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Slim Randles

Learnin’ The Ropes

Steve, the tall cowboy of us philosophy types, was riding a young horse through town the other day to get him used to “boogers.”

To gentle a horse, he explained, you give them something to booger at, and then talk them out of it. You keep coming up with new boogers and calming the horse until screaming fire engines and jet exhaust are no problem at all.

He rode up to the Campbell house and saw Anita, Dud’s wife, shaking out a throw rug. The young horse began blowing nuclear snot all over the front yard and his eyes bugged out.

“Anita,” Steve said, “would you mind coming over here with that rug for a minute?”

She walked slowly up to the young horse, who was crouched in the starting blocks preparing for an elliptical orbit around the sun.

“I don’t want to frighten him,” Anita said.

“That’s why I’m here, actually,” Steve said. “Would you let him smell the rug?”

She carefully and slowly held the rug up to where the colt could sniff it. He sniffed and snorted, sniffed and snorted … then sniffed, and sniffed. Then he eyed it carefully and touched it with his nose.

“If you wouldn’t mind,” Steve said, running his hand along the horse’s neck, “could you back up about three steps and then start wiggling it?”

She backed up and gently wiggled the rug. Snort, snort, legs in starting blocks. Ready to booger.

“That’s it,” Steve said, calmly, rubbing the horse’s neck. “Now shake it a little harder.”

More snorts. More rubbing.

“Now shake it really hard.”

It took the best part of a minute before the horse calmed down and just watched Anita with curiosity instead of fear.

“Thanks, Anita,” Steve said. “You’ve helped a lot.”

She looked up at him. “But why did you want me to shake a rug at him, Steve?”

And Steve grinned and said, “I’m thinking about getting him a job in a carpet cleaning business and I want him to learn the ropes.”

Sponsored by the music of genuine cowboy, singer, actor and retired college professor, Steve Cormier.