Baxter Black: Barry and Otis
Readers send me stories and ideas for the column. Sometimes they are so good they deserve retellin’ in their own words. This is Barry’s tale about a “real cowboy,” named Otis.
Otis wore his long-sleeved shirt and long-handled underwear winter and summer. It worked like a thermos, he claimed; cold in the summer and warm in the winter. His old Blanchard spurs left tracks in the dirt when he walked because the heels were so wore down on his boots.
Otis showed up at Barry’s place one morning to help him gather a cow and calf that had been missed. Otis is a real ol’ timer, a typical Arizona no-nonsense cowboy. “Is that a new horse?” asked Barry.
“You bet,” said Otis, “Best horse on the ranch, goes back on a direct line to Man O’ War, Yellow Jacket and Hancock. Why, Cody Ohl’s cousin-in-law almost bought him for Cody to ride at the Finals!” Barry was impressed.
They set out on a high trot, however, about the third stride Barry said he witnessed one of the most interesting bronc rides he’d ever seen! Otis went up and down for about 4 jumps and then the horse took off for the walnut grove doing 160 mph! WHAM! BAM! SLAM! Barry said he’d never seen anyone on horse peel so much bark off of so many trees!
Otis was hangin’ in there despite the fat lip, torn clothes and blood dripping from assorted contusions, abrasions and lacerations. He looked like he’d spent fifteen minutes in a clothes dryer with a bear and fifty horse shoes! His horse was just getting warmed up as he squealed and bucked so high Barry could see the frogs in his feet! They came down in a heap driving Otis’s head down in the dirt adding more “crash marks” to his old Stetson leaving it looking like something a Hippopotamus regurgitated!
After reviving, recovering, re-standing and re-mounting, both cowboys resumed their search and found the missing pair. Otis immediately threw and caught the calf, and half-hitched the rope to the saddle horn. Then using the tried and true vaquero technique (although most tie the rein to the rope), he tied his left split rein around his leg as he dismounted to flank the calf. The calf did not cooperate, having never seen a human up this close, he bawled and kicked. The mama cow was incensed and charged Otis! This “best horse on the ranch” saw a wreck coming and wheeled for home! He was accompanied by the calf, still tied to the horn, and Otis still tied to the rein!
Barry remarked he’d never seen such a strong split rein, as Otis, the horse and the calf careened through the junipers and banged over the rocks! Barry finally caught up with this cowboy version of the potato sack race, and got’em stopped. whereupon, the cow laid a track up his back as he was cutting the rope and the rein. True to his cowboy nature, when he regained consciousness, Otis dressed Barry down for cutting his favorite rope and ruining his brand new split rein.
EPILOGUE: Barry said the last time he saw the “best horse on the ranch” was at the National High School Rodeo Finals in Rock Springs, WY. They’d named him Otis.