The “Kentucky Colt” has been my main mount for the past 15 years. As I tell in my book Mellinnium Cowboy, he is thus named because he came to me from Kentucky where my daughter was training racehorses. He was bred of a Quarter Horse mare, by Wendy’s Thoroughbred stud.
Born on the West Boulder, he is big, solid, and accustomed to the terrain. He took on a feather-light rein, and has been the Cadillac of cowhorses. But at age 17 I noticed that he was slowing down. I bought a new horse.
I’ve been riding this new horse, Blaze, for two years now, on whatever mission is appropriate for his level of training. His story will be unique because he began as the raunchiest horse I have ever started. Earlier this week I chose the Kentucky Colt to go out after a lame bull; but today I saddled Blaze to bring in some heavies.
As usual, we spread the cows out on their day’s feed of hay, and rode up and down the bunch looking for those that appear close to calving. I’ve done this a hundred times on the Kentucky Colt. Then we spot one, edge her out of the group, and begin serious riding in pushing that now-anxious cow out the gate 100 yards away.
The “Colt” knows the game, and I just sit back in the saddle, careful not to throw him off-balance as he takes the cow out the gate. But this was a new experience for the Blaze, and I was surprised when he broke out with the cow, then stopped and turned with her! He is turning into a cowhorse!
Then one of the cows failed to turn. She just pushed past the horse and returned to the herd. Once, twice – and on the third time I was pulling down my rope.
I’d only roped off this horse once before. He’d been quite spooky when I’d first started riding him, and it was a year before I dared throw a rope off him at all. But last summer we’d had several calves with foot-rot in a big corral; Cody had headed them, Blaze and I had heeled them; Eric had given them a blast of antibiotic. But this was a mature cow.
Blaze put me up for the throw – and I did my part. Blaze held her as she tried to head west, and circled around with me to push her east. He didn’t flinch as I threw the rope from one side of his head to the other as we moved from one side of the cow to the other to keep her aimed out the gate. He pulled into the collar as we towed the cow toward the gate; he stood his ground when the cow charged; he turned off and pulled to the left as we tripped the cow; he stood and watched as I pulled the loop off the cow and coiled up the rope; he busted through snowdrifts to pick up and trail in this small bunch of heavies; he crossed the snow-filled ditch to hold them together; and he sidled me up to open the wire gate into the calving field.
It had been 15 years ago that I had roped the first cow off the Kentucky Colt in this same field accomplishing this same task. The Kentucky Colt is aging.
Just as Eric now steps up to do the bale-slinging that I did alone 15 years ago, the Blaze is stepping up to do the cow-work that the Kentucky Colt did alone 15 years ago.