The Greenbroke Appaloosa - Part 1
Up on the cow range, we had a four-year-old greenbroke appaloosa in our horse herd, emphasis on the work “green”. One bright sunny mornin’ Max told me to catch the appy and we’d teach him to pack. We had fencing and water tank repairs to do that day, we we’d get ole appy used to haulin’ all the materials for our job. I saddled him up with a stout pair of sawbucks and we filled the paniers with staples, wire, stays, some steel fence posts, tools, and some hardware for fixing a few water tanks. We hefted the paniers one at a time and strapped them to the pack saddle. The appy seemed fine with this new kind of arrangement on his back instead of a man. The boss seemed pleased, so I was too. We mounted our horses, Max leadin’ the appy. The lead rope on the appy’s halter was pretty short I thought, but Max was wantin’ to go so I figured I’d not mention getting’ a longer one out of the tack room. That was the first mistake.
We started up the trail that lead to the big plateau west of us. The four-year-old was kinda wide-eyed, listenin’ to all the hardware bouncin’ around and rattlin’ in the paniers, as we were jostling along up the steep trail. He decided he didn’t like all that noise on his back, so he put the brakes on to figure out what he’d do next. When he stopped, Max lost his hold on that short lead rope and it dropped to the ground. Max kinda cussed and dismounted to pick it up again, as he bent down to get it, the appy back away and the load rattled again. Well now that’s about all the rattlin’ he seemed to care for and decided he was goin’ back to the corral, so he turned downhill draggin’ that short little lead rope out of Max’s reach. As he started to trot back down the trail- that rattlin’ just got louder and more annoying. So the appy figured he’d just run away from all that strange noise and goin’s on. He was free to do so cause Max couldn’t get hold of the rope bein’ as it was TOO SHORT!! Well, now the rattlin’ really got loud, and appy couldn’t get away from it- it just followed wherever he went. FREAK OUT TIME.
The spotted horse took off on a dead run down the hill, past the cabin and corrals and lit out down the canyon, the paniers flappin’ and bangin’ against his ribs makin’ a bigger and bigger racket, an ole spot runnin’ faster and faster tryin’ to get away from it all. All the ruckus disappeared in a cloud of dust and soon it was quiet again, the horse was headed for parts unknown. Max mounted his horse again, and we went back down the hill to the corrals. We stopped there, he seemed to be in no hurry to go after him. We just sat our ponies in the early mornin’ sunshine.
I finally said, “Ya want me to go after him?” “Naw,” he said. “There’s a drift fence down the canyon about two miles, when he gets there, he’ll turn around and come back.” So we just sat there enjoyin’ the peace and quiet. After a while we could hear the faint sound of the rattlin paniers comin’ our way. These paniers were constructed out of plywood covered by rawhide, so it just sorta had the effect of a drum, amplifying the sound. Finally, here comes appy, still running full bore toward us, all foamed up and bug eyed. Everything in the paniers still seemed to be in them, which was amazing to me, I expected we’d have to pick up all that paraphernalia scattered all the way to the drift fence, but it was ridin’ good, still drivin’ the horse bonkers with all the noise. As he was approachin’, I said to Max, “You want me to rope him?” “Naw,” he said again as he sat quiet and relaxed in the saddle, watchin’ the rodeo. “There’s a drift fence about two miles up that a way- he’ll hit that fence purty soon, be played out by then I figure- you ride up that way and catch him, then meet me up on the bench, I’ll start workin’ on the water tank up there, I’ll need them supplies about the time you get there. With that, he turned his pony slowly and trotted back the way we’d come and on up that steep trail to the plateau we’d first headed for.
To Be Continued...