by Ben K. Green
This is one of the books I got at Powell\’s. It\’s not quite as lively and funny as Horse Tradin\’, but I still found it plenty interesting. The author needed work during the winter so he travelled south -horseback of course- to Big Bend country in Texas, across the border into Mexico, and later on to Arizona. All to try and catch wild horses he\’d heard of but nobody seemed sure they were even in the area. Used his smarts to find the mustangs, several different methods to catch them, with the help of some Mexicans in one area, and members of the Yaqui tribe in another, usually individuals who just wandered into his camp and offered to help (for a bit of pay, of course). In some cases he chased down and roped the wild horses, in another instance a local set snares for them, and in a third place Yaqui runners (mostly young girls on foot it turns out) would follow the horses for days until the worn-out animals gladly integrated themselves into Green\’s herd when gently driven towards them. The story rounds out by telling how he moved his growing herd of horses back towards home, dealt with Mexican bandits along the way who tried to extort money out of him, and then ranchers who didn\’t necessarily like him crossing their land. Gradually taming and breaking to ride some of the wild horses as they travelled, traded off a few along the way, and sold the main bunch to a man he knew who supplied them to the government. All through the story, the dependability and skill of his main horse Beauty really stands out. And more than anything, I was intrigued to read of some cures that he came across when in remote areas of the desert- in one case a Mexican treated a horse of snakebite using yucca (called dagger plant in the story), and in another instance an old woman used flour and yeast to grow mold- penicillin!- to treat an infected wound in Green\’s hand (where a mare had bit him). (Interestingly, there\’s another account of someone using yucca to cure a dog of snakebite on this page of a 1920\’s Dog Fancier publication). Oh, there\’s also a few encounters with cougars- he called them \’panther cats\’. Green would kill a young burro to distract the cougars from his horses, which incensed some of the Mexicans with him, who valued the burros just as much as horses, if not more. He actually lost a few helpers over their disagreement on this point.
Rating: 3/5 145 pages, 1972