Roping and rodeo season is gearing up to the usual spring frenzy and those ropers that find themselves afoot are doing some horse shopping.
The used-horse business flourishes but unless you get a far piece beyond your territory, everybody knows you, your business and the horse you might be looking at.
Heard at the arena: “He don’t know it, but that horse will make your eyes pop,” said one cowboy.
“No way. I know that horse and he’s one of the uglier ones to be found,” said the other cowboy.
“I’m not talking about his looks,” retorted the first cowboy. “I’m talking about the fact that he stops so hard on his front feet that when your crotch hits the saddle horn, your eyes will pop.”
This is important criteria to know.
Then there are Joe and Pete, whose names have been changed since it was established one of them can read, and didn’t so much enjoy his newfound notoriety when his antics previously hit print.
As a precaution, their undercover names will be kept to a simple, one syllable.
Joe and Pete, when we last spoke of them, were going to win the world without bothering with any roping practice. Not needed, they were sure of that. That spree lasted about six weeks and came to an unremarkable close.
Spring fever has again beset the pair and the difference this year is that they both decided they needed new horses. Joe’s horse, Hack Rein, is 20-plus years old and Pete’s trusty steed, Stix, has seen 21 years and counting.
Besides being naturally tightfisted, neither of them are flush with funds. Rick is the friend designated to alleviate the current cash flow issue with a little horse trading in the mix.
Joe is going to sell Hack Rein to Rick. That gets Rick mounted. Joe has neglected to tell him that Hack Rein has a slight bob to his head and at times, a serious limp.
Hack Rein is a heading horse, so Rick will be a header.
Joe is then going to buy Pete’s horse, Stix, who also has a slight bob to his head and on bad days, will limp slightly. That gets Joe mounted. Stix is also a heading horse, so Joe will be a header.
Pete is the only one left afoot. He is looking at a black horse said to be priced extremely reasonable. As mentioned, that’s a serious consideration with this bunch.
The black horse has been known to occasionally limp and to stop on his front feet pretty hard. Recall the earlier “eye popper” conversation. He, too, is a heading horse, but an extremely good bargain.
All three ropers are now mounted and will shortly begin practice to win the world when the weather warms up and arenas dry up. It has not yet occurred to them that that all three of them will have to be headers. The excitement over their “new” horses has, at least temporarily, clouded that detail of reality.
The upside of this is that counting on heelers to show up is just as iffy. The most recent best excuse by a heeler to not to show up to a roping was he’d decided to enter a coyote calling contest instead. Hey, it happens.
For those watching this scenario unfold, there is a suggestion of confidence that the trio may not figure out that all of them are headers until they go to enter a roping. Like last year’s unnecessary practice, planning ahead is rarely the selected option.
The mental image of them riding their head-bobbing, gimping horses around the arena while they try to figure out how to make a team out of three headers, lends itself to a “three stooges in cowboy hats” moment.
You can almost already hear the “N’yuk, n’yuk, n’yuk.”
Julie can be reached for comment at firstname.lastname@example.org.