Soapweed's Ranch Ramblings
The writings of a Nebraska Sandhills cattle rancher!

Tom Cat... Tribute to a Good Horse

Apr 12, 2005

My "perfect" horse is now 23 years old, as of this spring. I am continually looking for a good young gelding to take his place, and have bought and traded quite a few in recent years in my search, but none have all the qualifications that he does.

I purchased Tom Cat when he was a two-year-old and broke him myself. He is a grade horse, and shows a bit of Percheron. When he was young, he was almost a grulla color, but turned grey and is now almost white. He has feathers on his legs, but is a pretty good looking horse if these feathers are trimmed off each spring. All four hooves are well-shaped and his legs are sound with adequate bone. He stays in good flesh, and has a tough enough hide that he has never been cinch sore. His withers are just right to hold a saddle in place, and he travels true and is steady on his feet.

Tom Cat stands 15 hands plus two inches, and weighs 1200 pounds. On his nose is a "mustache", and this is a characteristic shared by the best three horses I have owned through the years. Even though the intelligence of a horse is said to be related to how high the cowlick is on their head, Tom Cat's cowlick is below the level of his eyes. It doesn't seem to matter in his case.

This good grey horse has speed, endurance, cow sense, and a good traveling running walk. He is a bit rough, and when he is after a cow you'd better hang on tight or he'll get out from under you. He is fun to rope calves on in a branding corral, as he does his best to help you get into position. If you miss, he gets mad.

When doctoring cattle out in the pasture, Tom Cat works real well. He can sneak around in the herd, while they are gathered at a windmill or in a fence corner. He tries hard to put you in the right position to slip on a loop without disturbing the herd. If you miss a couple times, and your quarry gets wary, he will ease them to the edge of the herd and give you all the speed needed to catch the critter. After that bovine has been doctored, he calms right down so you can try to sneak a loop on the next victim.

Tom Cat is gentle for anyone to ride, but he still has spirit to carry a person all day without tiring. You can open barbed wire gates from his back, carry a calf over the saddle horn, or drag a calf sled. Nothing bothers him except getting wormed twice a year. He absolutely hates the mere thought of the slippery paste sliding down his throat.

He is a friendly cuss, and can be caught out in the pasture if you have a piece of "cake" in your pocket. Ride him bareback until you get to the barn, and then slide off and brush the white hairs off your britches.

All in all, ol' Tom Cat is just a member of the family. He has turned into such a perfect horse, that he is the yardstick by which I measure all others. I haven't yet found one that can walk in his shadow. Though he is 23 years old, by looking at him and watching him in action you would think he was an eight-year-old. He truly enjoys being a full-fledged partner in the operation of this ranch.






Copyright © 2005 Steve Moreland
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