A blog about Cowboy Music, Western Swing and Cowboy Poetry. 2014 WMA Radio DJ/Radio Program of the Year

Posts tagged ‘Cowgirl Sass & Savvy’

Cowgirl Sass & Savey by Julie Carter

Hug your Horseshoer

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy by Julie Carter

With the advance in rural living perpetuated by the invention of the 40-acre ranchette, trail ride associations and urban horse owner playdays, the horseshoers of the world have found themselves in a completely new atmosphere of commerce.

Owning a horse is much like wearing a thong bikini-anyone can one but not everyone should.

Ownership of either should require some sort of an application process.

Farriers, or horseshoers as we regular rural people call them, have come from a long dignified line of blacksmiths.

Cowboys at the ranch usually shoe their own until they either are too old or they become financially sound enough to justify the cost of hiring it done.

Historically, a farrier was a horse doctor.

It is only in the last hundred years that people who shod horses began calling themselves farriers and history is not clear on how that transformation came about.

It is unknown who invented the first horseshoe. Early Asian horsemen used horse “booties” made from leather and plants.

During the first century, the Romans made leather and metal shoes called “hipposandals” and by the sixth and seventh centuries, European horsemen had begun nailing metal shoes to horses’ hooves.

Around 1000 AD, cast bronze horseshoes with nail holes became common in Europe. The 13th and 14th centuries brought the widespread manufacturing of iron horseshoes.

Hot-shoeing, the process of heating the horseshoe before shoeing the horse became common in the 16th century.

All this before the first horseshoe was ever patented.

The first notable patent in the U.S. went to Henry Burden in 1835 for a horsehoe manufacturing machine. Burden’s machine made up to sixty horseshoes per hour.

For those that are new to owning a horse and need the services of a hard working iron-pounder to keep your animal shod, here are some tips of etiquette, or as it were, the things you should never say to a horseshoer.

  • Good Morning. Glad you are here. Can we reschedule? I have a lot going today.
  • Can you bill me? I left my check book in the car.
  • I know I said just a trim, but would you go ahead and shoe them as well?
  • I know it’s been a long day. That’s why I saved the worst one for last.
  • I don’t understand why the shoes didn’t stay on. I had them done four months ago.
  • Does it mean my horses have some sort of deficiency when they chew the paint off your truck like that?
  • Oops, wrong horse.
  • My weanling colt needs a trim. Maybe you could halter break him while you’re here.
  • I’ve got a new horse with feet that are in pretty bad shape. The previous owners said their farrier wouldn’t work on him.
  • I forgot you were coming. I just turned all the horses out.
  • My last farrier couldn’t finish. They gave me your name and number.
  • If he didn’t kick like that, I’d trim him myself.
  • Can we shoe him in the arena? If he rears in the barn, he hits his head.
  • Can you make it here after 6 p.m. or on Sunday? I have to work.
  • Good thing you are slow today or he’d have had shoes on when he kicked your truck.
  • If you will just give each of the dogs a piece of hoof, they will get out from under the horse and quit fighting.
  • Most time when he kicks, he misses.
  • Can you shoe him so that he doesn’t paw?
  • If you get done in 30 minutes you’ll be making $160 an hour.

Keep in mind that a good one is hard to find and harder yet to keep.

Julie can be reached for comment a jcarter@gmail.com.

Buyer Beware – Cowgirl Sass & Savvy by Julie Carter

Cowboys are born with a trading gene. Usually this involves swapping horses, livestock, trailers, saddles or even pocketknives.

Horse-trading requires a special language. When cowboys are involved, the buyer should always be in “beware” mode. For those who were not born down dirt roads, here is an example of a few choice phrases of trading vernacular used mostly in print advertisements.

“Very alert 12-year-old gelding, foundation stock, strong, heavy-muscled, will watch a cow. Friendly nature, quiet in the arena. Must see to appreciate. $27,000 or best offer.”

The literal translation is:

* Alert – he will spook if even so much as bug within five miles moves. Nothing is going to sneak up on him.

* Twelve years old is about the age where horses can no longer be positively aged by their teeth. He could be 34.

* Foundation-bred means he looks exactly like a mustang and was adopted from the BLM in their effort to preserve the world before the wild horses eat it up.

* Strong — means your best antique, foot-long, 40-pound “Made in Mexico” bit won’t hold him.

* Will watch a cow means he will watch the cow go right by.

* Friendly nature – he will pick your gloves out of your back pocket as well as gnaw on everything in the barn and everybody else’s saddle if tied next to another horse.

* Quiet in the box – he will sit there until next Friday if you don’t liberally apply the spurs when you nod for your steer.

* Must see – the seller is hoping to get you to their pen, lock the gate and not let you out until you buy something.

* The price – that’s always a starting place. Actually, the guy would be happy to see $800 and that horse’s backside out his gate.

The trading world has three basic components: sellers, buyers and tire kickers. The variety of descriptive phrases applied to horses would enchant any clever wordsmith.

“Not the prettiest head you ever saw, but it’s full of cow sense.” That means his head looks like a pump jack, is exactly the same length as his back and it would give most horses whiplash to hold it up.

“He has a smooth little cowboy lope that you’ll love.” This is supposed to infer that he can cover the miles smoothly. Nobody mentioned that it takes the first five miles to get him worked up to this cowboy lope and only 15 steps for him to fall back to that teeth-jarring trot.

“This is a horse that will let you do all the thinking.” A good bit of this required thinking will also involve your spurs.

Redneck Runneth Deep: Cowgirl Sass & Savvy by Julie Carter

Whoever started the rumor that rednecks have no style just simply has never spent much time in their presence.

Why just days ago I was buzzing down the highway and as I passed the used junk store a flash of color caught my eye. Lo and behold, there stood the ultimate redneck patio table set. It is the season you know.

It was one of those large wooden cable spools, laid on its side and painted a bright neon  sunshine yellow. It was accompanied by four very yellow plastic chairs and obviously sold as a set.

It is nothing out of the ordinary to see such redneck culture in my world. I’ve come to revere the ingenuity of the lifestyle.

More often than not, frugal is carried to new heights — or lows, depending how you look at it.  A qualified redneck is a regular patron at any and all auctions held within a two hour driving distance of home and where bargains need not have an identifiable label or use. If the price is right, it will have a new home.

One such prime example of redneckhood said that he had somehow become the proud owner of a Godzilla-size box of coffee filters. He has a percolator so does not use coffee filters. Not being wasteful, he utilized the filters as toilet paper. An added benefit was that it often kept company from over-staying their welcome.

Rednecks are born into the definition.

Some years back, I was watching the “Blue Collar Comedy Tour” on television. It is very funny when you hear what is so true told in stories in which you recognize your relatives.

My son was about 10 years old at the time and after a number of Jeff Foxworthy’s  “you might be a redneck” jokes he asked, “Mom, what is a redneck?”

I looked directly at him and said, “You are.”

He immediately laid his hand on his neck and started to ask the logical question. I quickly explained that it didn’t mean the color of his neck exactly. It was more about his closet full of camouflage clothing, the hunting stories he already had stored in his memory and dreams of owning bigger guns, more ATVs and better hunting hounds.

Like the two generations before him, he wears a tag that is supposed to explain how we think and what we like. It seems normal to us and before they came up with the label “redneck,” it had no name, except maybe “hillbilly.”

Not long after this revealing moment in family genealogy, this same boy spent some time grounded from the television except for allowable educational programming.  When I set the terms and conditions for his viewing, I had no idea how difficult it would be for this genetically predisposed redneck child to determine what was educational.

In passing through the room, I had to point out to him that “County Music Television” was not considered educational programming.

“Well okay then. Mom, is “Gunsmoke” educational?”

I knew then that the road to civilization was going to be a tricky, slippery slope. And that very likely, I wasn’t the one with the skills to teach him. After all, I was part of those redneck genetics.

Time to clean the shotgun.

Julie can be reached for comment at jcarternm@gmail.com.

The third toughest roping – Cowgirl Sass & Savvy by Julie Carter

The third toughest roping

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

By Julie Carter 

Fishing stories don’t hold a candle to roping tales. The big one always gets away and there is always some windy explanation about how it happened and what the result would be if it hadn’t.

This past weekend there was a sizable high class roping, and yes, I know, there will be some that will holler “oxymoron” over that description. I will argue that where team roping is concerned, the scales will most generally tip toward the moron than the high class, but I digress.

High dollar prizes and prestigious titles were at stake and the “big boys” of roping were there wearing the names of their corporate sponsors embroidered all over their shirts.

A plethora of dinner plate-sized belt buckles (sometimes referred to as gut shot prevention) were flashing proof of the skill level gathered at this event. These ropers had made the sport not a hobby, but their livelihood, their only interest in life and their passion.

As the roping progressed, so did the usual discussion about the cattle they were roping. The general consensus was that they were dirty, heavy and exceptionally fast. That summation led to remembrances of other ropings and the comparisons.

The pro-boys spoke of how the cattle were at Cheyenne last year, followed by remembrances of Reno, Calgary and even Las Vegas was given a good cussing.
Standing quietly among these roping legends was a cowboy that had come up the hard way in ranch country and now masqueraded as a full time team roper. He commented that indeed this was a “plenty tough roping.” However, he believed it was just his third toughest roping.

“It was branding time and we’d spent some long days gathering a bunch of wild crossbred cattle, mostly Brahma, that had never seen man or horse,” he explained. “We finally got most of them to the pens and they weren’t real friendly.

“We muscled them through the chute to brand them. There was one high-headed heifer that kept pushing her way to the back of the line. We finally got her worked up toward the front but when she got almost to the chute, she started pushing backward as far as she could, then took a run at the head gate and kept on going.”

With the head gate shut firmly around her neck, she tore it loose from the squeeze chute and took off like greased lightning across a six section rocky, rough pasture.

The cowboys scrambled for their horses, pulled their cinches, and in a single motion put their foot in their stirrup and left in hot pursuit with loops ready.

It took a while. A good number of the hands were riding green colts who were not about to get anywhere close to that monster scary thing wearing a head gate on her neck.

That was the toughest roping, he said.

Intrigued, someone asked about the second toughest roping.

“We were working cattle through the chute –shots, branding and fly-ban pour on down their backs. One of the hands poured the chemical on a steer just before the branding iron hit the hide and that long winter hair burst into flames,” he recalled.

The chute operator thought the thing to do was let the steer out. When he did, the steer left like a scalded dog, jumped the fence, and raced through a dry grass pasture, lighting the prairie on fire as he went.

Cowboys ran for their horses only to find their trusty mounts were decidedly reluctant to get within roping distance of a flaming steer running through flaming grass. That was the second toughest roping.

It was a glaring example of the adage “first liar doesn’t stand a chance.” But you have to know those ropers who had never made their living punching cattle had that visual “burned” into their minds. In the quiet hours of the night going down the road, they’d think again about the new measure for “the toughest roping.”

Julie can be reached for comment at jcarternm@gmail.com.

First Love On The Hoof: Cowgirl Sass & Savvy by Julie Carter

He was tall and beautiful with a gentleness that captured my heart. And he loved me like he loved no other. For me, it was this love that defined unconditional love and forever measured the standard.

His name was Ranger. I would stand in the meadow and call his name and he would come to me. With a can of grain and a small rope in my hand, he would let me catch him.

When my dad would try to catch him, he would run off and keep running until dad would have to give up. If Ranger needed caught for anything, I had to do it. I’m sure it was the very foundation of any self-confidence I was to gain in life.  He made me feel very special.

He was a dark sorrel gelding that for whatever reason in his golden years, took a liking to a scrawny little girl. I rode him everywhere on a daily basis.

I thought he was the greatest horse in the world never realizing what cautious care he took of me as I explored my world from his back. He jumped over deadfall logs and irrigation ditches slowly and with such caution I thought I was National Velvet and a Grand Prix qualified rider.

I was five years old and didn’t know what magic that was, but only that he stirred in me a love for horses that has lasted beyond the dust-to-dust of his loss.

I never forgot what Ranger meant to me. Years later I watched my own children form attachments to critters – not always horses, but the concepts were the same and memories just as powerful. It seems that for a space of time in the life of child, an animal comes to raise them in a way no human can.

I was sorting through old photos for my now 18-year-old and soon to graduate son and found evidence of his “first loves” on the hoof.

Little cowboys are pretty big in their minds at a very young age. A three year old will pull his hat down tight, buckle up his chaps and insist that he can rope anything that needs roped. In his mind, if dad can do it, by golly so can he.

His first babysitter horse was named Old Man. The solid, seasoned and aged palomino took care of him with only a little indignation for being relegated to the task. But he never wavered in his job.

I watched that horse avoid wreck after wreck and the little cowboy on his back never knew what could have happened. If horses have wings in Heaven, this one was indeed a guardian angel.

When old age finally took the old guy it was a blessing for him, but a sad day for the cowboys, big and little. Now, all these years later, he holds that place in a young man’s heart that none other will ever have. First loves are just that. Always first.

Julie can be reached for comment at jcarternm@gmail.com

Shakin’ Out The Ropes: Cowgirl Sass and Savyy by Julie Carter

Spring winds bring blowing dirt, maybe a rain cloud and sure enough, the ropers start coming out of the woodwork in droves.

Blowing off the stink of winter is no cheap feat for a roper. He is sure to find that he needs new ropes, his trailer needs a new tire or two and of course, the horses need shod and his entry fee savings didn’t quite grow like he’d planned for it to.

Forcing him to do a little scratchin’ on paper, he’ll run a quick tally for an estimate of what the roping and rodeo season ahead is going to cost him. What does it all mean to him? Absolutely nothing.

Serious discussion around the watering hole has the cowboy making rash statements like “the price of diesel may keep me home a little more this summer.” What he really means is “I may not be able to pay the rent, but I’m not missing a roping!”

Taking an extra job to try help with his personal budget deficit comes up in conversation from time to time.  The suggestion of becoming a part time bartender brought a round of applause from fellow ropers followed immediately by requests for confirmed discounts from “friends” who he had not yet met.

If someone with a bookkeeping background were to put the roper’s financials on paper, it would read something like “Income and Expense Statement, Profit Center: Competition Roping.”

The expense column would have a long list of “must haves” that total to a shocking number. The cowboy will qualify the sum with “estimate only – exact records are not required.”

It is hard to tell which comes first, the rope, the horse or the rig. They are listed here in no particular order of importance.


Top notch #1 winning rope horse $10,000

Back-up practice horse $9,500

Three-horse slant aluminum trailer $30,000

Two-seater truck to pull trailer $40,000

Seasonal Fuel Costs –Not to be discussed

Ten Corriente steers for practice $5,000

Worthless Blue Heeler dog named Radar $200

Arena for practicing and socializing $5,000

Hydraulic chute (cheaper than a divorce) $3,500

Roping school with National Finals winner $700

Different roping school with a good teacher $700

Entry fees (to date) $900

Equipment upgrade:

  • New saddle $1,200
  • EXTREME go and slow bit, $125
  • Polyethylene urethane no-pressure saddle pad, $125
  • A  box of “no miss” ropes $250
  • “Never get’em hurt” horse leg-protection  $125

Image enhancement:

  • Space-age biothane tie down $20
  • Straw hat (came with full-size George Strait picture) $70
  • Headstall with turquoise $200

Total estimated expense before fuel $107,615


First in the average at Podunk Arena, Anywhere, USA

3:14 p.m., Sunday, April 1, 2012  $228

Total income (exact figure)         $228

In spite of the math, every rodeo ground in America continues to be covered over in trucks, trailers, hats, and swinging ropes throughout the spring, summer, fall and well into winter. It’s a man’s sport, a woman’s sport and a family sport. It appeals to doctors, lawyers, a few Indian chiefs and every now and then, even a genuine cowboy.

If you happen to be looking for a way to put a little disposable income into circulation, buy a rope. The rest will just come naturally.

Julie can be reached for comment at jcarternm@gmail.com

Leaping into matrimony: Cowgirl Sass & Savvy by Julie Carter

It comes around every fourth year –a February 29th on the calendar making it a leap year.

Somewhere in folklore, leap year was made into a tradition whereby it is allowable for women to propose marriage to men. Over the centuries, different countries adopted various versions of the tradition and even some penalties if the marriage proposal was refused.

To soften the blow to the pursuing female, a man denying her offer may have to give her a kiss, money or even a “silk gown”. In Denmark, refusal must be compensated by a dozen pair of gloves.

In Greece, marriage in a leap year is considered unlucky and 20 percent of the engaged couples will intentionally avoid getting married in a leap year.

A victim of the Sadie Hawkins girl-catches-guy wedding plan, Sam decided to make it a party. When a wedding happens in ranch country, it’s a big deal. Not everybody wants to go to town to get “hitched.”

Sam selected one of his favorite spots on the ranch and his buddy Dave volunteered to slow roast a hog. The preacher was lined up and a keg of beer ordered. Yep, that should do it, Sam thought.

Mary Margaret had a few ideas of her own about how she thought the wedding should go. She bought the big white dress and lined up her bridesmaids to be dressed in pastels.

There was a slight hitch as one of the bridesmaids ordered her dress in a size smaller than actually required thinking her new diet would work. Plan B was to line up a cousin who was the right size.

In the meantime, Dave butchered a hog, cut it up, seasoned and wrapped it. He dug the fire pit, lined the bottom with wood and went on to his other appointed wedding duties. He’d also been appointed shotgun bearer to follow the bride down the aisle and that required the ol’ double-barrel to be shined up.

Sam, indulging his bride in her desires, agreed to provide the music. The boom box was tested and required only an occasional slap on the side to keep it playing. Waylon and Willie would do fine.

Helpful neighbors had been designated to usher the guests away from the keg to the seating area and to keep the dogs quiet during the ceremony.

Sam was not as totally committed to this project as the bride would have liked, and in an effort to get him involved, she decided they should each write their own vows.

Her vows were very lovely prose, mentioning hearts, flowers, lifelong commitment, a steady partner and love eternal. When his were finally, reluctantly, presented for inspection, she was somewhat taken aback.

The only thing he had planned on saying was “I do. Let’s party.”

Vows said and sighs emitted, the wedding crowd moved down the hill to the patio to celebrate. The pig was unearthed only to discover the fire hadn’t been lit under it. However, this brought only some good-natured funnin’ at Dave, who apparently had lost his train of thought the night before while polishing the shotgun and sampling the keg.

The boom box quit working, and no amount of coaxing could revive it. As it turned out, the music wasn’t any more necessary to a good party than was the shotgun or the roast pig. The properly sampled beer fulfilled Dave’s wedding vow of “let’s party.”

You can’t say that cowboys don’t do things with style and grace. It simply depends on your definition of both.

Julie can be reached for comment at jcarternm@gmail.com

Hearts and kisses! Cowgirl Sass & Savvy by Julie Carter

 Saddle up boys, here it comes again. Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. It’s the day the entire world is painted with red and pink hearts and accented with roses and chocolate.

 Whether this ever-looming V-day is a ploy to stimulate the economy at an otherwise sluggish time of year or an actual holiday to honor the long forgotten patron saint of love, it most definitely puts the pressure on the couples of the world.

 I asked one old cowboy what he thought about Valentine’s Day. His reply was well-thought-out honesty. “Not much. I don’t think about it at all. You don’t want to get that started– birthdays, Valentine’s and all those holidays. If you never start paying attention to them, then she never expects it.”

 Saint Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome when Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers so he outlawed marriage for young men that were military potentials.

 Valentine defied Claudius and continued to perform secret marriages for young lovers.  When he was caught, Claudius ordered him put to death.

 The legend says that Valentine actually sent the first “valentine” greeting himself. While in prison awaiting his execution, he fell in love with a young girl who visited him every day. Before his death, he wrote a letter that he signed “From your Valentine.”

 There will be some “romantic” gestures made by those residing at the end of dirt roads where the moon kisses the stars while the howl of a lone coyote breaks the silence of night.

 Not likely to be wine and roses, however, a cowboy on a Valentine’s Day date will offer a romantic late night walk through the frosty pastures for a “just once more” check of the cows. After all, it is calving season.

 I got a Valentine card one time that was written in Spanish because that was what was left at the store in town. It said something about my corazón and forever. My cowboy ate the chocolates on the way back to the ranch and, with no apology, told me he knew I was on a diet and he sure didn’t want be responsible for any failure.

A veteran ranch wife who is still waiting for her cowboy to grow up, phoned me and the topic of Valentine’s Day came up. I ventured to ask if she had received a gift from her love of 35 years.

“Well, he did ask if I wanted something,” she said. “But after my Christmas gift, I was afraid to let him think it was time for another gift.”

 I asked the obvious, “What did you get for Christmas?” 

 “He brought me a cat from the pound.”

 “Did you ask for a cat or even want a cat?”

 “No to both. This gift just fit his budget. It was free.”

 It’s those tender moments of adoring love that make a gal think seriously about returning the sentimental thought with something equally as endearing as a well-timed “Well, kiss my corazón …. dear!” 

 Julie can be reached for comment at jcarternm@gmail.com

This old glove: Cowgirl Sass & Savvy by Julie Carter

An old leather glove. If it could talk, it might tell you a story of a time when men put on gloves as often as they put on their hat.

 For some, it was part of a morning ritual, first thing. And once on, they didn’t come off, even for the portrait of him and his bride. 

The antiquity of gloves goes back to prehistoric times when they were worn by cavemen to protect their hands and took the form of bags, a primitive type of mitten. 

In England after the Norman Conquest, royalty and dignitaries wore gloves as a badge of distinction. The glove became a token when it was thrown to the ground at the feet of the adversary as a challenge of integrity and an invitation to duel.

It was in the 12th century that gloves became part of fashionable dress. During the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, no well-dressed woman would appear in public without them. 

Working folk have spent a small fortune in gloves in a lifetime.  Heavy leather gloves — mule skin or something tough, elk or deerskin gloves for comfort and dress, lined gloves for warmth, cotton gloves to work in the summertime. 

Any kind of glove will wear out when working. The favorites, or maybe just the most necessary at the time, will receive repair with something as functional as duct tape. 

Whether tucked in a back pocket for safekeeping, laid on the dash of the pickup or in the pocket in the door, a coat pocket, wherever –there is an unwritten law that the good ones will get lost first, at least one of them. 

Wearing a pair of mismatched gloves only means there is another pair just like them somewhere, usually to be found when you aren’t looking. They can be buried in corral dirt, under the seat of the pickup, or tucked in fence wire behind a post where you last needed to take them off for a project. 

In the early 1800s, a French Master Glover began making gloves in sizes and a consistent shape establishing a reliable fit. I’m not sure I ever owned a pair that fit right but part of wearing gloves is learning to function with them, even awkwardly. 

Memories of the gloves worn by fathers and grandfathers can be found in the recesses of most of our minds. Those special times as a child when we would proudly slip on those big old worn out gloves and think it made us all grown up and ready to work by their side. 

With the advent of the ball point pen, the glove became not just hand protection, but a notepad for recording cattle counts, dates to remember and a place to do a little math to figure feed prices or cattle weights. 

Ranch records are sometimes written on a leather glove. In an effort to dignify his bookkeeping practices, one old timer would drop his gloves in a briefcase when he was headed to the accountants. 

Today gloves are a specialty item for work and recreation – hundreds of different kinds for the doctor, nurse, hunter, skier, golfer, roper and more. 

And yet, nothing is more sentimental than that old worn leather glove that held a set of reins, drove a tractor over the country side, or built the fences that stand yet today on homesteads across the country. 

We can look at an old glove and know that in every crease, every worn out spot, every dark stain, there is a story to be recalled. 

Julie can be reached for comment at jcarternm@gmail.com.


Ghost Tale From The Camp Fire – Cowgirl Sass & Savvy by Julie Carter

Phantom horse, phantom rider – the stuff ghost stories are made of.

In J. Frank Dobie’s “Coronado’s Children.,” a tale from cow camp relates the story of a cowboy murdered along the Loma Escondida road. Carrying gold coins in his saddle bags to buy a herd of cattle, he rode out on his cream-colored dun stallion with the black stripe down his back –what the Mexicans called a bayo coyote.

After his second night out, he rose, saddled the lineback dun and went to receive the herd he was purchasing.

A couple hours later, the sheriff came along on his way to inspect the herd for stray brands. He found both the cowboy and his horse dead. The saddle bags were gone.

The sheriff gathered a posse, followed the tracks and caught up with the murderers late in the afternoon. Although both the murderers readily admitted to the killing the cowboy, nothing could persuade them to divulge where they had hidden the saddle bags full of gold coins. They were hung for their crime and with that, carried the secret to their graves.

Over the years, many tried unsuccessfully to find the hidden treasure. There was only a short stretch of road between where the murder took place and where the criminals were overtaken, but nothing was found.

Years later, another cowboy was sent from a cow camp to the headquarters of the ranch to fetch coffee. He left camp after dark and was trotting along the same road where the murder had happened, when up ahead he spotted two figures in the moonlight.

Coming closer, the cowboy could see what he believed to be a man and a horse. The man mounted the horse and loped off. The curious cowboy set out to catch up, thinking it would be nice to have company on his night ride.

As he narrowed the distance between himself and the rider ahead, he could see that the horse was a lineback dun. He continued following the rider and the dun up a steep brush-covered hill.

At the top, the rider got a burst of speed and as he was passing by a dead mesquite tree, he totally disappeared. The cowboy thought the rider had simply slipped away into the brush in the dark of night. Without more thought, he continued his coffee-fetching errand.

He reached the ranch, twisted the coffee up in one end of a flour sack and began his return to cow camp. There at the same place as before,  he again saw the rider on the dun horse.

Putting a spur to his side, he kicked his horse off into a high lope with every intention of catching up with the mysterious rider. However, he never could quite close the gap between them,  even though the moonlight kept them silhouetted against the night.

Once again as before, the rider and bayo coyote stallion seemed to disappear into that same mesquite tree.

The cowboy dismounted, tied his horse and began to carefully explore the ground surrounding the tree. He could find no tracks.

Perplexed, he leaned on the trunk and felt a long, deep gash that appeared to be a very old axe mark. Stumbling over a large rock, he saw something gleaming on the ground. Striking a match to see in the dark, he picked up the $20 gold piece.

Familiar with the lost treasure story, he knew he’d likely found the spot where the fabled gold had been hidden. Turning over more rocks, he found the partially rotted saddle bags.

The cowboy returned to the cow camp, presented the coffee to the cocinero, all the while keeping the other end of his flour sack carefully closed.

Over the years, people would still come to hunt for the treasure, but now they hunted on the ranch belonging to the coffee-fetching cowboy. No one has ever again reported seeing the rider on the dun horse.

The tradition of campfire stories carries a tone of gospel truth to them and belief is fed more than it is refuted.

Julie can be reached for comment at jcarternm@gmail.com.

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