My World Champion Horse

            I may be wrong, I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure I owned the only horse in the world that accomplished this feat. If there are any others that did what Hondo did, they would be few in number, very few, but I really doubt that any other horse ever did what he did.

            It happened on a cold winter night in Idaho Falls, Idaho. My friend, John Hoopes and I went out to Neil Arave’s indoor roping arena to rope steers. John brought his mare Luette, and I brought my gelding Hondo. I always liked roping in an indoor arena in the winter time, it was like having power over the elements, subduing the earth so to speak. Outside it was snowing, cold, frozen snow and ice covering everything, and dark. Inside the arena it was like early spring it was light and fairly warm and the smell of the dirt in the arena was a good earthy smell, I loved it. Sort of instant springtime.

            On one of our runs, I headed the steer, John heeled. John let the steer step out of the heel loop after we stretched him out and I followed the steer to the north end of the arena where I reached down to slip the noose off his horns, while I was still mounted. I had some difficulty so I dismounted and did it. While I was still on the ground coiling my rope up I could hear the next pair of ropers galloping toward us, the header had just thrown his loop when Hondo spooked at the sight of the steer and riders thundering toward him at full speed, he bolted and ran between the header and the steer, toward the south end of the arena.

            The header was throwing his dallies when Hondo hit the rope going full speed in the opposite direction.  In order to avoid a wreck, and it would have been a doozy, I hate to think of all the details, but with a steer charging at full speed to the north and a horse hitting the tightening rope going in the opposite direction at full speed, something was definitely going to give, and maybe everything, it was going to be ugly at best. So, in order to avoid the whopper wreck, the header let go of his dallies quick as a flash and saved the day.

            However,…as Hondo continued on his determined sprint southward, and the steer just as determined northward the trailing lariat, still wrapped around the steers horns, zinged across Hondo’s throat, almost cutting through hair and hide and sort of turned into a giant 30 foot long whip that snapped in the air just as Hondo’s high flying tail met it. As his tail and that snapping zinging rope were introduced to each other at lightning speed, an amazing, advanced Boy Scout knot was tied as nylon and horse hair wove and tangle with each other in a split second. When the slack came tight, and I mean tight, the steer being the smaller of the two animals was jerked off all fours, changing direction from north to south in an explosion of dust and g-forces. It was a miracle to me that Hondo’s tail wasn’t pulled out by the roots. Hondo continued, un-deterred on his southward flight, pulling the steer, with his tail. The steer now acting as a plow, digging a furrow with its horns deep in the dirt, laying upside down with his legs in the air. Hondo didn’t stop plowing till he ran out of room and came to a screeching halt at the end of the arena next to the chute.

            Everybody just sort of stood there trying to believe what they had seen. We all raced down to Hondo and the steer, they weren’t going anywhere though. The steer just lay there blinking, the rope still very tight between him and Hondo. We backed Hondo up a bit to get some slack and loosed the steer, he kind of got up like a wobbly drunk and zigzagged off shaking his sore head to join his friends at the holding pen. I started working on un-tying the amazing Boy Scout knot. Hondo stood patiently, but breathing hard. I couldn’t budge the tangle. John stepped in to try, no luck. The header tried, same result. The heeler tried, no go. It became apparent that something would have to be cut, and I was NOT going to pay for a new nylon lariat. That left Hondo’s tail. When the surgery was complete, Hondo had a cute bobbed tail, half its original length and cut square with zero taper. It was quite the haircut.


       While we were all standing there talking and laughing a little about what had happened, Neil Arave walked out into the arena, I didn’t know he was even there. He talked in a slow drawl. He stood there kind of rubbing his chin and sizing up the whole situation. “That’s the first time I ever seen a horse rope a steer by himself,” he said.  That summed it up. We all had a good chuckle over that sage observation, and I’m sure that story got told to friend and family that night.

            So….as I was sayin’, I’m pretty darn sure that set some kind of record, probably a world record, had established Hondo as a genuine world champion horse in that particular category of horses roping steers by themselves. And come to think about it, that steer most likely set a world record himself, cause he roped a horse, and plowed a dirt field with his own horns upside down to boot and there’s at least five eye witnesses to prove it. And come to think one more time, Hondo is probably the only horse in the world that plowed a dirt field by himself using an upside-down steer for a plow. Better stop right there I suppose and not get too carried away, but I think it really oughta be in The Guinness Book of World Records!

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