The Greenbroke Appaloosa - Part 2
I turned my horse, I was riding Ranger that day, and I went up the canyon in search of Mr. Freakout. Max had told me as he left, that the appy more than likely would be hold up in a patch of quakies west of the fence line. Looking back on all this as I write about it, it dawns on me that Max seemed so relaxed about it all, that maybe he’d gone through all this before, with other pack horse trainees, sort of a routine basic training course to teach a young horse that all the noise was just somethin’ to get used to, and nothing was gonna eat him up after all. One thing about Max, he was cool hand Luke, he took everything in stride, never was all hot and bothered or high strung about anything. I sure liked him, he treated me well, and respected me. He was a cowboy thru and thru, I observed everything I could about him, tryin’ to learn from him, cause if anything was “green” on that range, it was me!
Sure enough, I found the appy right where Max figured he’d be. He had his head down, feedin’ hot and heavy on lush grass among the trees there. I approached slowly and quietly, on foot, leading Ranger behind me. He allowed me to get close to him and I finally had that “SHORT” lead rope in my hands. Well, one thing for sure, I was going to lengthin’ that rope a considerable. I took my 30-foot lariat and tied it to the end of his lead rope, so now I had all the rope I needed, and if he freaked out again, he wasn’t getting’ away.
I mounted Ranger and we rode up through the trees and finally topped out up on the big plateau. What a beautiful sight. Tall grass was stirrup high gently waving in the cooling breeze. Wild flowers all over, lots of Indian Paintbrushes. The big bench or plateau stretched away for mile in both directions, north and south. To the south the majestic centennial mountain range rose high above the plateau, a cool refreshing blue color with snowcapped peaks. To the north lay the big Madison River mountain range that skirted the sparkling, crystal clear, trout filled waters of the Madison River. A more beautiful place would be hard to find if it does exist. Small pockets of aspens and timber were scattered here and there on the plateau, but mostly it was cowboy heaven with rolling grassland and contented grazing cattle. I thank God I ever was in a place like that. Like Max said, “It’s a place where a man’s at peace.” And that sure was true, even if he did have freaky Freddy along with him. We made pretty good progress for a while as we ambled along, the appy seemed to finally have figured it all out and trailed along with me and Ranger for about a mile or so. Max would be north of us, up on the tanks, needin’ the supplies we were carrying. We were kinda high steppin’, movin’ along at a brisk walk, I loved ridin’ Ranger, he was a travelin’ son of a gun. He had a lot of thoroughbred in him, long legs and body, and boy could he cover the miles. If I had a lot of territory to cover, he was my all-time favorite mount, and outside circle kind of horse. I bought him some years back from an old cowboy in Benjamin, Utah at a ropin’ down there. $700, and what a bargain. I never regretted that purchase.
On a sudden, the appy bit in the buckin’, tryin’ to throw his load. He striped that 30 some odd foot lead rope out quick as greased pig. I barely had time to get a quick dally before I lost the full length, but at least I still had a hold of him. He was runnin’ and buckin’ in a circle, and I was havin’ to keep turnin’ Ranger in a circle too. I was gatherin’ in a little slack as we went round and round. As the rope got shorter the speed of the circles increased. By the time we got close to each other that horse was going round like a high speed carousel. One thing for sure about bug-eyed Charlie, when he got a bee under his bonnet he was 100% into the deal, no hold barred. I was hopin’ I could finally get him snubbed up tight next to Ranger to stop his infernal merry-go-round, before Ranger and me were so dizzy we fell over, and we were just about there.
Finally, we were tight, the paniers were digging into and gouging my right thigh, real painful, and glad I had my chaps on for some protection. We got lined out straight and Ranger forced him into a straight direction. Eventually he quit buckin’ and stood still. There we stood all sweatin’, and breathin’, hard. My leg was killin’ me, it had really taken a beating. I was as dizzy as a flea in a tornado, and I think the horses might have been tippin’ and leanin’ too, although I was focused on just not falling out of my saddle.
Soon we were underway again and I was hopin’ Freaky Freddy had it all out of his system. We lined out and covered the last mile or so in respectable style. The appy was goin’ like he’d packed all his life. I watched his eye- it seemed relaxed, not rollin’ and showin’ the white. His nostrils weren’t quiverin’ anymore, he carried his head a little lower, watchin’ the ground more, payin’ attention to business.
I was thinkin’ about what I was gonna tell Max and all about the flyin’ rodeo. I was plain mad at the appy. My leg was gonna suffer for a while, I was wondering what all it did, or even if I’d be able to walk in the mornin’ all swoll up and black and blue. One thing for sure, I wanted to tell Max to always have a good long lead rope when workin’ a green horse like that that would have saved us a lot of grief. But by the time we arrived at the tank I’d kinda got rid of my angst. The appy was doin’ good, and at least I’d been able to catch appy and get a lot more of the bugs worked out, shucks, all in all I figured I’d not done half bad, I’d done my job and got us all there in pretty good time. Max was tinkerin’ with the shut off valve on the tank. He casually looked up at me as I tried to get off my horse without showin’ pain.
“Everything go OK?” He asked.
“Good as Blue Berry Pie,” I said. “I think the appy’s gonna make a fine pack horse.”
“Yep, for sure.”
“I could use a slice of that pie right now,” I thought. The rest of the day went fine, fixin’ fence and water tanks.