Due to the lay of the farm, it has always been easier to check on and work the cattle with a horse. When a person wants to round up the cows or tag a calf, they know it, and will go where no machine is able.
A horse is the only practical way of getting the job done. While thinking about this a couple of days ago, it brought back memories of some of the horses I had over the years.
Banana Slug was a big buckskin gelding. We called him Slug for short.
He was a good, all around using horse with only one idiosyncrasy. He had a fear of turkeys.
I can pinpoint the day his phobia started. We were rounding up calves and driving them toward the corral. One calf broke away from the herd and headed toward the timber.
It can be time-consuming to get a lone calf out of the timber, so I spurred up Slug and attempted to beat the calf there. A rose bush was in our path and Slug went to jump it. While sailing over the obstacle, a turkey that had been hiding in the bush, decided to fly out.
Needless to say, this scared Slug no small amount. When he hit the ground, he started bucking to unload me and save himself.
Being caught off guard, it did not take long to throw me off and Slug made a beeline for the safety of the trailer. When I walked the half mile or so back to the truck, Slug was loaded in the trailer and ready to leave.
From that day forward, if he saw a turkey, no matter how far away, he was going to do his best to get me off his back and save himself from the terror of the turkey.
Most places, a turkey phobia would not be a major problem. We, though, have quite a number of wild turkeys so it is not unusual to see one.
As time went by, I got better at riding a bucking horse, but his skills also improved as a bucking horse.
He was a good horse at holding a rope or cutting cattle. He was a pleasure to ride except, once a month or so, when a person least expected it, he would see a turkey and explode.
One day, I was helping a friend bring his cattle in. We were about a mile from the truck and trailer when a flock of turkeys flew up a few hundred yards away.
Slug blew up and started bucking. I decided I was going to ride it out as it was too far to walk back to the trailer. It takes a lot of energy to buck that hard and he had to tire eventually.
A professional bucking horse ride is eight seconds. He must have kept it up for a least a minute.
When he finally quit, my muscles hurt so bad, it would have been better if he had just thrown me on the ground and stepped on me a few times. That was the day I decided, Slug needed a new home.
I thought about selling him to the rodeo because of his bucking ability. Fortunately, a guy stopped by needing a roping horse. He tried him out and we made a deal.
The last I heard; he was running the professional roping circuit. I did not feel it necessary to tell the man about his turkey phobia since there are almost never turkeys in a roping arena.