Horse names on the ranch are pretty…plain. Obvious. Creativity-nill. For example: the red horse is called Red. The small bay horse is Little Bay, while his larger brother was Big Bay. Or now we are plain and lazy by naming Pally, the yellow horse. Short for Palomino.
And then there is Grullo. The ancient 28 year old mousy colored gelding. (Side note: Grullo is the Spanish word for the Sandhill Crane, a soft gray bird that migrates from Mexico to Canada and pit stops in Nebraska.)
Newt’s dad broke Grullo to ride; Grullo taught Newt, his brothers, and many young men to bulldog starting back in the 1980’s and 1990’s, but now he is 153 horse years and should have been sold a long time ago. If you think ranchers’ decisions are based on money alone, there is a Grullo on every rancher’s place. An old horse, ancient cow, or wrinkled wife… haha. (Kinda sorta kidding about the wife.)
Instead Grullo is the nanny horse to the freshly weaned colts, who terribly miss their mommies and need wisdom from an older horse. Grullo and the colts were out in the pasture and starting to get thin on the nonexistent grass from the nonexistent rains.
We went out in the pickup, as it was too cold to take the Mule with ReeRee. There’s the brumby herd!
The dogs were “helping”. The dogs failed to bring the colts to the gate, so Newt got out the bucket of pellets and shook it.
Grullo knew what that sound was and came right up. The other colts came up because Grullo did. Peer pressure works, man.
In his manly, silent way, Newt is telling Grullo he loves him by the pile of pellets on the ground. As horses and cows age, their teeth decline and it is hard for them to eat and “put on weight”. Nothing says love like pellets that are soft and easy to chew.
Enough mushy talk, time to chase the horses out the gate.
Out the gate horses. Horses? Anyone listening?
The dogs stop to eat snow. PPPOORKCHOP! GET BYE! (Newt doesn’t bother to yell at Torpedo.) BUSTER- BACK HERE!
Finally the horses are heading the right direction and speed out the gate.
Grullo still proves he has the stuff and stays ahead of the youngsters.
Two pastures later, five colts, Grullo, and 2 ½ dogs end up in the corral.
Grullo was the first to the bunk to eat. The colts just milled around for a while before they figured out what was going on. Yummy pellets and hay to make it through the winter for the teenage horses and toothless Grullo.
A new bunch of colts will be weaned soon and Grullo will have a new herd to teach. Even at 29 years old (182 horse years), he will always have a job here at the ranch.