Roberto Garcia’s mare came shoulder to shoulder with a cow, breaking from the herd. She is headed back out into the vast open landscape that the herd has been gathered from, over the past month. If she escapes, the herd may break from being held on the roundup ground and stampede in all directions.
The cow is sleek and fat, it appears that she did not bring a calf to the herd and has no maternal draw, back to the call of a calf. Roberto has taken a deep seat in the saddle. I am moving on horseback on his left side, my reins tied behind the saddle horn, hoping to capture this event, without getting in the way. This is a race of instinct, the cow to escape, the horse to get her back into the herd. The race is full out, but Roberto main a high and tight rein to prevent the mare from getting ahead of the cow, who can stop and turn behind the horse on a dime. He must pull the mare’s head up, to keep her from falling violently foreword, catching him under the saddle.
The mare is “rating the cow” while keeping a full stride, Roberto is sliding his hand down the left rein and pressing his right calf into the mare’s side to slowly moving her shoulder against the cow’s so that he pushes her in a great long arc that bends her around so that she is moving back and to the herd.
The partnership of a good cow horse and a skilled horseman had been the fundamental element for more than a century of delivering beef to markets from this place on the Southern end of The Great Plains.