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A short story by Emma Carpenter.

Doing What Comes Naturally - Page 1 of 2

When you’re safe on your couch watching a nature show on television the power and fury of nature can be a beautiful thing to see. Usually, though, when you experience the same things in person, it’s not as pretty or nearly as much fun.

For example, the power and ferocity of a feral stallion is breathtaking on TV, but that’s not the same feeling you get when a hard-running stallion, following his primitive instincts and doing what comes naturally, turns on you in person.

A sorrel horse looks directly into the camera

One evening our friend Rusty called and asked if Bill and I could help gather a pasture of cows and calves near our house. A couple of days later, we met Rusty and several other riders, including his sister-in-law Kris, to gather and ship the cows and their calves. Kris was a good hand with a colt, and since she knew t here was going to be plenty of help that day she decided to leave her older, broke horse at home and ride her young green-broke mare. She was looking forward to getting her mare a little experience in the pasture with a quiet, easy, gather.

My first clue that things might not be all that quiet or easy was when we all rode into the pasture and the other riders took their ropes down. They didn’t build a loop like they were going to rope something, but just held their ropes with one hand while they rode through the pasture.

Right there I got a couple of goose bumps on the back of my neck and started looking around. Loose horses in a pasture are notorious for attacking horses with riders on them, and one of the best things a cowboy usually has with him for self defense in that situation is a rope. If a loose horse attacks, you can often swat them off with the rope. A coiled rope can sting pretty good, and if you think that sounds mean it’s probably because you’ve never been on the receiving end of a thousand-plus pound horse attacking you at a dead run. While no one had mentioned it, those ropes meant there must be loose horses running in the pasture along with the cows.

We found the cows right away. They were toward the south end of the pasture and we were going to drive them north, pretty much through the center of the pasture, then turn them west to where we had set up some panels to make a pen. The cows were strung out in a long, loosely scattered line, and the riders at the back started to group them and head my direction. I was at the front with a small group I had found, quietly holding them until the others caught up.

It was then that I heard some strange noises at the back of the herd. There was a lot of thudding, like hoof beats, except the sound seemed to stay in one place instead of traveling. There were some grunts and squeals, and a couple of other noises that sounded like something getting kicked. I took my eyes off the cows to stand in the stirrups and look to see if I could tell what was happening.

Down the long line of cows I could see Kris and her black mare, Raven. They were being attacked, over and over, by a lunging, biting, kicking, sorrel stallion. They were a long way off but I could make out the stallion charging at Raven’s rump and then Kris’ back and thighs, teeth bared. Then he would strike at them, or turn and kick with both back feet. It didn’t take too much to figure out he was trying to drive the mare off and capture her for his own band of mares, which was out of sight somewhere else in the pasture.

The stallion wasn’t giving up and Kris and Raven were barely escaping serious injury. Finally, Kris had no choice but to move Raven out. She let the mare start out slowly, but the little mare, realizing she was getting away, dove into the snaffle and started to run all out. The two of them stampeded in my direction at breakneck speed, running alongside the long line of cows and calves. The stallion was keeping up with them, staying half a step behind so he could jump onto Raven’s rump to knock her sideways and bite at them over and over again.

As they came closer it seemed to me like Kris and the stallion were gaining speed. I wondered how much longer it could go on before the young mare fell because of the holes or the rocks, or was tripped or knocked down by the stallion.

As Kris approached my horse Hawg and I in a thunder of hooves, the stallion rearing up to bite them in a dead run and tangling his front legs dangerously into Raven’s back ones, she called out to me.

“Emma,” she shouted above the noise, her voice even and calm. “You've got to do something.” That, I knew, was her way of giving me permission to make try my best, which might just make things a whole lot worse.

Continued on page 2......


Doing What Comes Naturally - Page 1

Doing What Comes Naturally - Page 2


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About The Author

Emma Carpenter and her husband Bill are the owners of the website. Emma is the administrator of the website, and when not writing articles for other areas of CowboyWay she enjoys writing the occasional short story.

For many years Bill and Emma maintained a small cow/calf herd while also doing day work for area ranchers in the Kansas Flint Hills. The Carpenters are retired from Carpenter Rodeo Company, a family owned rodeo company that put on rodeos in Kansas and Oklahoma for over 40 years. They still own a small cow/calf herd.


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