Thunder Butte

July 28, 2005

The Big Drought: Swollen in the Saddle

One day, Billy Briscoe and I were dispatched to trail some of our and the Briscoe’s cattle into Faith, to the stock yards where they would be bought. Because of the drought, we had to follow the cattle rather than drive them. If they walked too fast and didn’t get enough grass to eat on the trip, they would lose weight. So, we took about three days, just to travel from Thunder Butte to Faith.

The first day out, we came to the Moreau River, where the cattle drank and settled down in the shade of the trees. Our horses were dripping wet from the heat, so I pulled the saddle off mine. He was a very skittish bronc type. The flies covered him to soak up the moisture when I pulled off the saddle. The flies started driving him crazy pretty quickly, so I had to ear him down to get the saddle back on. When the saddle was on, he whirled and kicked me in both upper thighs. He got a direct hit, and I fell to the ground thinking that my legs were broken. I managed to get back into the saddle and we got the cattle going again, but I was riding a "contest" saddle and my legs swelled until my jeans nearly split and wedged me tightly into the saddle. When it started to get dark, we bedded the cattle down and I tried to get off the horse, but I couldn’t manage it. I was so swollen in my jeans that I was wedged tightly, so Billy undid the cinch strap and the saddle and I slid to the ground—saddle and all

We were pretty tired so we slept soundly all night, even though I was swelled into the saddle. By morning, the swelling had gone down enough that I was able to get out of the saddle. Then, we were faced with a pretty bad hunger and no coffee. After talking it over, Billy rode a couple of miles to Rattlesnake Pete’s place where he bummed some coffee grounds and Pete gave him a slice of goat meat for us to split. That was one of the best breakfasts I ever remember. We spent the rest of that day and the next night with Rattlesnake Pete and his goats. Since my legs were pretty much back to normal, we finished the trip into Faith.

--John Crowley
Mike Crowley Thursday, July 28, 2005


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