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Honorable Mention - "The Brahman Bull"

1992 Anne Horton Writing Award
Honorable Mention
"The Brahman Bull"
Judy Emmert

I usually had dreams about cattle with tears in their eyes when I worked for Ben Cattle Company, and I always found hurt or sick cattle the next day. But the last dream I had in August, 1983, was so different it scared me. The dream was about reddish-brown cattle trampling around my bed room and over me. When I woke up I was shaking. This dream prompted me to go to work early that day. My dream told me that there must be something wrong with the cattle.

As I arrived at work that morning, I saw that the cattle in pen three were already up. They were bellowing and slushing through the manure that smelled so rank I had to pull my neckerchief up over my nose. I quickly saddled my horse Toni and rode to the pen. I didn't have to enter the pen. I could see from the gate that the brownish-red, eight-hundered pound Brahman bull, was bellowing and struggling to get out of the manure that was up to his belly.

I rode quickly back to my boss, Jim Ben, with sweat dripping from me. Jim then told the greenhorn foremen, Tom, to help me throw a rope on the bull and pull him out of the manure pile.

It's very dangerous roping any kind of cattle, but a Brahman bull is the most dangerous, simply because a Brahman is genetically raised for fighting.

Tom seemed nervous about roping the bull, so I asked Jim if he was sure that Tom could handle the job. Jim said, "Tom is an experienced cattle man." I had little confidence in Tom's abilities. As we entered the pen, Tom said to me, "I've never roped an animal before." At that moment I felt a chill come over me. I said quietly as I dropped my head, "O shit." I wanted someone else to go with me at that point, but I knew Jim would say Do it or quit like he has so many time before.

We were close to the bull now, and I started to twirl my rope in the air as I asked Tom if he was ready. He said, "No problem." As my rope came down around the bull's head, I quickly wrapped my end around the saddle horn and pulled my horse back to pull the bull free. I hollered loudly at Tom, "Throw Your rope, Now". Suddenly a chill of terror ran through my body; I wanted to cry, but I was too scared and angry at the time.

Tom was pulling his horse back. He rode out of the pen leaving me alone with the half dazed bull. It took only seconds for the bull to come to his senses and quickly plunge to the end of the rope. I desperately tried to loosen the rope from the saddle horn, but the bull was too quick. The rope had tightened caching my hand in it, and instant pain shot up my arm like someone slugged me with a two-by-four. I could feel something warm running from my wrist. It was spurting blood. The ragged rope had ripped my wrist open. I screamed frantically for help, but got only laughter from Jim and Tom. They must have thought that it looked funny. In just seconds which felt like minutes, the bull snorted as he charged back at my horse and me, and quickly ran around us wrapping the rope around both the horse and me. The bull lunged away from us pulling the saddle and me to the side of the horse. The pain was tremendous. My hand was still trapped in the rope with blood spurting from it, and the rope was so tight around my waist it felt like it was part of my flesh. In just a few more seconds the horse and I went down, and the bull drug us through the rank smelling manure and over the ragged rocks. I knew the rocks tore through my clothing and gashed my leg. The manure was burning my flesh as if someone set me on fire. I continued to struggle with the rope trying to free us from the bull. Finally I freed the rope from the horn, and the rope whizzed away from us leaving rope burns on my hands, waist and on the horse. When I pulled my foot free from the saddle, Toni jumped up. I was still on the ground; I couldn't get up because I was in so much pain. Nobody dared to come in the pen now. The bull was crazy with pain and fear. He would have attacked anyone.

I called in a quiet sobbing voice for Toni; he limped over to me with his head down whinnying. I could tell from the sad sound that he was hurt badly. I looked up and saw that blood was flowing down his front legs. I softly tapped his leg and he knelt down so that I could grab his mane. As Toni got up, I held onto his mane and he dragd me to safety.

As I crawled under the gate, Tom just stared at me with a blank look on his face. Jim had the gall to ask me if I could finish out the day. He said, "There are cattle that had to be treated today not tomorrow." I replied as I looked up at his half-cocked smile, and said with my teeth clinched, " Go - to - hell --- I quit!"

Toni was sent to Wisconsin and put to pasture because he couldn't work as a cutting horse any longer. My back was severely damaged, and I can no longer work at any job related to using my back. If I hadn't been hurt that day I would still be working for Ben Cattle Company in Lam, Illinois.