Butch and Chope

On the Edge of Common Sense
Baxter Black, DVM

Butch has a theory about hardcore born-to-rope ropers; as soon as they build a loop and take one swing, it kicks their brain out of gear.

To demonstrate how this theory works he told me about a friend of his. We’ll call him ‘Chope’, for short.

Butch was runnin’ a ranch in the wilds of New Mexico east of Las Vegas. He’d bought a set of braymer bulls to put on his braymer cross cows and one of the bulls had turned out to be a bad actor. He’d shornuf do some damage if you cornered him.

It came time to pull the bulls. They gathered ‘em in a corral along with whatever cows came along. As they were workin’ the cows out the gate one of the bulls kept tryin’ to escape. It was that shornuf bad bull.


Chope was horseback watchin’ the gate. The third time the bull tried to slip out, Chope, who was tied hard and fast, slapped a loop on him.

The bull turned and thundered back across the corral. Chope pitched the slack and was tryin’ to square his horse around when the bull hit the end of the line. All 1,400 pounds of him.

Chope’s horse had only got halfway around and was sideways to the bull when the slack ran out. He was slammed to the ground! Butch said he could see that nylon rope stretch an extra 5 feet as the bull was lifted off his front quarters till he looked like Trigger. At that same moment he heard a sound like Mickey Mantle drivin’ one over the centerfield fence. The saddle horn had broken off!

The rope with saddle horn attached cracked like a whip and lashed straight for a horse tied to the fence. It just missed a dismounted cowboy and coiled around the horse’s pommel and saddle horn. The tail with Chope’s horn still attached whopped the horse’s butt. The horse bucked loose, breakin’ his reins and the bull galloped off draggin’ the line.

Butch looked back to see Chope madly tyin’ another rope to his saddle through the gullet.

“Whattya doin’?” asked Butch.

“I’m gonna rope him and get my rope back,” answered Chope.

Butch stared at him. His broken saddle sat cockeyed, his hat was gone. His poor horse was shakin’ like a front row spectator at a rock and roll concert. You could almost hear his ears ringin’. It was like Chope was lashing him to a harpoon.

Butch placed his hand over Chope’s and said, “Let’s think about this a minute … nobody’s dead yet.” ❖