Athletes Made of Leather, Proud and Strong
So at this time of the Olympics let us take a look at another type of athlete hero.
"I cannot say for certain that I like the company of a horse more than a human, but I can say there have been times when that was true. I have met horses that went to war but not one that caused one"
"There are good dogs and bad dogs, but don't you dare say 'just like humans'" (ed 2010)
Just last Sunday a diamond back rattle struck at me and missed, I apologized and walked another way.
A cat has more empathy than most politicians combined.
My fish do not ever, ever speak out of turn.
I could fly like a bird, if I were a bird.
Rattlers can kill a good horse or a bad one.
Have you ever ridden a horse.
Seriously, there are many people who have not rode a horse, have you?
The Dine' Apache rode different than whites, instead of a saddle, bridle and control they were one.
Pride in Animal athletes
It has been sometime that I wrote this story. I have been to a rodeo since then. I again witnessed these magnificent beasts up close and personal. So I came back to edit this and see if I could not add something more. But as I read it, I cried again for that bull, and said a special that he is in heaven and doing fine chasing folks around. I hope you enjoy this tall tale.
I have rode with cowboys, cooked and ate with them, sweated and drank with ‘em but I ain’t no cowboy. When I was young I mostly associated with range cowboys, guys that rode a spread and took care of stock. Actually not really “spreads” but thousands of square miles of leased land in the US Southwest. Well that extends into Norte Mexico and a little time down Puebla way, nothing serious. I was lucky enough to spend some time with French horses, they got funny saddles over there and mostly ride around on lawns, go figure.
Indians I figure were my best buddies on horses, we rode bareback. Generally my pards were from an area disputed twinx Navajo and Hopi, kinda bitter like disputed. But heck us kids just loved to ride that country up near Mexican hat and over to Canyon de Chilly. Beefy Lopez and Thurman Jushonguva were my Hopi buddies and Bobby Donald and Marvin Yellowhorse were my Navajo buddies, needless to say we played Indians and Indians and did not bother much with cowboys.
I spent some time in and around rodeo folk and bullfight folks, again I am not a bronc rider or a fancy matador. I still love time out Imperial valley direction, Brawley, home of the Cattle Call, bout half hour from Mexicali Mx. I have ventured so far north as the Dakotas, buffalo days, combo rendezvous, rodeo and county fair. I had a few serious relations with some tough rodeo cowgirls that did not end well. I like rodeo cowboys and they seem to like me and my fancy education and reverence toward the beasts. I guess that brings me to the beasts.
But first let me set the record straight. I am a cook. Give me time with a horses’ hoof and you will swear its some of that filet mignon. I have rode a bronc or two and have funny looking discs to prove it. I was in Paris as an authentic American cook and with my cowboy hat and boots they just assumed I was a cowboy. I am from a rather large area called Northern Arizona, it kind of has to be large, the Grand Canyon is a small part thereof.
The beasts got the better of me. I could track and run down an elk or deer, even turkey and javelina. I could do it on foot or on the back of horse. My brother shot and killed one once and we were both devastated and vowed, never again. Well that was that about killing. But I was still a steak cook. Hold that thought that that is a dichotomy.
I have twice been associated with very good steakhouses. A famed Mormon Lake Lodge about 30 miles south east of Flagstaff, Az., and Black Springs just outside the city toward Sedona. At the lodge I was young but quickly elevated to head ramrod, cuz I could go out and celebrate a cow, and have it butchered and on the rack within hours. Racks are the big hooks in meat freezers that hang sides and other parts of the butchered cattle. I would assume that is gross to many a reader but hey that is what I was, and danged good at it. My grills were fully mesquite and one measured over twenty feet in breadth. At my peak I cooked over 2,500 steaks and burgers in one day. It was a forth o July and we were having a “clown rodeo”, that means without bulls and broncs. Can you imagine 1,000 campers and horse trailers out in the middle of nowhere? The latter time I was as an owner and a slickster buying beef and giving folks what they will pay big for – Steaks, and long tails about the cowboy good ol’ days. I was a dandy. But truth is I never had to tell a lie. What seems fantastic to most folks was just common place to me. It is known that I could smell an Elk in rut from 2 miles away. Just a big nose and attention to wind and stank.
It seems I got serious about the Lord soon after. I seemed to get it and Him, and maybe Him me. I studied with preachers and evangelists. I was a member of the Order of Saint Lukes, I became a Lay Eucharistic Minister and a Cursillista. I found a glory in all things living.
My love of cowboy culture and just plain happenstance brought me to a place on my knees. Now you might be one that think beasts are just beasts. And ya might be one that thinks all creature should be on par with humans and therefore sacrosanct. But I am here to tell a different story. Those beasts of the old west are rare and fantastic in their majesty and pride.
Sometimes when a good bull is in the chute, they get all riled up and sometimes tangled up. Good brave men hop right on in and help the bull out. Imagine being in a closet with a ton of linebacker who is pissed – at you! A whole ten minutes can go by just trying to get the bull in a proper spot to have an equal chance with the bull rider. You come to appreciate the animal as an athlete and more, a gladiator. These bulls are better than me and you. They are engineered to be the best at their profession. They come from lines of champions. These guys are a ton of destruction and fantastic creatures with one thought in mind, get this champion rider off my back. I cannot even express my thankfulness of having the opportunity to meet these fantastic beasts.
One day/evening I stood with a bull, before he was to perform, I just breathed his breath and he breathed mine. I believe he weighed over a ton and had thrown the best riders God had. But that night he breathed no fear and no aignst. He had drawn a cowboy named Ty. The ride in front of the bright lights of the rodeo arena was as fine as could be. Ty broke down that ride and was victorious over the beast.
Lord have mercy upon my soul. My beloved beast came up lame. Shit dogs and hell fire, my heart sunk into my very soul and buried me in a death of life unconcealed. Well I ran awkwardly to the beast. I sometimes wish I had gone the other way. The Doc said no chance and we had to put it down. I ran to my car and extracted a bible. Silly, I reckon for the beast had not God, I thought.
But as I held that colt pistol in my hand and fired several shots into that bull’s head I died a bit inside. My prayers and any answer seemed to fade away. I felt an even kinship with a bull few men could ride over a decade of trying. I prayed the wonderful St. Francis of Assisi prayer and I blessed that animal and the cowboys tipped their hat and thanked me. Many a thought and a righteous tribute went that great animal’s way. Cowboys love their competitors and friends, they respect the beast that would break their bones. That great bull was a better man than me.
If you enter unto a playing field and get close to a champion, savor that spot. Or as you are mesmerized by Olympic triumph think about that bull. I am just a cook and later on a preachin man. Hold true this notion, I wish not that I was a good cowboy and a hero to the crowd. I wish I were a bull that stood so proud.