Baxter Black: T. Tommy and Bad News
First, a little about T.Tommy; he likes Corrientes, carries a stock whip and is good help when you need a team ropin’ partner, a good hand on a gather, isn’t bad on a backhoe and is good to his dog.
I’m sure he has had many fine team roping horses. His arena is open to all and he always has some steers around to practice on.
He and I have many things in common, including that our ‘build’ is similar. To put it descriptively, we don’t have a lot of meat on our bones. As we grow older we get stringier, looking more like a praying mantis or an old greyhound than the Michelin Tire man. We can still reach the stirrup but the saddle seat gets harder and harder to sit in, the older we get. We have no natural padding.
At the last branding we were comparing gripes and I showed him my solution to our problem. It involves leather string, a piece of wool fleece and…one of man’s greatest creations since rubber was invented, the coccyx cushion! Yes! It is designed to pad those who have broken their tailbone (which neither of us have.)
He climbed into my saddle and made a short circle. I could see the light in his eyes. A tear ran down his cheek, “It’s so…so…the relief…I can…it makes me…I can sit tall in the saddle again!”
Well, Larry has known T. Tommy longer than I have and so is able to tell more stories about him than I can. Like the time he did a complete cartwheel from the back of his horse and lived to tell about it. T was day-working on a big ranch and they had gathered the cows and calves for a branding. He was in the corral heeling the calves and draggin’ them to the fire.
It was hot and dusty, just another good cowboyin’ day. T was riding one of his better horses, a black one named Prieto (which means “Bad News” in Mexican). It can get crowded in the brandin’ pen with two or three ropers, three muggers, the hired man, the owner’s daughter, the veterinarian and the local banker. Somehow T. Tommy swung back to throw, caught Prieto under the tail which caused him to rear straight up!
T. Tommy hugged Prieto around the neck to keep from falling of over backwards. Prieto balanced precariously, then crashed down on his front feet and fired T. Tommy over his head! Prieto shucked him like an ear of corn! What the trajectory lacked in height was made up for in centrifugal force! He executed a dive, a flip, not unlike the Olympics Pike Position, or maybe a half-pike, or simply catapulting off like a monkey shot out of a cannon! Whump! He was flattened on his back!
Within the hour he turned the color of a fruit basket filled with prunes, plums, blackberries and overripe peaches. The crew was sympathetic and let him sit out the last hour of roping without docking his pay.
He still looks back with agony but makes sure everybody tells the story right and knows that the judges gave him a 54. As for his coccyx cushion, he tried to make his own. I admit it is cheaper, but the child-size pool lifesaver he found at Walmart won’t stay inflated. Everyone has to wait while he blows it up. Of course he still smokes, so it takes a little longer.
Between breaths, I mean.
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