“There’s just one thing that keeps him from being the best cowboy ever—he’s worthless.” That quote from John Erikson covers a lot of things, not just cowboys. However, as usual, my story heads down that trail.

Troy is cowboy, a roper, a contractor, husband, father, grandfather and a horse trader.

The trader qualities likely negate the credibility of the others and the stated order is probably not in proper priority according to Troy. However, the story will set that straight.

This week Troy has four good rope horses. They come and go. Sometimes he’s afoot and has to borrow horses to rope on.

When he will finally, actually, buy a horse for his own use, some fool will come along and offer him big bucks and it’s gone.

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He is the quirky kind of roper-slash-horseman, one that can make any plug look like a winner. People buy his horses because they think that the horse will make them as good a roper as Troy.

When Troy is afoot and needy for a horse to rope on, he gets pitifully melancholy.

He’d been to a benefit roping over the weekend and it set his mind to thinking perhaps he needed such a roping for himself.

The roper benefiting from the roping had an appendectomy. He was a truck driver, working for a big company and had health insurance, but was having trouble meeting the $500 deductible because he had to save his money for entry fees.

He also needed some time off to recuperate. He was running out of sick leave and didn’t want to use any of his vacation days. He needed those for ropings come summer. The “benefit” package of such a roping was looking good to Troy.

His personal pity party included the recall of all his most recent woes. He’d spent a couple days sitting around a distant hospital waiting on a grandbaby’s arrival. Once that happened, his wife gave him permission to go home.

He hit the ranch gate in full anticipation of fun. He went directly to gather up his horses, get them saddled and head over to this local benefit roping. As he led the horses to the trailer, he noticed one of them was limping. A close examination revealed he needed to call the horseshoer.

So he headed back to the house to use the phone and simultaneously remembered he was supposed to be watching his other two grandchildren who had been dropped off just as he arrived. He called his father-in-law to come get the kids, called the horseshoer and then went back out to the barn.

When he got there, his hired hand yelled at him that water was “coming out of the house.”

He remembered that he had to gather clothes for the kids anyway, so he went back to the house. He found massive amounts of water gushing out of a wall. Quickly taking the siding and the insulation off, he found that the pipes that had been frozen earlier in the week, were now thawing and broken.

Recognizing that the repair was going to be a major job, he shut off all the water to the house. After all, the wife was still off with the new grandbaby business, what did he need water for?

Eventually, the father-in-law showed up and Troy had to shortcut him from going into the house. He got the clothes gathered up for the kids, the horseshoer arrived and did his thing and finally, Troy left for the roping.

There was a nice big buckle to be won and Troy took it as part of his plunder for the day. He roped all day long, rode down his two good horses and came out only $16 in the hole. Success is relative.

What sealed the deal for his desire for a personal benefit roping was when Troy greeted another roper he knew.

“Hey man, haven’t seen you in a while. Where have you been?”

“Aw, I’ve been working three days a week,” was the pitiful reply from the accomplished #8 roper.

“Three days? How’s that working for you?” Troy asked.

“Well, had to go to three, two didn’t work out, I couldn’t pay my bills.”

Julie, who knows a few ropers like this, can be reached for comment at jcarternm@gmail.com.