A Cow Horse I Once Knew

Here’s a good video from the Wyoming Office of Tourism highlighting some of the uniqueness of Wyoming and the west. There is a tall, lanky, pale palomino in that horse herd, reminding me of a horse I once knew. The story follows below.

We were working on a very large cattle ranch. The lanky palomino was in my husband’s string of ranch horses. We called him High Yeller. He was a veteran of cow horse work. He was getting up in years, long rides were too hard on him, so he found is way into my string of one.

I was new to cow work and I learned a lot from High Yeller, not the least of which is that even old horses can buck. High Yeller seemed to think it was part of his big-sky-cow-horse persona to buck; even at his ripe old age of 26. You could almost see him smile a smart aleck’s smile when he pitched and bucked.

I learned how to ride through a bunch of expectant heifers on that yellow horse. Anyone who does a respectable job riding the drop pen knows you have two goals in mind: One, get the heifer to the calving shed before she starts calving, and second, don’t get her riled up. Get her there at a walk if you can.

Reaching those two goals simultaneously is a practice in patience, perseverance, and skill.

I was mostly lacking that third quality, but High Yeller had it in spades. If you watched closely you’d see High Yeller never made eye contact with the heifers as we slowly walked through the herd looking for the tell tale signs a heifer was soon to give birth, but the instant I let him know I had one I wanted to take, he was on that soon-to-be mama like glue.

From the second High Yeller put his eye on a cow, she was his. I swear he was dominating her by the look he gave her. If she looked left she saw High Yeller, if she looked right, he was there! I never had to do anything more as we took the heifer to the shed. I just sat there and watched Yeller do his thing. The heifer never thought about running or darting off. She knew it was pointless. So there we were, taking her to the shed at a nice slow walk.

High Yeller made it look like I knew what I was doing. I’ll always thank him for that.


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