After hearing from Pop Milam about the ranch-hand on the neighboring ranch being bitten by the rattlesnake, and dying because he couldn’t get help, we had decided to keep one of the saddle horses in the corral at night—just in case we should need to go for help, or get to town.
We kept “Gray Boy,” the big gray horse I rode because he was easier to handle than “Eagle,” the dark red, rather spirited horse that Ray rode.
We kept the grain-(oats)- in the barn in metal barrels, that we fed the horses. There was a side door opening from this area of the barn into the horse corral to make it convenient when feeding the horses.
This door was fastened with a latch on the outside. We had seen Gray Boy nibbling at this latch several times—he knew perfectly well that the oats were kept just inside this door. But we didn’t dream he could open the latch with his teeth. And one night he did open it—and ate so much of the oats that he foundered himself.
He was a pretty sick horse when we went out to the barn the next morning and found what had happened.
We sent for the Veterinarian, and brought Gray Boy up near the yard and tied him under the shade of a huge oak tree.
His feet, just above the hoof, was very swollen and he seemed to be in a good deal of pain.
Ray had to go to the big pasture to check on the cattle there, so I was alone when the Vet arrived at the ranch.
He got out of his car and was bending over examining Grey Boy’s feet and didn’t hear Alonzo walk up behind him—the deep leaf mold under the trees deadened the sound. Naturally, Alonzo thought the Vet was there solely to scratch his head, so he gave him a little push on the rear to get his attention—the Vet wasn’t’ expecting this, of course, and toppled over head-first under Gray Boy.
I was washing dishes in the kitchen and heard the Vet yelling “Help! Someone! Help!” I thought he had stepped on a rattlesnake or something as bad, and looked out the kitchen window—the Vet was going round and round the big tree, and Alonzo was following him—stopping once in a while to shake his head in bewilderment at this new game of Follow The Leader.
Gray Boy was watching this strange turn of events with interest.
I went out to try to explain to the Vet that Alonzo just wanted his head scratched, but the Vet insisted Alonzo was chasing him and refused to believe he was only following him, which was true.
He made a wild dash for his car and refused to get out as long as Alonzo was there.
So I took off my apron and tied one apron string to his horn and led him to the corral, he had a “now what have I done?” look.
When the Vet got back to town, he told Pop Milam “that big red devil of a Bull” attacked him and chased him. Pop Milam told him Alonzo wouldn’t hurt a horsefly, was too lazy to chase anybody—and didn’t even know he was a bull.
The Vet made two more trips out to the ranch to check on Gray Boy, but refused to get out of his car—just sat and blew the horn, until we went out and penned Alonzo.
His orders were to keep Gray Boy tied up where he was, with a rope short enough to prevent him from lying down, and to treat his feet by standing them in buckets of water to which some sort of medication he left was added.
I guess this treatment made his feet feel better, for Gray Boy didn’t try to lift his feet out of the pails of water.
We brought a big metal tub, and filled it with water for him to drink, and brought his hay to him—he wasn’t to have any grain for several months.
Alonzo thought this arrangement was just wonderful, and invited himself to dinner—every day. He even insisted on drinking from the tub, too, it didn’t bother him that we had to carry that pater in buckets from the well! Alonzo elected himself to keep Gray Boy company and spent most all his time right there. Gray Boy didn’t seem to mind sharing his food and drink with him. And I think even enjoyed his company.
Of course, when we went out to feed and take care of Gray Boy, Alonzo had to have some attention, too—and a lot of head-scratching. He was delighted with this new set-up.
When Gray Boy had improved enough to turn him loose in the “trap,” Alonzo went along with him, grazing close by.
The first evening when feeding time arrived, Gray Boy stood about a hundred yards from the corral where we were feeding Eagle, and whinnied. We thought maybe his feet were hurting him and felt sorry for him. So we took a block of hay and each of us carried a pail of water—for Alonzo was with him and could drink a pail of water all by himself. They both seemed to enjoy their little “picnic”.
The next evening the same thing happened. Only when they had finished their “picnic”, both walked spryly to the corral for their second helping!
Gray Boy had just become used to this special treatment, and somewhat spoiled for attention. Alonzo had been spoiled all his life.
I didn’t want to ride Gray Boy after his “illness” for fear his feet might hurt him, so we brought a bay named Captain, in from the big pasture, and I rode him as long as we were at the ranch.
In the Spring there is much riding to do on a ranch looking after all the new-born calves, lambs, and kids. And trying to protect them from roving packs of coyotes.