On Cows and Rockets

Yesterday, Ranch Manager Greg asked Sam and me to move some cows for him. Then, I think as a favor, he grabbed my all time favorite ranch horse, Rocket, out of the pasture and tacked a shoe back on him for me. Most any horse will do, but for years, when there was cow work to be done on the ranch, Rocket was always my pick.

Here’s why.


Colorado cows don’t come to the bucket like Texas cows do. At least ours never did. Plus, the ranch is an obstacle course of hills, rivers, timber and bogs.

Sam and I are into the slow and easy method of moving herds, none of this galloping in, whistlin, and a hollerin’ nonsense you sometimes see in the movies.

But Rocket chomps at the bit – literally. Holding the herd, he glares at them and from the saddle you can hear him clacking and grinding his teeth. Rocket is cow horse to the bone.


A grey wall rolled in up ahead and lightning tore into the peaks to the north. So with our friend Deann helping, we began pushing about 50 mama cows and their calves down past our old house, over a couple hills and along the fence line toward the open gate.


As we got there, the cows balled up still not seeing the hole. I noticed a red horned cow that had led the rest of the girls pretty steadily from the lower pasture. She was eyeballing the creek and the wide open space on the other side of me. From the back Sam yelled, “watch that red cow, she’s a lead cow.”

Before I could even smile at the resurgence of Sam’s and my psychic cow working rhythms, Rocket spun, darted into the creek and punched that old, red cow back into the herd.

I didn’t even touch him.

This is why people buy foundation bred Quarter Horses and spend their lives showing them. It is incredibly fun when four brains – one bovine, one equine and two human – consider the same situation at precisely the same moment. It’s even more fun when the equine brain beats the human brain to doing something about it.

That’s why Sam does this.


No point to this post really, other than to say how grateful I am for fast horses, good cowboys and mountains without end.



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