Album Note: This describes an actual experience I had working with neighbors straightening out a big cattle mix-up in a remote pasture without any sorting pens. This cowboy and his horse had such an uncanny ability to work with those animals that if I hadn’t seen it, I wouldn’t have believed it.
We were far up in the pastures No road for miles away The dawn sky gray and misted On this day in early May Spring fires-had burned the hedge posts & the steers had crossed the fence So now we had to check and sort Through several hundred head
We rode the heifers’ pasture first To gather up stray steers Some heifers tagged along although we tried to keep ‘em clear We brought the whole bunch thru the gate Where-the steers all should've been And took em to the corner Where the sorting would begin
My heart sank at the prospect This job could take us days There-might be two hundred head here - I thought: there’s just no way Us riders cannot do this - With no holding pens or gates But then our neighbor Ray began To cut out his first stray
Tall and calm on his roan gelding He’d separate a few His steps were slow and measured Man and horse knew what to do They’d guide the steers on down the fence And push the heifers in He was getting all these half-wild yearlings organized again
Our job was just to hold ‘em For if they got away We’d have to start all over - surely try another day We watched their moves so closely In-case one would escape In our stirrups tense and ready if we had to catch a stray
I chased a few wild heifers And my horse he loved the rush We’d guide ‘em in a big U-turn And back into the bunch The roan and Ray kept working It-was a privilege to watch Every second of their patient pace Saved hours of work for us
At the end it seemed a mir’cle When the sorting all was through I felt just plain exhausted But Ray was calm and cool We ran the sorted heifers back And then all headed home And I knew I’d seen true skill that day Of Ray on his tall roan