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Horses in trouble

Tales from the ONO Ranch
Mad Jack Hanks
Wellington, Colo.

Horses, like little kids and I reckon some adults find themselves in trouble from time to time. Most of the time it’s not a life threating situation, but for sure, it can be. Some time back I wrote about one of our favorite horses at the Lamar Ranch in Terrell, Texas. That would be Flax. Flax was a beautiful light sorrel with an almost white mane and tail. He was the first horse I put in my string when I arrived as no one was using him and he was usually reserved for guests etc. My son, Andy then took procession of him when Andy was around 10. He would drag calves to the fire on him at branding time. Years later when we were prepared to move to Colorado and had everything packed and we were to leave the following morning, the doorbell rang. One of my cowboys told me Flax had stuck his foot in an irrigation pipe and broken his leg. Did I want to be the one to shoot him. I couldn’t bring myself to do that so I handed my pistol to my cowboy and let him do that ugly chore.

Yesterday when I had finished riding, I turned my two horses out to graze around the shop area where there was an abundance of grass. I had halters with lead ropes on them. On my older horse I tied the lead rope up around his neck as he was always stepping on it and the way he figured, he was ground tied. The other horse was skilled at dragging his rope around as he grazed. A couple of hours later I decided to check on them. I found it odd that they were standing side by side, very quiet, staring at me as I stood on the front deck. “Well, if they are through grazing, I’ll turn’em out in the pasture,” thought I. As I approached, I noticed the horse I had tied his lead rope up around his neck was in trouble. Yep, part of the lead rope had found it’s way to the ground and he had stepped on it and when he pulled back, he tightened it around the small of his neck, and he was about to choke down. Just the same, he remained very calm and let me begin to try and get him loose. I thought for a moment I might have to take a knife and try to cut it into but it was so tight I tossed that idea aside. Finally, I managed to get it loose enough I could free him and he was very relieved. I know that because when I lead him to the corral, he had his nose in my right front pocket.

Three days ago while sitting on the back deck being lazy I noticed the neighbor’s horses some half mile away in a dead run to the barn from the bottom pasture. “Man, that’s unusual,” I pondered and then I saw why. It appeared either a large wolf or a young lion was right on their tail. I decided there was no way a wolf was in this part of the country, a lion, yes. We’ve had them before. Right before they reached their corrals and barn area the lion (I think) gave up the chase. There was one smaller horse that fell behind and at one point I couldn’t see him and had the thought that he had been knocked down. But then he appeared and it seemed he was a little addled but managed to get moving again. The next morning at coffee, neighbor Eldon told us they had a mountain lion on their place (four miles west of me) the night before as they found a half eaten coyote half buried with brush and weeds.

Gentle readers, that satisfied my mind that what I saw was indeed a lion after the horses. The terrain out here is rolling with lots of rabbit brush etc. It all happened so fast I collected what I could in my brain and then it was all over. I hope all of the ponies were okay. I know the following morning my horses refused to come in the corral and go under the shed for their morning oats. They were really spooky and then I knew for sure a lion was or had been on the prowl.

Stay tuned, check yer cinch on occasion, be aware of that government lion that’s on the prowl, and I’ll c. y’all, all y’all. ❖


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