October 2016
On the Edge of Common Sense

Be Deliberate

"If you’re in a hurry, be deliberate." It always fascinated me that Charmayne James’ horse Scamper looked like he was running slower than the others, but his time was always faster! Was his stride longer? Was his body longer? Were his legs longer? Did it take less strides to go the same distance as the others? Or was each step done with such precision that it eliminated even the slightest misstep that would add microseconds to the run?

I watch with awe the rodeo calf ropers who flop the calf to the ground and tie him down with two wraps and a hooey, faster than the eye can see! They usually take the short cut on the tie and wait on pins and needles, hoping it will stay tight the required six seconds. However, he takes a risk by going for speed.

In real life, I’ve developed the attitude, "If you’re in a hurry, be deliberate." I don’t care whether I’m tying my horse to a mesquite limb, a hitchin’ rail or the side of a trailer; it’s a long walk back to the corral if you’re a’foot!

So, say yer in the brush and yer pardner has a 200-pound calf roped around the neck bawlin’, his mama bellerin’ and chargin’, and all of them crashin’ back and forth! Many thoughts fly through your mind in the middle of this wreck. Should you try and get a loop around the hocks? Dismount and tie your horse to a branch? Walk down the tight rope, flop the calf and hog-tie him before the bronky cow mows you down, OR. …

Stop the picture and think, deliberately. #1: The calf is caught. Regardless of the tangle he’s in, he’s not getting away. #2: The odds of roping a hind foot in this co-mangled arroyo would be like trying to rope a javelina in a garage with bicycles hanging from the trusses. #3: You have time to dismount and secure your barn-sour horse to a solid limb. #4: You slide your hand down the line, flop the calf and hog-tie him. This releases your pardner from needing to restrain the calf with his rope and he can keep busy shooshing the ferocious mama cow that is now coming at you like a right wing hockey monster!

The key to me is to take the extra seconds that will prevent more problems. If, during your attempt to hurry, you drop the rein, spook the horse, lose your glove or knock your hat off … chalk up a demerit. Any of which causes you to mishandle the tight line, get run over by the calf, get kicked in the groin, burn your hand and drop the calf twice trying to throw him. Finally in desperation you try to imitate Alan Bach with two wraps and a hooey that comes undone as quick as you stand up.

By the third attempt you stop … and remind yourself, "If you’re in a hurry, be deliberate." Steady your hind leg to push forward his hind legs. Drop your piggin’ string, loop around the under front leg, pile the others on, take three wraps – one, two, three – pull’em tight, Umph! Then take at least two hooeys and pull them tight again, Umph! Umph!

Sounds easy, but it’s a matter of control: tie that rein, take that wrap, cut that earmark, drive that nail, tie that knot, drill that hole, wash that dish, insert that key and button your shirt. Do it with the same deliberate concentration you thread a needle, put a Q-tip in your ear or draw a straight line with a paintbrush.

Keep your mind on your business. Thanks for the lesson, Charmayne and Scamper.

 

Baxter Black is a former large animal veterinarian who can be followed nationwide through this column, National Public Radio, public appearances, television, and also through his books, cds, videos and website, www.baxterblack.com.