by Andy Thomas
saw the fast-rising dust of a band of horses approaching us at an angle,
and then, as they got closer, two riders were crowding them closely. One
was a girl on a big white horse. As we watched, she raced alongside a
sorrel that was crowding against other mustangs to get away from her.
They were all going like the wind. Presently, when she got the position
she wanted, she reached over, grabbed the sorrel's man, and slipped
neatly from her seat onto the wild one's back. Her saddle was a
sheepskin pad, held on by a surcingle to which were fastened two brass
stirrups, the whole equipment weighing hardly more than three pounds.
she took with her when she made the glide was a hair rope about ten feet
long. As the sorrel raced on at full speed, she threw a little loop
over his head, tightened it, and then threw upward two half hitches
around his nose. With only this 'bozal' (nose band), she had checked
him, gradually brought him around, and was now guiding him. She was
maybe fourteen years old, small and wiry, weighing about seventy pounds.
Pony express riders used to change horses with spectacular rapidity, but
theirs were broken. This bit of a girl was skimming onto the backs of
mustangs that had never felt human hand or rope.
Thorp, who had witnessed this, went to the camp of the people. There
were six in the family. The father had caught horses using this method, but
at different times had broken both arms and both legs. He was still
light and active. The mother had been a 'mestenera' too. The son had
once mounted wild horses on the run but had grown too heavy for this
acrobatic feat, also for his horse to race up beside the wild ones. Two
daughters, mere children, were herding about twenty horses. So, this is
a way of life, a skill set handed down from generation to generation.
painting was based on the account of a "mesenero" family,
which was taken from "Pardner of the Wind", a book by N.
Howard (Jack) Thorp in collaboration with Neil M. Clark, published by
the Caxton Printers, Ltd.,
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