snapped.”

“I tried to pull her around with the other rein to get her stopped,” he said. “But it broke, too. Then she was really getting with it and well, she just flat bucked me off.”

His wife was obviously concerned for him, as he wasn’t a kid anymore and those hard landings take their toll. However, she was somewhat more concerned about why he was standing there on the hillside half naked.

Asking about the obvious seemed called for. “So why are you walking home naked?”

“She bucked me off in a prickly pear cactus,” he said as he turned to reveal millions of cactus spears sticking in the backside of his body.

It took his wife and daughter six hours of tweezing cactus spines out of his back, arm, leg, head and other assorted assaulted spots. The pain finally did subside. However, the humiliation of his plight over those broken bridle reins will last for as long as anyone remembers the story. I’m just doing my part in helping the memories continue.

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