Rimfiring is a hazard in the work of a cowpuncher. Once a horseman has roped a bovine, he must be careful that he doesn’t rimfire another horseman near him. He must control the bovine he is tied to. If a roper lets his catch wrap another horseman in the rope, he rimfires that other horseman. No matter how gentle a horse is, he will explode when rimfired. A man who has been rimfired is liable to regard the person who rimfired him in much the same way he would regard a mule, always sort of half an ass and not to be trusted.
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Caballo de pobre, pobre caballo”–Poor man’s horse, poor horse, is the Mexican, saying. It is true a poor man’s horse might not get much to eat, but the horse earns what he gets or the poor man would not keep him. On the other hand, a man can own thousands of dollars in horseflesh and hundreds of thousands in horsepower and still be afoot. Among horsemen this is sometimes known as being “horse poor.”
The cowboy term “dally” comes from the Mexican dale vuelta. A cowboy’s dallies are the wraps he take on his saddlehorn with the end of his rope after he has snagged his loop on a fleeing bovine. A dallying cowboy is a busy man. He has no leisure time in which to contemplate this dallying. If his dallies go wrong for him a cowboy can lose a finger or even a hand between the dally and the saddlehorn. Because of this danger, a cowboy cannot be considered to be dallying in the ordinary sense of the word, as in dilly-dallying.
The true dally hand uses a long rope and a smooth horn. The Mexican vaquero is a true dally hand because he work in country where stock is light and saddletrees are not as strong as tree stumps. His ropes are handmade rawhide or short-fibered maguey and are easily broken by a sudden jerk. Horses are small. Cattle are raised a long way from market and must be handled carefully. A vaquero lets his rope run and burn on his saddlehorn so he will not jerk down his steer, bust his horse, break his saddletree, or snap his rope. Dallying is for small horses, cattle a man has to wait on, and men who have to be careful with their livestock to make a living.
Cowboys will tie onto anything as long as it is robust. They will tie onto Satan to see if they can hold him long enough to fairground him and bust him down and break an egg in him. They will rope Doctor Timothy Leary, given the chance, and tie a cowhide to his tail to see if he will go out and have a runaway. Let any man, beast, or idea present a daring target to a cowboy, and he will spread his loop with strangulation and fun on his mind, as long as he is not already beholden to the man, the beast, or the idea.
A man who has been working hard and driving himself with no thought of self-preservation will sometimes feel like freeing himself of the leases and holds anyone else has on him and driving himself to distraction. This is known among cowboys as going on a high lonesome.
After the bulk of cattle have been shipped off an outfit, the cattle that have been missed are called the remnant. The work of gathering the remnant is the hardest work a cowboy does, but it is the most fun because it usually is done all downhill so fast a cowboy’s eyes water. The renegade remnant’s rule is run and they lead fuller lives than the ordinary bovine.
A hondo is the small, even loop, knotted on the end of a lariat. Americans took the word “hondo” from the Mexican, honda, which means the same thing. Lazo is also a Spanish word. The lasso is the hop formed by passing the end of the rope through the hondo.
A cowpuncher must take the time to make himself a good hondo in a new rope. The rope must pass easily through the hondo and the overhand knot which joins the hondo must be thrown evenly so the hondo does not lie twisted.
A good hondo must be reinforced with leather, called wear leather, to protect the hondo loop. A cowboy has to soak his leather overnight, so it will stretch and be easy to handle. He has to punch holes in the leather small enough so they do not weaken the leather. The holes should be so small it hurts his fingers to pass the thick thongs through them. He has to pull and tighten the thongs to sew the leather around the rope He has to tighten them so tight the water in the leather will ooze out. He has to la the hondo leather dry before he uses the rope.
If he meets all these prerequisites, he will have a good hondo and might not have to meet them again until he gets a new rope. Only he can perform this chore for himself. No one is going to do it for him, and he doesn’t like to do it enough todo it for anyone else, Making hondos is just too deep an exaspenting chore, requiring the very ends of the fingers the ends of patience, the end of the day, and the end of the rope in the operation.
When a cowboy says a man is a good neighbor, he means that the man’s concern for the bovine does not extend only to his own boundaries. A good neighbor intends to be of service in helping any bovine perform his certain duties.
A neighbor might not have exactly the same idea as another company of what service to the other company’s bovine should be. If a good neighbor finds another company’s steer out of bounds, he might decide that steer lacks growth and might rope him and bust him down to stretch his hide. He enjoys this type of service. He might break the steer’s leg in the process. If such an accident happens, a good neighbor may butcher the steer and eat the meat, divining that the other company had sent the steer over to repay a favor.
A good neighbor might gather steers belonging to another company at shipping time, sell them with his own steers, and give the money to the company. Or he might keep the money and think of a better way to be a good neighbor if he is sure, deep in his cowman’s heart, that the neighboring company doesn’t need money.
A cowboy wants to see tallow on his charges. He believes that no matter what color, breed, age, or class a cow is, if she doesn’t have tallow, she is ugly. The old cowboy saying is “Fat is the prettiest color.” Some cattle make pones of fat, round bulges of fat, on their sides and hips between hide and flesh. Other cattle make it evenly, in fine thick layers and intruding like veins of marble through the flesh. The companies prefer some breeds of cattle because of the way they manufacture tallow. A cowboy enjoys seeing tallow on any bovine under his care. Seeing it on a steak, rolling under a hide, or adorning a saddle to preserve it is a cowboy’s pleasure.
A querencia is an individual animal’s own abode. It is a flesh and blood creature’s mating, birthing, feeding, playing, sleeping ground. It is the place where he finds subsistence best for himself. The brave bull will often make a querencia of a certain area in the bullring and the matador feels he will do a better job of killing him if he can draw him out of his querencia. An Indian is united with his querencia no matter how far away from it he finds himself and no matter who think he owns it. The Indian yearns to be in I is own home ground in this life and the next. A cowboy’s querencia is anywhere he finds the seldom and meager society of other cowboys, open country and good horses for traveling it, feed and water for cattle and a job to do with cattle.