Four Sixes cowboy Boots O'Neal, 70, tells a story that illustrates the worth of the legendary Texas outfit's horses.
He and five other cowboys were driving a cantankerous, 2,000-pound Brangus bull up a hill, closer to an awaiting trailer. The bull had a different agenda and, when a momentary breach opened, he charged past the cowboys.
O'Neal was closest, and had the best chance of making a catch. He roped the bull around the neck, dallied and turned his horse. The stalwart gelding dug in.
The cowboy knew he might not stop the bull. The Brangus cleared a natural berm and headed downward into an adjacent arroyo. The remaining five cowboys helplessly watched as the bull dragged O'Neal and his horse toward the chasm below, dust and gravel obscuring their view of what they were afraid could be O'Neal's last ride.
Still, the gelding refused to yield, and dropped his center of gravity. Eventually, the downward slide of bull, horse and cowboy slowed and stopped, and other ropes joined O'Neal's.
Later, O'Neal told a friend from another outfit about the episode.
"It was a good thing you were riding one of those stout Four Sixes horses," his friend said.
Such is the reputation of the ranch horses from the Guthrie, Texas, ranch. Folks throughout the West expect the best from working horses at this historic cattle operation. This notoriety began with the first horses ridden by the ranch's cowboys, and continues today, thanks chiefly to the current management's innovative practices.
Read the complete story in the June issue of Western Horseman.