The Rest Of The Story

Rustic V’s Raisin Cain (Coyote) 1997-2018

I told the bare facts about the end, but that’s not the way Coyote deserves to be remembered. There was so much more to him, a lifetime of memories that shouldn’t be forgotten, overshadowed by the ending.

Back in 1999 I think it was? My mom, and the rest of my family, were at a horse fair in Northern IL. They went to watch the horse sale, not because she was looking for another horse, just because it was there. A place to sit down. Watch the horses that went through.

In the middle of all the quarter horses came three two year old Morgan colts. The first sold to my former dressage instructor, a Morgan person, the third was a chocolate with flaxen mane and tail, he sold well. The second one through was the typical scrawny ugly two year old Morgan. His sorrel and flaxen coloring hadn’t been enough to make him bring good money. He went to a very bad man. We knew the man from team penning. Not personally but from they way people would say that “Charlie was there, better lock up your trailers. Keep your horses away from Charlie.”

Mom sent my brother to make him an offer of more than he had just paid for the ugly little colt. He went home with a profit on the horse he hadn’t even touched and mom had to find a way to get this unexpected new horse home.

When Coyote was old enough to start she sent him out to me. I was going to put a year or so on him then send him back to her. I never sent him back.

I was working on a ranch. A big place out in the middle of nowhere. All the work on the ten thousand acre place was done horse back. Coyote covered miles of country, over big hills and rocky ground with typical Morgan eagerness. He could go and go. Never having worn a pair of shoes he stayed sound, his hooves hard as a rock. Out growing that awkward teen age stage Coyote grew to be a big beautiful bot. He was fit, trotting for miles checking tanks and moving between pastures. Still he was so hugely built and thick that people thought he was obese. I spent lots of time repeating that no, he’s in really good shape right now, he’s just that wide.

He was a wise and fierce cow horse, as Morgans tend to be. The cows of that ranch were mean, as soon as they calved they would be more than happy to eat anyone who got close. Moving or doing anything at all with them was nearly impossible.

One time it was our job to hold a cow off as her calf got an ear tag. Coyote was getting into the ground working her, back and forth we went. Until the cow decided she was going to her calf. She came straight at us. Before she hit him Coyote went up on his hind legs striking and biting at the cow. She went underneath him. I remember sitting up there thinking, wow, there’s a cow under us. I wonder how this is going to end. He reached around and was biting her on one side as she went under then turned and started biting the other side as she came out. We all survived.

He taught me so many things. Once while trying to get a cow and calf to move, out of the calving lot to the big pasture, the calf laid down and Would. Not. Move. I tried everything I could think of from the saddle to get them going. I couldn’t get down, the mom was not friendly. Finally Coyote heaved a big annoyed sigh. Then he picked up hid front hoof, put it on the calves side, and shook. The calf leapt up and took off running. I spent lots of time scratching Coyotes neck and telling him what a very good boy he was. After that we were able to put it on cue and it became one of his most handy talents.

He would put his head down and push calves along with his head while moving them. Shoving them in the direction he knew they were supposed to be going. Biting them on the hindquarters and back. I often called him my big red heeler. When moving bulls I never did think it was quite as cute to reach up and take a bite.

The times he raced headlong across slick icy footing, rushing to turn the leaders as they started off the wrong direction in pastures that were comprised of many thousand acres, are too numerous to count. He was sure footed and never took a wrong step.

In blizzards the cattle tend to drift with the wind, moving out of sheltered areas, away from hay and safety. With both our heads bent against the wind, trying to keep the stabbing snow from our eyes. In the howling whiteout the cows and calves were barely visible. Hands numb with cold let the reins drop to hang loose on his neck. Suddenly he lurched to the side. A mama cow reluctant to keep moving charged him. He leapt nimbly out of her way. Then turned, head down, snaking out to chase her calf along who had stopped and tried to turn back. Blinded by the snow, I hadn’t even seen them.

As we both grew older we settled down to farm life. Coyote still got to work cattle. But he got a break from full time work, from night calving, and day long drives. Now he had far more precious work to do.

As both of my children were born he was the one trusted to give them their first ride on a horse. Bareback in a halter he would walk quietly down the driveway carrying us double, or occasionally triple. He would pony the children’s horses, with as much patience and forbearance as he used to pony colts in training. He was trusted completely to have children around underfoot learning to groom and petting his nose.

After we lost Princess Onna this spring he took over as head kids horse. My big fiery boy who used to gallop headlong over the fields, who was in his teens the last time I got off and walked so I wouldn’t die because of his antics, carried my daughter so calmly and steadily. Too much so sometimes as she complained that she wanted to go faster!

In the nearly twenty years that I’ve been lucky enough to have Coyote in my life lots of horses have come and gone. He was always the constant. The one I knew I could depend on. The one I preferred to ride. He could out walk almost anything, rope, cut, dressage, or reining. Anything I needed to do he could do it. We had hoped to keep him around well into his thirties but the good ones can never stay long enough. He will be sorely missed and can never be replaced.


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