It's those pivotal moments in all our lives that meld & form our essence!
|In 1952, Spud Cremer was working for the Padlock Ranch at the Connelly Camp in South Central Montana. He was young, early 20's, and still enjoying that age of immortality. He had grown up on a ranch at the foot of the Crazy Mountains and was well experienced in the adversities of ranching. None, however, had prepared him for the events about to take place. Nature has a masterful way of bringing humility to the arrogance of youth and mankind.
It all began early one morning after a 4:00 AM breakfast, prepared by the cow foreman's wife at a remote cow camp. It had been a good breakfast and all the cowboy's for the outfit had rolled out of the bunkhouse to partake of the hot pancakes, eggs and bacon that would be the only sustenance for a long time that day. They were preparing for a twenty mile circle gathering cattle out of a pasture that had more gullies, coulees, brush and tough ridin' country than anyone would ever look forward to.
They had all gone out to the corral where the cavy of horses were waiting, and planning in their own heads how they might avoid the hoolihan that would come sailing their direction this morning. When Spud entered the rope corral he had his eye on a young black colt named Tar Baby that had been put in his string and needed to see some miles and country under his belly. He mailed his loop and, despite the colts' agility, caught him up and led him out of the corral. There was the usual friendly joking from the other cowboys about how today was the day that maybe Spud could put on a little Rodeo for their entertainment.
Now this colt was full of potential to become a great cow horse but he was young and a little spooky about noises that he never gave a second thought to when he didn't have a saddle on his back. The process of getting saddled and ready took only a few minutes and held no events of great notation. With everyone ready to go the Cow Boss gave the sign and they started off at a trot into the early morning dusk, each in their own quiet thoughts of the day ahead.
As I said, Mother Nature has a peculiar sense of humor and just about a quarter of a mile away from camp, Spud gets an internal message that allows he'd forgotten to take care of an important daily ritual that morning before he left. As such, being so close to camp, he decided to fall back and return to the outhouse, catching up with the cowboys later. Thinking the colt could probably use a little extra airing out this morning anyway.
Meanwhile, back at camp the Mrs. Cow Boss was in the process of cleaning up the breakfast dishes and standing over the sink, occasionally glancing out the window at the view that, this morning, just happened to include the very same outhouse that Spud was returning to.
One of the most important rules a cowboy learns is that most of the time he will be alone in his travels from day to day and that above all he can not afford to turn loose of his horse under any circumstances. Now this applies whether he gets bucked off, his horse falls with him, or even when Mother Nature sends out a call. Following that rule and having no place to tie his young, inexperienced partner, Spud steps off his horse and goes into the outhouse to quietly and unobtrusively take care of business, all the while, holding the reins out through the partially open door.
Young, inexperienced horses can find boogers about anywhere, anytime, and in any place if they have a mind to. This of course is where the comedy begins. Just as Spud is doing the paper work of the job, the colt experiences the fright of his life and falls backward on his haunches in an attempt to escape the horrific devil he's just imagined. In keeping with the Rule, Spud holds on tenaciously to the reins now being jerked outu through the partially open door of the outhouse. Now we're talking about an exercise in physics here. There is an 850-900 pound spooked colt running backwards on the end of a pair of reins attached to a 135-140 pound man in an outhouse with his pants down around his knees. It doesn't take a visionary to figure out where this is headed.
As the colt hits the end of the reins in an explosion of reverse, Spud follows the lead with equal speed out through the door trying to gather up his pants, hold on to the reins, and keep his feet under him all at the same time. Running with your pants around your ankles would be a feat in itself. Impossible though, on the end of the reins, skidding along the ground. He looses his feet, of course, falls down, and gets dragged across the open area not far out the window of the Cow Camp hostess, who just now decides to look again at the progress of the on coming morning.
After a bit of scuffle, the colt realizes that the devil must have just appeared in his daydream and true to his endurance, Spud held onto the reins and was able to get back on his feet, gather up his pants, and recover a bit of his dignity. Thinking to himself how lucky he must be that the other cowboys had ridden on and hadn't witnessed this humiliating debacle. He glanced over at the house and met the eyes of a woman whose face could only be described as registering shock.
Spud looked away, caught his stirrup, and rode away glowing. Of course, the vibrant colors that morning were probably just the early morning sunrise casting its glow on the day.
Mrs. Cow Boss never spoke a word of the incident to Spud, nor he to her. Some 60 years later, Spud had occasion to meet the lady again, and thought it might be appropriate to thank her for her generosity in keeping this incident quiet. She looked at him in astonishment, yet again, and declared she didn't remember anything about the story.
Mother Nature also has her way protecting the innocent, while teaching the lessons of humility.