The ground sure can be hazardous to man and beast.
We’ve been reminded of that a number of times, and the realization came home again last week. While bruises and sprains are often the result of falling to the ground, bones can also be broken. Sometimes, it’s not even from landing on the earth, but by
becoming entangled in it.
Cattle are tough critters that can take lots of nature’s abuses. Yet, they are vulnerable, too. Almost incomprehensible was the result as a heavy-with-calf heifer was being
moved into a smaller pen. Somehow, the heifer’s back leg became caught in the mud and broke it, such that medical treatment would be of no avail.
Although the severely-injured critter could move, she was in sharp pain making it difficult to load her into a trailer. Fortunately for us, although not for the animal, our locker plant was accommodating to immediately process her into hamburger.
On other occasions, cattle have had front legs broken, sometimes due to their own fault and bad attitudes. In these situations, they have survived and led productive lives, although permanently disfigured, lame and always the last one in at roundup.
Horses are even more susceptible to bone fractures than cattle, and we’ve experienced that, too. The worst case was when a young stallion, tied to the fence for his first saddling, pulled back and broke his leg, so that the bone protruded through the skin. Valiant efforts by surgeons were unsuccessful in saving his valuable life.
Another time, a weanling filly became agitated upon being tied, pulled back, threw herself to the ground and popped a front leg. There’s the old saying, which nobody likes to hear: “When a cowboy’s horse breaks its leg, the only choice is to shoot it.” That always makes us cringe. We’d rather humanely euthanize the injured, which we did.
Livestock aren’t the only ones susceptible to broken bones. Our neighbor caught his leg in a hole while walking across the yard, somehow cracked the leg, and he was on crutches for weeks. We’ll never forget the time our cousin, Jimmy, fell off the palomino pony, Pat, and broke his arm.
Our daughter had a mishap with that pony’s brother, Trigger, and fractured her arm, too. Years later, when practicing for bareback pleasure, a rabbit hopped out, startling her mount, who sashayed, and the girl hit the ground on her arm, which snapped. Fortunately, modern medicine repaired the injuries, and it hasn’t altered her aim as an avid team roper.
Even the hard ground has caused us grief. It was 112 degrees, we were riding the 12th customer-horse on July 12th, when the mare went one way, and we went the opposite, landing on our left arm, which suffered three breaks. A pin with three bolts now holds it together, without any apparent negative aftereffects.
A few years later, it was late morning May 10, as we were lolly-jollying across the pasture when a customer-gelding during his 30th ride started pitching, flinging us into
a somersault over his head, such that we landed on our back, suffering a fractured vertebrae. We limped around for weeks and complained even longer, but it’s fine now.
Reminds us of Lamentations 3:4: “My flesh and my skin hath he made old; he hath broken my bones.” Yet, we’re envious of Psalm 34:20: “He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken.” Thus, we remember Psalm 51:8: “Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.”