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Irons in the Fire: I’m in a hurry

Paul Marchant for Progressive Cattleman Published on 24 January 2018

The Matthews boys had gathered their cattle down off of the Camel Rock piece a few days before the real rank weather hit. The next day, Broden called to let us know he’d seen a pair of ours up on the hillside above Emerson Green Spring.

It was several days before we managed to find the time to get up on the hill to look for her. Of course, we were in a hurry because we were late getting started on account of the feeding taking longer than it should have – what with the bad weather and all.

We could only take the trailer a short stretch up the hill, on account of the snow and weather, you know. So we unloaded the horses and rode up to where we thought we might find the wayward bossy. We checked every south-facing hillside and bare patch of ground where we thought she might be but never caught a glimpse of her dang black hide.

I wasn’t too worried about her welfare. There’s feed one cow and calf could find, but I really would have liked to have that calf home to get it on a truck with the rest of the calves when we ship them south.

We gave up the search and rode back down to the trailer. I was still in kind of a hurry – on account of the late start because of the weather, you know. And I needed to get down in time to get to basketball practice. I had already missed one practice a couple of days earlier, and I promised Dave, the head coach of the girl’s J.V. team, I’d be there to help him with drills at the beginning of practice.

We got home and unsaddled the horses, and I jumped in the pickup and headed toward town and practice. Somehow, I wasn’t too late yet, but I was in a hurry.

As I turned the corner and looked out in the 160 where we had a half-dozen horses turned out, I noticed a sorrel gelding packing his hind leg. I’m not a doctor, but I was pretty sure this wasn’t good.

I put my basketball practice plans on hold and scurried over to check out the situation which, as I had supposed, wasn’t good. Somehow, the horse had peeled the hide off of the front of his left rear leg from the fetlock to the hock.

The hide hung there like a grisly piece of hamburger, exposing 6 inches of glistening white bone and a couple of tendons.

Miraculously, the horse moved pretty well, and one tendon was fully intact. So although it was a ghastly sight, I figured I could rescue the leg and, thus, the horse.

By now it was well after 4 o’clock. Practice was out of the question, but I still figured I should haul the horse into Burley and pay the vet a visit. I figured I could do it in the morning, but when I called the clinic, I found out Dr. Morley was headed to Grouse Creek the next morning to bangs vaccinate heifers and wouldn’t be available. He wanted to get a good start, you know, on account of the bad weather and all.

I made arrangements to haul the horse to town and meet him after hours. I’m about 25 miles from town, so I figured by the time I got the trailer with the working lights hooked up, and the horse loaded, I could get there in an hour. So, naturally, I told him I’d be there in 45 minutes.

I raced back to the house, where the trailer was parked, backed up and lowered the gooseneck down onto the ball. I’d had to do some poor man’s electrician work on the trailer wiring, so I was relieved when I saw the clearance lights of the trailer flicker when I plugged the lights in.

I slammed the tailgate shut and jumped in the truck and pulled up onto the road. As I did so, I heard a loud thunk and the unmistakable crunch of Ford tailgate. In my gleeful state, upon discovering my trailer lights were in working order, I failed to latch the lock of the trailer hitch onto the ball and to raise up the trailer jack.

It took me a good 40 minutes to cobble the mess back together and get headed down the road with my pony and his mangled leg. Now I was really in a hurry. Instead of arriving 15 minutes late, as my original white lie had led the waiting doctor to believe, I was about an hour late.

Bless Dr. Morley’s heart. He is a man of a cheery disposition, and this wasn’t his first dog and pony show. Nor was it his first experience with me. I’ve been able to keep the bar of his expectations pretty low. And besides, he knew I’d be running late on account of the bad weather and all …

And, in case you’re wondering, the horse is healing up nicely, though he doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to get back to work.  end mark

Paul Marchant
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