No bull about keeping superstitions

By Glenda Price: CNJ columnist

They say superstition takes over when you’re facing situations you’ve got no control over — like a horse you KNOW is gonna break in two, you just don’t know when.

So what you do in a case like that is give yourself an edge. When you get on that particular horse, you make sure and wear that green shirt with fancy pearl snaps because last time he bucked you got him rode — wearing that shirt.

When I was barrel racing I had to have a certain Navajo saddle blanket and my black, butterfly-print shirt. Of course I didn’t always win, but it was dead certain that without those two special items I was a goner. And I never won without them.

I knew a guy who wouldn’t get on a bull unless he had a filter cigarette clamped between his teeth. He had some spectacular wrecks, but he ALWAYS got up with that cigarette still in place. Now and then he won.

People wonder why maybe a top rodeo cowboy shows up wearing patched, worn-out boots. Probably he won the bronc riding wearing those boots five years ago.

It’s easy to declare, “I don’t believe in that stuff.”

I say, “You never know. It doesn’t hurt.”

You’ve gotta eat certain foods before a go-round, your horse maybe needs a special little feather nobody else will notice tied into his mane. A penny in your boot helps, too.

Ranch boys all have to try riding a bull at least once. My friend Val was a deep-breathing cowboy, so when the time came to enter the local punkin-rollin’ he put up his money and managed for a bull rope.

During the ’dogging we all hung out behind the chutes. Val looked sorta pale to me, but I sure didn’t mention it. He was fixing everything just right — boots, gloves, chaps, spurs. And he was not talking. That definitely was a first.

When they loaded Val’s bull in the chute, his buddy Mac climbed up and set him down. We’d seen that bull before — Titanic. I’m sure his horns were as big around as my leg, and they had not been tipped. They were long and sharp.

I found the photographer and suggested he plant himself where he could be quick with the click. He did, luckily, because Val lasted maybe two jumps before old Titanic belly-rolled him off. Val hung up a little, and one horn got him in the head. He told the clown he was all right, and staggered out of the arena.

We found him curled up in his pickup about an hour later. This was a punkin-rollin’ in the old days. No such thing as those Justin Sports Medicine guys.

Val managed, finally, to heal up and hair over.

Guess what he said? “Lucky I was wearing my brown chaps. Old Titanic mighta really hurt me.”

Plus he still has that great picture of himself on that bull. He just doesn’t tell the “rest of the story.”

Glenda Price has been a contributing editor to New Mexico Stockman magazine since 1982. Contact her at: