Gwen Petersen: In a Sow’s Ear 5-2-11 |

Gwen Petersen: In a Sow’s Ear 5-2-11

To pull one’s leg – to deceive someone playfully: Hoax. So says Webster’s.

Last fall when horseshoer Digby (a pseudonym for his real name – to protect the guilty), came to my place to trim horses, he brought a crew of three shoers with him. He spent the traveling miles solemnly telling the fellers that they should brace themselves. That they would be facing six enormous half-broke draft horses. By the time they arrived at my place, Digby had the gang pretty well stirred up.

They piled out of the rig, grim determination written on their faces. Which expressions turned to sheepish chuckles as they opened the gate to the corral to be met with five miniature horses. The tallest one reaches just to my waistline.

A few days ago, Digby showed up at my place again for spring trimming. This time he traveled alone. While I held halter ropes and Digby clipped hooves, I queried him about his early training as a consummate leg-puller.

“Started when I was a youngster. I was just a 16-year-old kid. My Dad got me a job with Hank Durfy, a neighbor rancher, to shoe his horses and I wanted to do as good job as I could.”

“Was it a rough job?”

“Nahh, they were gentle. I did okay with the first three. It was the fourth one that got me in trouble.”

“Oh? What happened?”

“Well, Hank claimed I killed his horse.”

“Oh, my, that’s a serious charge! What did you do?”

“Hells Bells, I didn’t do anything! He brought in this old crowbait. I didn’t even have to tie his halter rope to a post. He stood nice and quiet.”

“But he died?”

“Yeah, I nailed shoes on three of his feet. Just started on the fourth when the darned Cayuse fell over dead.”

“Wow. Must have been a nasty shock.”

“Yeah, I felt terrible.”

“I’ll bet,” I said. “What did Hank say?”

Digby straightened, stretched his back, looked at the far horizon and drawled, “He stared for about forever at that dead horse. Then he put his hands on his hips, shook his head and growled, ‘Whatcha done, kid? That was a good horse. What did ya do? Ya killed him. Some kinda shoer you are!'”

“Oh-oh,” I sympathized.

“I tried to tell him I didn’t do anything. But he stomped off. Came back a few minutes later driving a backhoe.”

“To bury the corpse?”

“Nope, he scooped it up and dumped it in the bed of his pickup. Then he climbed down from the backhoe, got in the pickup and drove away.”

“Where to?”

“Town. Darned guy went all over town and stopped at every bar. Took people out to his pickup to show ’em a dead horse with new shoes nailed on three feet and one hoof bare. Hank told folks I’d charged him for shoeing the Cayuse when anyone could see the job was unfinished!”

If higher institutions awarded degrees for the art of leg-pulling, every horseshoer, cowboy and rancher would earn a PhD (Piled Higher and Deeper).

Makes me proud to know ’em.


Oops we goofed … In last week’s column on Cody Cowboy Songs, the photographer was listed wrong, it should have been Bob Kiskan instead of Don Lindeberg!

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