Column: Lee Pitts: Snaffle Bit Futility
As you all know, I own the perfect cowhorse. He can stop on a dime, spin like a top, and has got an eye like an eagle. The only reason that my cowhorse hasn’t won the cutting horse championship is because my cow-horse is a bull.
“Bud” is a big red bull with a strong herding instinct. He is also a male chauvinist pig. You see, Bud has his own band of cows and he is constantly riding herd over them, holding them all where he can keep an eye on them. I suspect he doesn’t want them messing around with his brother, Spud. If a cow tries to break away from Bud’s group he spins on his heels and herds her back where he wants her. It is really amusing to watch. Occasionally there will be a female that refuses to be controlled by any male. Some of you guys probably know how that is. But generally, Bud keeps a pretty tight rein on his band.
The problem is that Gentleman is no match for Bud. When I rode Gentleman out to bring in the cows Bud thought Gentleman had designs on HIS cows and came out to meet us. Bud is an imposing figure with his snarling face and long horns and he got eyeball to eyeball with Gentleman. My trusty steed gave Bud his best moves but the old bull just faked to the right, feigned to the left and spun around so fast he was throwing gravel. Gentleman just stood there with his legs and his eyes crossed. Bud, the cow-horse, put on a cutting clinic for Gentleman and I that day. After Bud had Gentleman tied up in knots, he gored him for good measure and then he gathered up his cows and headed for the farthest corner of the ranch. That is why when we worked our calves two months later; Gentleman and I decided just to wait for Bud to bring his personal herd into the corral on his schedule.
There are a lot of similarities between my cow-horse Bud and Gentleman. You can’t tie up either one and if you want them to stay in one place you either have to park them in front of a haystack or carry a flake of hay with you at all times. You can’t catch either one but Bud does have some advantages as a working cow-horse. He doesn’t crib and and he doesn’t wear shoes.
I have found only one problem with using a bull as a horse. Once a year it is necessary to separate Bud from his cows and I don’t have the horsepower required for the task. Bud does have a young son in training and he looks promising but it will be a few years before he will be a match for his father.
I toiled hard with Gentleman in hopes that I could impart some knowledge about horsemanship. I may not be the world’s greatest horse trainer but I felt that my hard work had paid off as we approached Bud and his harem. Gentleman took one look at Bud and put on a performance that would have won the Snaffle Bit Futurity. Gentleman stuck his tail in the ground, came to a sliding stop, spun around so swiftly I could hardly keep my seat and headed for home so fast he would have outrun Secretariat.
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