UTILIZING THE SERVICES OF A COW CAT By Steve Moreland, January 22, 2019

Things that come up in the daily operation of a ranch.
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UTILIZING THE SERVICES OF A COW CAT By Steve Moreland, January 22, 2019

Post by Soapweed » Tue Jan 22, 2019 9:30 pm

By Steve Moreland, January 22, 2019

A fun event to attend each year is Jake Clark’s Mule Days in Ralston, Wyoming. It is a several day extravaganza of mule-related events culminating with an auction of some of the premier saddle mules to be found anywhere. The sale on the last day is always the third Sunday each June, which happens to also be Father’s Day.

My wife Carol and I have attended Jake Clark’s Mule Days three times through the years, and have very much enjoyed the activities each time. The middle year that we went was 2007. That year we thought we were in the market to buy a mule, so paid more attention than normal. On the day when all mules are required to go through a trail class, we diligently watched each mule go through their paces, and took notes.

Jake Clark has a pretty discerning eye when appraising mules, and if they aren’t fairly gentle with eye appeal, they don’t qualify to sell at his auction. Needless to say, the top quality mules that sell at this sale tend to bring quite a lot of money. On this day we were “loaded for bear” so to speak, but waited to bid until near the end of the sale. By then the early euphoria had worn off a bit, and the ring-men were no longer quite as exuberant and apt to pull bids from thin air.

Hip number 111 came into the ring. “Willy” was a tall slim-built chestnut horse mule, six years old, 15.1 hands high, 900 pounds, and was consigned by Kevin Kaller from Iowa. Willy was one that we had written down as a potential. The footnotes at the bottom of the picture in the catalog read: “Willy has a lot of eye appeal. He is predominantly used to hunt coon, squirrel, and hogs, and for trail riding. We use him to lead dogs, and he has worked around cattle. He has been ridden in Western pleasure and trail classes. In 2006, he won second place in Jake Clark’s Mule Days saddle mule race.” The bidding stalled out at $2600. I bid once, and instantly owned a $2700 mule.

We had driven out in a car. I think it was the former owner from Iowa who I hired to deliver the mule as far as Kadoka, South Dakota. Our son Brock ended up driving to Kadoka to pick up the new mule.

Willy had sort of a Dr. Jekyll-Mr. Hyde type of personality. Some days he worked very nicely, and then he would get a bee in his bonnet and behave badly. He’d been raced enough that it messed with his mind. Even though there is an old wives’ tale about changing a horse’s name bringing bad luck, I figured since Willy was technically only half horse, there would only be half a dose of bad luck to deal with. We soon started calling Willy by his new name of Tinactin (half-fast actin’ Tinactin).

Tinactin had been on our ranch about a week, and was the only mount that was in the corral to ride. I was cutting it close for time, but had decided to haul ten weigh-up cows to the Martin sale. My sale barn strategy is to do ranch work in the mornings, then load selling cows, and get to the auction just before the sale gets over. By then it is noon, and it’s always fun to eat at the sale barn café. Time was getting away from me, and I needed to gather the ten cows out of the first pasture north, get them into the corral, load them on the 24-foot trailer, and make pretty good time to Martin or the sale would be over.

I caught and saddled Tinactin, and loped out to get the cows. They started for the corrals, but when going through some tall weeds, they kind of “smelled a rat,” deciding that what was good for the cowboy might not be good for the cow. There is an old saying, “A mule is just as good as a horse—until you need a horse.” I was trying hard to keep the mule positioned just right, but a mule can be a mule. He seemed to have “rubber-neck syndrome,” and I was really wishing I’d taken time to get in the horses so I could be riding a reliable mount.

The cows were trying to break back, and it was all I could do to hold them. The cause looked about to be lost. Just when the cloud was the darkest, out came a silver lining, in the form of a wild barn cat. The cat came blundering through the weeds, and the cows were instantly attracted to a new diversion. They chased the cat, and the feline made a rapid departure for the safety of the barn. It dashed through the weeds right through the corral gate, with the cows in hot pursuit. Don’t think for a minute that I wasn’t right behind them to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity. I shut the gate, loaded the cows, unsaddled Tinactin, and made it to the sale on time. Some folks brag about their cow dogs, but on that day I was bursting with pride about my “cow cat.”

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Re: UTILIZING THE SERVICES OF A COW CAT By Steve Moreland, January 22, 2019

Post by Big Muddy rancher » Tue Jan 22, 2019 10:00 pm

Sometime it isn't pretty but if it works do it.. Besides enough time has passed you can safely brag about your cat. :D :D :cowboy:
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Re: UTILIZING THE SERVICES OF A COW CAT By Steve Moreland, January 22, 2019

Post by Faster horses » Tue Jan 22, 2019 10:43 pm

That was a great story, Soap. Thanks for telling it.
There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn't true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.

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