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admiring puncher had been a hand- given in some mysterious way, and at some plaited bridle, made of the finest once the whole band was on the keen of leather strings, decorated with run, headed for the shelter of the fancy horsehair knots and tassels, cedars. Into these they dived deep, with long, slender, plaited-horsehair breaking up into single units like reins, far better suited for use on some hunted deer, but with far more skill Wild West day in town than for com- and cunning than any other wild animon range-riding. Not far from the mal known to man. The only possible saddle they found the reins, broken at way to find them was by trailing - a the bit-chains when the horse had slow and generally unsuccessful procstepped upon them as they dragged ess; for long before their pursuers came under his forefeet. To rid himself of in sight the keen ears of the horses the fancy bridle, which had no throatheard them and the band was off, latch, would be comparatively easy. slipping silently through the thickets,
'Once a wild one, always a wild one' dodging like coyotes chased by hounds. is a well-known saying on the Western When water was to be found in the ranges, and a horse captured from a cedars their capture was almost out of band of wild horses can never be the question, for then they never left trusted to stay on a strange range. the sheltering trees. When watering Foot-loose, no matter how weary, he places became scarce and the horses at once orients himself and with almost were obliged to go to the tanks, reserunerring directness makes his way voirs, springs, and streams where the straight back to the range where he range cattle drank, their capture beknows he will find his former com- came more possible. Here again the panions. Once with them, he seems wild horses showed their almost uninspired with a far keener sense of canny ability to remain free, for when danger, and with far greater ability to forced to come out into the open to escape from those hated riders who drink they for the most part watered would again enslave him, than he had at night. before he knew the feeling of a hack It was not unusual for the cowboys amore about his nose or the pressure of to watch such watering-places on cinches on his ribs.
bright moonlight nights. And when the horses had drunk their fill it was great sport to follow up the band and try to
rope one or two selected animals as There were at that time on the they made their way up the trail, fairly range probably ten thousand practi- water-logged. With this handicap a cally worthless range-horses — 'broom- good lively horse had rather the best of tails' they were called. Many were the chase and occasionally the purbranded, many not, mavericks for any- suer was able to lie alongside of a one who could capture and brand them. horse after a five- or six-mile chase and
The range was a 'cedar-brake' rope him. country with numerous large areas of Then the rider's troubles began, for close-growing cedars, interspersed with handling a wild horse at night is no open grassy spots. Whenever a band of easy matter. The saddle horse is wild horses grazed on these openings nearly always tired and winded from one of them kept watch and ward for the long chase, and with the rope tied mounted men. At the first glimpse of to the saddle horn he is quite as likely a man on horseback the alarm was to be thrown, if caught with his feet off the ground, as the wild horse is; keep the animal from choking to death. for of all lively things at the end of a Not infrequently, when the rope is forty-foot rope an unbroken range loosened he is dead, and the cowboy horse is about the liveliest. If the rides back to camp disgusted at his rider is in luck, he finally wears the luck and at the 'waste of good horsecaptive out and chokes him down. flesh'- meaning his own saddle horse. But the instant the wild horse hits the Naturally all that can be done at ground the rider, trusting his mount to night is to leave the wild horse where hold the advantage by a rope tied hard he lies; but the cowboy comes back at and fast to the horn, must leap like a the first crack of day driving a burro, flash from the saddle. The hogging- or sometimes several of these patient string in his mouth, he pulls the long phlegmatic animals. Around the burtail of the horse through between the ro's neck there is a strong leather animal's hind legs, and digs his knees strap four inches wide, and attached deep in the backbone just in front of to it a chain about two feet long with the hips, the long tail clenched taut in a swivel in the middle. At the other his hands. Man and horse fight it cut end is another strap. Leading the in the moonlight. If the man's strength burro, trained for such work, alongside holds out, and the tail-hold does n't the prostrate horse, the cowboy pulls break, the horse cannot get on his the head of the burro down until the feet, but he can do some very scientific strap can be worked around the neck struggling and fighting in his endeavors of the captive and buckled closely beto get up. His forefeet fan the air like hind his head. Then the hogging-rope flails, and if the saddle horse lets up is loosened and the captive is allowed in the least on the rope, the captive's to get on his feet. head swings back and forth, at times Then follow some very exciting perstriking the man on the legs, hard formances by the 'necked-up' couple. enough, in one recorded instance, to Naturally the horse tries his best to break a bone. If the saddle horse does break loose and, failing that, to carry his bit and holds the rope taut as an off with him his unwelcome friend. iron rod, the matter is settled much Here the stubborn nature of the donsooner, for that choking slip-noose, bit- key helps mightily, for he will sit back ing deep into the captive's neck just on that strap and dig his forefeet into behind the jawbones, cuts off his wind the ground, and sooner or later the and he gives up and stretches out captive will give it up as a bad job and as if dead.
settle down to a 'watchful-waiting' Then some lightning work must be game. If the burro moves an inch the done in 'hog-tying' the prostrate horse is ready to accompany him, but horse. On one end of the six-foot hog- always toward the open range where ging-rope is a running noose. This is his band has long since been swallowed slipped over the two forefeet, the bight up in the cedars. Sometimes the two of the rope is thrown over the upper start off at a smart run. As long as they hind foot above the hoof, and the go toward the ranch where the burro three feet are thus pulled together in is kept, and which he recognizes as a close bunch and fastened securely home, things go nicely; but let the with the rest of the hogging-rope. direction change, the burro spreads his Thus tied the animal is helpless. Some forelegs wide, digs those small round equally quick movements must follow feet deep into the soil, and though to get slack from the saddle rope and dragged fifty feet or more, leaving
great scars on the prairie as if from unusual size and beauty. The ordinary a breaking-plough, he stubbornly per- ones are not worth the horseflesh spent sists, and eventually the horse gives upon them. up and awaits further developments.
With a well-trained burro necked to his captive the cowboy may ride back It took Steeldust a comparatively to the ranch and leave the two to fight short time to find his way back to his it out, feeling sure that the odd couple old band. Shy and untrammeled as will make their way down the range they are, wild horses invariably run on to the watering-place some time or some particular part of the range and, other, generally by sunset that day. knowing this, an animal separated By the time the burro has delivered his from them soon finds them again. charge at the home ranch the horse is The first time Steeldust was sighted fairly tamed. His neck has been on the range after his escape, four men, stretched and rasped and is sore with mounted on their best horses, took the pulling and hauling, and he is per- turns in running the band. Each rider, fectly willing to follow meekly at the in turn, endeavored to work the bunch side of his partner, who steers him into in a great circle, eventually swinging the corral, where with a little maneu- them back close to where another man vring the boys slip a hackamore over sitting on a hill followed their progress his head and make it fast, unbuckle the by the dust arising from their hurrying strap from his neck, and leave him to feet, and fell in after the band, relieving think matters over during the long his predecessor's tired horse. In the night.
dusk of the evening, after twelve conHungry and sore as he is from nose secutive hours' hard running, the band, to tail, handling him the next morning leg-weary and only able to strike a is not a difficult job. An hour's work slow trot, were worked by two of the with a keen whip and some sharp jerks men up to the entrance to a large corral on the hackamore rope, and he is of cedar posts, the men's horses even trained to lead like a dog, a trick he more tired than the wild ones. Susnever forgets so long as he lives. The picious to the last degree, the leaders rest of his education comes slowly, but would not enter, although they could eventually he is turned over to the see that the corral was empty. Realizremuda sufficiently broken to stand ing that it was their last chance, the for mounting with reasonable quiet, to men crowded the animals, hoping to be saddled, and bridled, and 'hobbled force one or two to enter and draw the out’ at night. His complete education others after them. as a cow pony comes gradually, taking Suddenly a single mare at one side of generally two full seasons of hard the band, crowded too closely by one round-up work.
of the riders, broke back and started The worst of this capturing process for the open range. Instantly she was is that about three out of four horses so followed by another and still another tied down and left overnight are dead until inside of two minutes the whole the next morning, having worn them- band — about forty grown horses — selves out thrashing the ground with was streaming past, outward bound. their heads and fighting to get their In three minutes the entire band was feet loose. With horses worth only a lost in the gloom and the men, tired, dollar or two each, this plan is prac- cross, and disgusted, reset their sadtical only in the case of animals of dles on their worn-out horses and
slowly rode the ten miles to their camp. which they fastened a long rope. This
For the next two years Steeldust led led to a secure hiding-place formed of a lively and probably enjoyable life, for cedar boughs, a rustic bower in which in spite of every trap set for his cap- one of the men hid and waited pature he was still free. Not a saddle tiently for the band to come to water. horse on the range was able to ‘lay Just at dusk the horses came trailing alongside of him'in a fair chase. in, but Steeldust was not with them.
All summer long the schoolmarm The rest went into the corral with little hoped for the return of her horse, and hesitation; licked the salt eagerly; the one great ambition of every puncher drank their fill; then slowly trailed off on that range was to capture him and on the range into the darkness. The deliver him safely to his mistress. man rode back to the camp he had
‘That there gray hoss has cost the made, a mile or two away, hobbled his cow men of this range more ’n a thou- pony out to graze, cooked and ate his sand dollars in hossflesh and punchers' lone supper, and turned in, hoping for time,' was the wrathful comment of better luck next day. About noon he one owner, whose 'top waddy' left his went back to his post in the cedar brag ‘circle-horse' out on the range bower. Again the horses came to completely exhausted and unable to water, this time with the lost horse in step one foot after the other. The the lead. With all the suspicion of the rider walked ten miles or so into camp broken horse he scented danger from in a pair of new cowboy boots with the first. three-inch heels, that skinned his feet Most of the band went into the corso that he could n't walk for a week ral, but he with a few choice spirits afterward.
remained outside, sniffing at the corral That fall most of the range water posts and the open gate, advancing, dried up and many of the wild horses retreating, snorting, touching with that were watering at a rain-water tank in sensitive nose of his everything which the midst of a cedar thicket where rop- to him seemed at all suspicious or ing was an impossibility. Around this which carried with it the scent of man. tank two of the men decided to build Head high in air, he noted the cedar a corral and in it to capture the whole bower under which the man lay with band. To carry out this programme it beating heart and trembling hands. was necessary to build the corral fence He walked slowly toward it, smelling in sections so that the horses, always the ground at every step, punctuating scenting danger, would not stop coming his progress with snorts of fear. to the water hole. At odd times the Eventually he reached the bower and men cut posts and planted them stretched his nose cautiously toward it. stockade fashion in the ground, until Horselike, he pawed viciously at the the tank was completely enclosed. dry ground with one forefoot. A little Whenever they could utilize trees they cloud of dust arose which found its did so. Then they left the gate open way through the boughs to the man's for several days with some large lumps nose. The man was seized with an of rock salt inside as a bait. Finally the awful urge to sneeze. He grabbed his fateful day arrived when they decided nose to choke it back, but when a to try to capture the whole bunch. sneeze gets ready to operate no power
The heavy pole gate, swung 'up- on earth seems able to stop it. The grade' on rude wooden hinges, was very effort to suppress it simply inheld wide open by a small stick to creased its deadliness. And the result
heaward a watheim ile slowly the top
almost blew the man's hiding-place to against it, something was bound to pieces. When he had crawled from happen. And it did. The rope broke beneath it, what he said about that at the loop, or hondoo, and Steeldust, gray horse, his ancestry, his breeding, neighing shrilly for his companions, his general characteristics, would fill a raced away into the dusk of the evebook that could n't be published and ning, victor once more. get through the United States mails. As for the man in the tree: in his
A month later another fellow caught excitement he entirely overlooked the sight of the bunch with Steeldust at its effect of the jerk on the rope. Leaning head, drifting slowly through the cedars eagerly over to watch the horse, he was toward a watering-place. Just at sun- fung from the springing tree like a set he saw them file slowly down the stone from a catapult, landing twenty trail into a deep cañon. At the top of feet away in a pile of rocks, from which the cañon stood two good-sized pines. he crawled with cuts on his face and The man conceived the idea of hanging arms, and bruises all over his body. his rope across the trail between the two pines in such a way that with a slight jerk it would drop down over the horse's head and make him cap Ten days later a Mormon boy, hunttive. Half an hour's careful work and ing horses from a freighter's camp and he had the loop so hung. He climbed riding a lively young pony bareback up into the depths of the branches with with but a rope around his nose to the loose end in his hand, tied it firmly guide him, saw a band of wild horses to a limb, and with the slack in his cross the trail about a mile ahead of hands waited patiently for the horses him. In the lead was a dappled gray to make their appearance along the with a short tail. Steeldust's reputatrail.
tion was known to everyone. The boy It was almost dark when the lead knew of the offer of fifty dollars to anymare in the bunch walked calmly one who would bring the horse to the through beneath him. One after an- X Camp. The nearest cedars were other the horses followed her slowly, three or four miles away. His pony for, full of water as they were, the climb had Steeldust blood in his veins and up the trail winded them all. Finally was unhindered by saddle or bridle, Steeldust came demurely along. While with only an eighty-five-pound rider he was under the overhanging loop a on his back. The boy felt there was slight whistle to attract his attention a fine chance to 'grab off' that fifty caused the horse to throw up his head dollars and win everlasting glory. in alarm. At this instant the man Cleverly he forced the band away from jerked the rope; the loop dropped the sheltering cedars toward which fairly over the animal's head, but they tore from the first jump. A fiveunfortunately he jumped through it mile heat across the sandy prairie and until it ran back against his shoulders. he had ranged fairly close to the tail
The man had planned on the spring enders of the band. Half a mile ahead in the bough to save the rope from of him was a long narrow crack in the breaking, but he had not anticipated prairie. In most places its sides were a catch so far back on the animal's almost perpendicular; it was seldom less neck; hence, when the startled horse then twenty feet wide and in some reached the end of that three-eighths places it was a hundred deep. The boy inch rope and threw his whole weight knew the country well and forced the