“Hola, amigos. Mi llama es Taco. I once had another name, but when I got a new home, I got a new name and a new profession.”
Some of you may remember Taco the Border Horse. I told his story a long time ago, but like most legends, a re-telling keeps the legend alive. As before, the story is really better told by Taco himself, but let me set it up for him.
At the time we met, Taco was in training to be an ace speed-demon team roping horse on the heels end of the roping steer. But for you to understand who he became, he first needs to establish his credentials from his previous employment.
The story according to Taco goes like this:
“When I was a colt, starting out my working life, I was known as Chapo Bueno. In the language spoken in Mexico, that was a quite a compliment. It means “good pony.”
I was born of purebred Spanish Hidalgo bloodlines. This was evident in my beautiful coat, flowing mane and tail and my kind intelligent eyes.
At an early age, I was partnered to Jose Maria, the top vaquero on a large cattle ranch. Jose loved me and taught me patiently the ways of cattle and how to work them. We worked hard, made mucho dinero for the patrón and I became known as a top mount.
As it was in ranching everywhere at the time, grass became short in Mexico. The patrón asked Jose to do a little night work taking wet cattle across the river to Texas to sell. Of course, Jose took me, his top horse, to help get the cattle across the river.
We pushed them hard by moonlight, laid them up by day, and in the seven days it took to get them all across the river, we had no trouble. In this fashion, we shipped all the cattle belonging to the patrón.
At the end of the cattle drives, the patrón thought that since Jose and I were so good at being border bravos, we should continue our night riding with a little different contraband. Jose was reluctant to be on the other side of the law, and I was insulted to be asked to carry a packsaddle. However, it was work and we needed work.
Our good luck deserted us on our first run with the contraband as La Migra gathered us in at the border. Jose patted me, told me goodbye, and slipped off into the night. The other horses and I were taken into custody, the drugs taken to the police station and later we were taken to auction.
When I was arrested, I was wearing a packsaddle so no one knew of my ability as a top cow horse. For this reason, I was sold for a pittance to a kind man who could see only my plight. This man had a good friend in Texas and I was soon sent there. Fortunately, he spoke Spanish and taught me the basics of English. We got along fine.
When I first arrived, I made a few mistakes. One of those was that I ate all the briars along his fence line. He explained that in Texas, it was customary to feed me hay and grain.
The man began teaching me to be his heeling horse. He soon recognized that my cow horse athletic abilities were an advantage for us both. My royal heritage afforded me the perfect conformation to be outstanding in this new profession.
There remained a few mysteries about this new life that I had yet to understand, like why the roper named me Taco, but at any rate, I was happy to have a home. I decided as long as I got oats, he could call me anything he wanted.”
As Taco progressed in his career, he was indoctrinated into the mindset that winning the world was paramount but if that didn’t happen, just doing well at the task before him made the feed bucket show up quicker. Team roping comes with that basic mentality.
I’m not sure what became of Taco as he faded in the sea of rope horses tied to the fence at a million roping arenas in Texas. But we should not forget that at one time he was worthy of being called Chapo Bueno.
Life can sometimes can take us down a notch and the world will call us “Taco” but it doesn’t change who we are at heart.
Julie can be reached for comment at firstname.lastname@example.org.