Workin’ A Rope

by Jake Hershey on October 28, 2012

There’s more than one way to do a lot of things in this world or as the old saying goes, there’s more than one way to skin a cat.  I would submit that there’s more than one way to do most everything in this world.  My wife would submit that there’s two ways, those being the right way and the way I do it.  I would submit that she needs to have more faith in her husband and have more of an open mind….but that’s a subject for another time.

One of the things that there’s more than way to do is training, or breaking, or starting a horse.  See there, there’s even more than one word to call it.  Ever since the first man and horse met and man thought to himself, “If I could catch that rascal I could ride it.”, man has come up with hundreds, if not thousands, of ways to “Catch that rascal and ride it”, along with all of the things that come after just being able to ride it.  As with most things, the art of getting a horse to allow you to tie a dead cow on its back and then allow you to crawl up on that dead cow and ride around has evolved over time.  Man has learned to “think like a horse” and thus, the so called new wave of “natural horsemanship” has taken the world by storm.  Truth be told, there have always been great horsemen and women…technology has just made it so that a select few can now share their methods with the world.  I’m a firm believer in many of the so called “natural horsemanship” methods.  In my younger days, I worked on ranches that still ran their colts out of the mountains as 3 year olds into a pen, where they then saw a man for the first or second time in their life.  Then, they sorted one horse off into a smaller pen, roped him, wrapped the rope around a snubbing post and choked the horse down until it could be saddled.  Then, a cowboy would crawl up on its back and the rope would be turned loose.  An effective method to “catch that rascal and ride it”….yes.  But in my opinion, not the best method.

However, there is something to be said for natural selection.  I made my living shoeing horses for several years.  In that time, “natural hoofcare” became popular.  People started asking me, “If wild horses don’t get their feet trimmed and wear steel shoes, then why should mine?”

The answer is simple:  In the wild, the horses that didn’t have good feet died.  Also, I’ve never seen a wild horse rope a steer and then pull the steer that it just roped across a deep sand arena.  I’ve also never seen a group of wild horses set up 3 barrels and have a contest to see who could run around them in a cloverleaf pattern the fastest.  You get my point.  Besides good feet, another thing that a horse must have to survive is intelligence.  And not all domesticated horses have the same IQ.  I was talking to a cowpuncher the other day about just such a horse.  This guy has a contract with the government to catch wild cattle in some pretty rough country.  The kind of country that can be hard on cowboys and especially the horses they ride.  As such, the cowboys usually don’t spend much money on the horses they take with them to fulfill a contract.  Because of that, not all of their horses are the sharpest knives in the drawer.

This cowpuncher told me a story of how he has taught more than one of his intellectually challenged mounts to work a rope.  More than once, he has simply roped a wild cow and with the other end of his rope tied off to the saddle horn, he simply….and I quote…”Stepped off my horse and went and sat in the shade while he figured out how to keep that rope tight and his eye on the cow at the other end of it.”

If you don’t understand all of the things that can happen by doing this, I pity you.  You’re missing out on an awesome way of life.  If you do understand and can picture it in your head…I promise you, it’s true.  This cowpuncher said that he’s seen that rope go everywhere-under the horse, around it’s legs and neck and face and head, under its tail, etc.  But according to him, after the wreck is over you can be assured of two things: 1)That the horse will dang sure watch a cow and keep the rope that’s attached to said cow tight.  And 2) That it might take awhile to get back on that horse.  Another cowpuncher standing nearby as I heard this method added, “It’ll dang sure teach a horse to look out for itself.”

Like I said, there’s more than one way to do most things in this world.  But there is one thing in this world that can only be done one way.  That thing is knowing for sure that your soul will go to heaven when you die.  Notice I didn’t say if you die….I said when you die.  There are lots of religions in this world, but there is only one Jesus Christ.  Most all religions have one thing in common…they teach that man is flawed and needs to be made right to go to heaven.  But all other religions teach that the way to do that is by works.  Christianity is the only religion that teaches that the way to forever in heaven isn’t by your works….it’s by the grace that comes through the sacrifice Jesus made for all mankind by being beat, tortured and nailed to a cross.

Horses aren’t the only thing God made with varying IQ’s.  Some people have been shown the way to heaven in a slow, methodical, gentle and natural method more times than they can count.    But they still don’t get it.  And at the end of their rope is life.  And it’s running out of control, doing everything it can to get that person in another wreck.  If that person is you, know this.  God loves ya.  He created you for a reason.  He knows you’ve got all the ability in the world to be a top hand, but you’ve got to learn to control what’s at the other end of the rope.  And you’ll never be able to do it on your own.

So quit tryin’ to save yourself.  You can’t do it.  Jesus can.  Just ask.

He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”1 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.”  Acts 16:30-31


Jake Hershey 10/28/12

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  • Boy, I’m glad I’m not a horse in that cowpuncher’s herd. He clearly has no thoughtfulness for them. There’s no way in heck I’d ever abandon the horse I promised I’d lead, just to teach him to work a rope- or for any other reason. And, I disagree with anyone who says that some horses are dumb. It is our job as the horse’s leader and teacher to help that horse be ready for any situation. Kind of like God has given us the Bible so that we may be ready for any situation the world will throw at us.

    Honestly, after reading this, I might even be glad I’m not a horse in your herd. Horses aren’t dumb. They’re just horses. They only know how to be a horse, and they can’t think like a human. And for us to expect them to think like a human is wrong. It’s our job to learn to speak horse, NOT the other way around.

  • Old Ralph

    Well i’ed just as well jump in with both feet , stir the pot, or what ever you want ot call it. The story is not about abusing horses and cattle. Life’s lessons are sometimes harch and hard, sweet and blood and, yes tears. The harder the lesson the longer you will remember it, and bennifit from it. Try loseing a child, you will accept God’s will and understand his love, knowing that your child is in the arms of Jesus Christ, will carry you through alot of rough nights. Now as to the training of ol time rope horses, ther is a big difference between a ranch tool, and a backyard pet. Try 600 sections of rocks and thorns, add 400 miles of steel pipe water lines laid on top of the ground because you can’t bury pipe in the rocks. Add 120 degree heat , working cattle in the moonlight and all you do is care for your tools[ horses]. Feed them good, wash their backs before yous saddle them, pull thornes from their legs at night when you get in. We didn’t treat horses like that to be mean. We didn’t have a choise. Try working 8 months without a day off. I firely belive that God will try you on a regular basic, drouth, fire, heat and cold. You do the best that you can and ride on. Remember , we are blessed everyday with small favors, just pay attention. OLD RALPH

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