In my story, Bull Riding Fools, I tell about how we used to go out to Flay Randolph’s ranch, sit on the corral fence,  and jump on the backs of yearlings as they would walk by. We would also get to ride Flay’s horses, and that was a blast. In spite of the fact the little town we lived in—Buckeye, Arizona—was surrounded by farms and ranches, we were still pretty much city kids. Visiting Flay and Irene Randolph just outside of town was a real treat.

One time I was riding one of the horses out in the pasture, where some steers—not very big ones—were grazing. The saddle Flay had put on the horse for me had a lariat hanging on the side, up by the saddle horn, so I thought I’d try my hand at roping. I’d seen cowboys do it on TV and at the Helzapoppin Rodeo, and figured it looked pretty easy; especially considering the cows at Flay’s didn’t seem to mind if I rode right up next to them on the horse.

I took the rope off the saddle and after a little figuring, got the loop let out a bit. I held the looped end in my right hand and had the rest of the rope in my left hand. I eased over to one of the steers, and dropped the loop over its head; piece a cake. Only problem is, maybe it didn’t mind me coming up alongside it, but evidently, it didn’t like to be roped. It took off like it was shot out of cannon, running across the pasture. Nobody told me you were supposed to tie the other end of the rope to the saddle horn.

I was letting the rope out as fast as I could, and when I saw it was almost to the end, I grabbed on tight and leaned back, thinking I’d stop that little old steer right in his tracks; that’s how it always worked when Rowdy Yates did it. As you may have guessed, the steer kept going, and I went too!

I hung onto that rope and went flying off the horse, landing with a thud in the alfalfa field. I didn’t hang on long; it was no fun at all getting dragged through the knee-high grass.

Flay got a good laugh out of it when I told him what I’d done. He got on another horse, and went to retrieve his rope. When he got back, he showed me how you’re supposed to tie the rope to the saddle horn. It made a lot of sense, after I’d already discovered the way NOT to rope a steer!


  1. Sherry Mashburn said

    Awesome story , , , and great visual!! You made me laugh!

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