Western Fiction posted August 30, 2014

This work has reached the exceptional level
Tumbleweed learns about working with horses

Cattle Drive Part Three

by c_lucas

Cattle Drive
Part Three


"Hold up!" The rancher walked over to the horse. "Once you have him saddled, you'll never get that knot undone." He loosened the loop and freed the horse, who tried to run away. Within seconds, Pearson built his loop, twirled it twice over his head and threw it. The loop sailed over the horse's head and settled around its neck.

The rancher ignored the fighting horse as he wrapped his rope twice around the hitching post and hauled the horse in. He fastened a slip knot around the pole and the horse quit fighting. Soon Pearson had the horse snug against the post. "Get your saddle." Jerry grabbed his saddle and waited.

Pearson picked up the blanket and showed it to the horse. He spoke softly, calming the horse. He motioned for Jerry to bring his saddle over. The rancher threw the saddle on and cinched it up.

Jerry was surprised when his boss kneed the horse in the stomach before he cinched the saddle tighter.

Jerry watched in awe as the horse stood still. He wiped his hands on his pants, staring at the rope burns.

"Mount up and get Consuela's packages, you're running late." Pearson walked into the barn.

Tumbleweed rode into camp three hours late. He faced an unhappy Miguel.

"Tenga cuidado de su caballo, y luego empezar a trabajar en su trabajo." He walked away with the burlap sack in hand, muttering under his breath.

Jerry started scouring the metal cookware and dinnerware. The sand aggravated the rope burns. It hindered his ability to clean with sand and water.

"Un momento," Miguel called out and grabbed Jerry's right wrist.

I didn't see him come back. Jerry relaxed and offered both hands.
"Mio Dios! Ven conmigo." Miguel held Jerry's right wrist and headed to the wagon. He pointed to a nearby log. "Sentarte." Miguel placed a pail of water on the fire and disappeared inside the wagon.

Jerry heard him muttering as he moved things around. He looked at the cowboys glancing at him, while they continued their work.

Miguel returned with his hands full of medical supplies. "Hold out your hands." He pulled on Jerry's right hand.

He's speaking English. Jerry watched as Miguel rolled up his and Jerry's sleeves. He brought the pail of hot water and set it in front of Jerry. Miguel washed the boy's wounds with hot water and carbolic soap, before treating them with carbolic acid. He took thin strips of Aloe Vera leaves, folded them to fit the size of the wounds. Miguel placed a strip on each palm and kept them in place with a clean bandage.

Jerry's face expressed pain from the hot water, but the rest of the treatment had been virtually painless.

Miguel finished his doctoring by fitting heavy duty cotton gloves onto Jerry's hands.

The boy noticed the finger tips were cut off. "Thank you."

Miguel dismissed Jerry with a wave of his hand. "Hurry with the pots and pans. Soon, we'll have hungry cowboys wanting something to eat."

Jerry noticed his hand didn't hurt as bad. In an hour's time, he had cleaned everything. He carried them to the dropped tailgate of the wagon.

Miguel exchanged Jerry's wet gloves with dry ones.

Soon, lunch was served and Jerry was back to his cleaning duties. As he finished up, Jake rode over to him. "When you're done, mount up. You'll be spending the afternoon rootin' out cattle. Don't hold your reins too tight."

"Yes, sir," Jerry answered Jake's back. Durn! He's a rude son of a gun.

When Jake left camp with two other cowboys, Jerry rode with him. They rode to the southernmost point of the Sweet Pea boundary. The two cowboys broke away and rode off. Jake rode off in the other direction.

Jerry took after the foreman. They started beating the bushes. Much to the boy's surprise, his horse started right into working the cattle out of the bushes and bramble. The horse turned so quick that Jerry had to grab the saddle horn to stay in the saddle. It took him awhile to get use to the horse's fast movements as it rooted the cattle onto clear land. He let the horse rest after each trip. Some of the cattle tried to get away, back to the bush, but the horse stopped them.

Two hours passed as the horse and rider got to know each other. Jerry began sensing what his horse was going to do. He forgot all about his foreman. I've got over a hundred cattle gathered. I can do this.

Mr. Pearson showed up with Paint on a halter rope. "Nice sized gather. Are you ready to change horses?" The rancher dismounted and tied the short rope to the Morgan's saddle horn. He took off his Stetson, filled it with water, and offered it to Jerry's mount, which drank it. "You rode your horse without giving him any water breaks. You must keep the welfare of your mount in mind. The last thing you want to be is horseless in this country."

"Yes, sir, I'll remember your advice." Jerry poured water into his hat and offered it to the horse.

"Change horses and we'll meet up with Jake's gather."

Jerry noticed something different about Paint as he switched his gear. "You put new shoes on him."

"Also, I trimmed his hooves and treated his front right hoof. I don't think he will be reluctant to go, now." The rancher put the halter and rope on Jerry's tired mount. "Let's move them out."

Paint joined right in moving the cattle forward. He worked the back of the herd snipping slow moving cattle to hurry along. Jerry remembered to use his coil of rope to help move the cattle. Thirty minutes later they came across Jake's sizable herd and the cattle joined it. Twenty minutes later the two cowboys added their catch. Once they were in the main camp, other cowboys helped separate the cattle by brands.

Miguel gave Jerry the empty burlap bag, ignoring the boy's bandaged hands.

After conferring with Jake for a few minutes, the rancher motioned to Jerry and rode away with the horse Jerry used still on a halter rope lead. The young man hurried after him.

Mr. Pearson chose the locked gate closest to the ranch house. Once they were on the main trail, they rode together. He glanced at Jerry. "When we get home, have Consuela look at your hands. Do you know how you got the rope burns?"

"The horse pulled the rope out of my hands. Miguel doctored them and had me put on dry gloves when mine got wet."

"What was your first mistake?"

Jerry pondered the question. "I don't know."

Mr. Pearson rode in silence for a few moments. "You didn't plan what you wanted to do and you weren't prepared for the horse to run. Plus, you didn't make use of the hitching post. That's enough talking. Next time plan your moves and don't be scared of the horse. Rub Diablo down and feed him a bait of oats before you release him. I want you to use him, tomorrow. Don't forget to tie him to the hitching post before you rub him down. Did you notice the slip knot I used?"

"Yes, but I'm not familiar with it."

"I'll show it to you. We'll leave the halter on and tie it to the hitching post."

Mr. Pearson showed Jerry how to make the knot and which end to pull to free the knot. Jerry caught on with just two tries. The rancher left Jerry to his tasks and led the Morgan and Paint into the barn.

Jerry took care of Diablo and removed the feedbag and the halter gear before releasing him. He walked into the barn and spotted Paint and the Morgan in their stalls with feedbags in place. He removed the feedbags and made sure each horse had hay and water.

Before leaving the barn, Jerry checked Paint's new shoes. When he checked the left front, Paint whinnied and knocked Jerry's hat off and rubbed his hair with his lower face.

When he walked into the kitchen, he gave Consuela the burlap bag. She pointed to the table which held her medical supplies. He noticed his damaged hands did not hurt as much as she doctored them.

When Consuela finished, she set a plate of food on the table. "Eat," She said and put her medical supplies away. "El Jeffe is busy with Lynda. Do not disturb him." She left Jerry alone.

Jerry finished his meal and cleaned up after himself. When he finished, he stared at the door leading to the dining room. Mr. Pearson must be really angry with me over the way I treated Diablo.


Thank you, Susan F. M. T. For your Image, "I've not seen you before?"

Character List:

Jerry Reese aka Tumbleweed. Slender sixteen year old, five-foot-seven inches. Light brown hair, trimmed. Approximately ninety pounds. Hazel eyes.

Jim Pearson, owner of the Sweet Pea Ranch. Five-foot-ten inches, widower. Thirty-three. One hundred and seventy pounds, dark trimmed hair, dark eyes. Dark eyes.

Lynda Ann Pearson- Pearson's daughter, twelve year old-dark haired, blue eyes. Fifty pounds.

Jake Horne-Foreman of the Sweet Pea. Hefty, five-seven, Late forties. One hundred and ninety pounds. Gray/black shoulder length hair. Has worked for the Sweet Pea for over twenty-five years.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

Artwork by Susan F. M. T. at FanArtReview.com

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