My dad’s favorite horse died last week, and things have been unusually calm. Pep was one of those horses that could open every single gate on the ranch unless it was tied in a way that took two hands and strong fingers to undo. Pep’s nickname on the ranch was Hundini and Busy Lips since he was always getting into things.
But all the mischief aside, he was our best horse. He was the first horse my dad ever trained from the begining himself and you could do pretty much any ranch job on him. He had the speed to chase down a runaway cow, the strength to rope off of and drag a cow out of the mud, the gentleness to babysit me when I was younger, and all around intelligence.
When I was six or seven years old, my favorite thing to do was lead the horses around, but I barely came to the top of their legs I was so tiny. My dad found that te best way to keep me happy and out of trouble while he was working on a tractor or fence or something, was to put a piece of twine around old Pep’s neck, and let me lead him round and round the arena. Pep was always very careful to not step on me as he mozied after me as I trotted along on my tiny legs. Sometimes I would just stand there petting his leg and shoulder as I let him nibble on the grass at the edge of the pen. Pep would have his nose almost touching the ground as he followed me around. It must have been an interesting sight for my dad to see his high energy, high headed horse, following his tiny daughter around as gently as an old dog.
In the picture that’s me on Pep. We were branding calves, and the easiest way to do it was for someone to rope the hind legs and drag it up to the fire, and then I would hand my dad one end of my rope, which he looped around the calves front legs. Then I would back Pep up, and we held it tight so that the calf could be branded and vaccinated.