By Glenda Price
Bud and Kathy ride horses, of course, but they also like to ride mules, especially in rough country.
Awhile back they bought a new mule, and Bud was ready to try him out. Kathy knew she couldn’t quite trust the one they already had but she didn’t know the new one at all, so she rode the original, Old Lonesome.
The dog went along, of course, sniffing at gopher holes, bushes and everything else he found interesting along the way.
Late fall put its special zing in the air. Her mule behaved himself fairly well, so Kathy relaxed a little and enjoyed the fresh mountain smells and the scenery. The new mule Bud was riding handled all right.
Life was good — until the dog found a porcupine. More to the point, the porcupine found him. He yelped in pain and ran toward Bud and Kathy, his face loaded with quills.
Kathy’s mule came unglued. Kathy is a good rider, so she stayed with him through the first couple of jumps, but the last lurch dumped her in a pile of rocks. Old Lonesome headed for home.
Bud’s mule, of course, didn’t appreciate the storm and tried to take off after Old Lonesome. As they lunged by, Bud yelled, “You all right?”
Kathy, true to the Code of the West (never admit you’re hurt) answered, “I think so.”
Bud finally got the new mule stopped and turned around. Kathy had managed to get to her feet.
Have you noticed guys think you’re okay if you’re upright? Your body may be mangled, but if you’re standing they assume you’re fine.
Bud looks from the dog to Kathy. Old Lonesome is long gone. “Can you make it to the house?” he asks. (This question is directed at Kathy, but he’s looking at the dog.)
Again Kathy says, “I think so.”
So Bud carefully lays the dog across his saddle swells and heads for the house — about half a mile. The new mule doesn’t object at all.
Kathy takes a couple of steps before she realizes her leg hurts — really bad. Nothing to do but try to get home. The mountain scenery that was so nifty a few minutes ago isn’t so great from her new view from down among the grass and weeds.
She treks out, each step more painful than the last, and the last hundred yards are pure torture. At the barn Bud, pliers in hand and dog in his lap, says, “We’re gonna hafta take him to the vet.” He looks at Kathy and again says, “You all right? You look awful.”
“I’m not good,” she admits.
Bud loads Kathy and the dog in the pickup and they head for town. They go by the veterinarian’s place first.
It turns out Kathy’s leg is fractured. She says next time she’s in a wreck and Bud asks if she’s okay, she’s gonna ignore the Code of the West and say, “No. I’m not okay.”
Glenda Price has been a contributing editor to New Mexico Stockman magazine since 1982. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.