Sidi J. Mahtrow


The Cutting Horse Contest - Poem by Sidi J. Mahtrow

Old Dan and Ralph had been there before
They and the crowd knew what was in store.
When the announcer gave their name
The applause acknowledged their claim to fame.

Ralph Yarborough led Old Dan
To the center of the ring as was the plan
And raised his Stetson which was his way
Of accepting the challenge of the day.

There in the corner of the arena stood
A group of heifers, wild eyed and up to no good.
Each attempting to crowd behind the others
And avoid the soon to be encounters.

With a huff, Ralph pulled himself up and on
The saddle which creaked and groaned.
There above the herd he sat transfixed
As he and Old Dan eyed the challenge of the mix.

Selecting the best heifer from the group
Would ensure that their score would be a coup.
One that was fleet of foot and smart as well
That would compete in this arena's hell.

A brindled one of no fixed breed
Was the one that Ralph selected for his steed.
A bit smaller that the other ones gathered there
But wary of the attention she found in their stare.

Dan and Ralph seemed to have selected this very one
To challenge the powers of horse and rider soon.
In a moments Ralph had made the choice
By a flick of the reigns at the very most,
Dan accepted his task and moved so steady
To show that he was more than ready.

Neck outstretched, muzzle flared just so
In anticipation of the touch to go.
Eyes in line with those of the heifer
Who met the stare with no seeming bother.

Now ears laid back and a grin with teeth exposed
Was enough to put fear in those
Other heifers assembled there,
But the brindle still showed no fear.

Ralph took a firm grip on the horn
Knowing that his participation
Was like a puppet on a string
Bobbing with the movement of Dan's being.

Yet to those that studied contest such as this
They knew that balance was the final test.
If Ralph misjudged the direction of the thrust
Then Dan's efforts would be a bust.
His swaying could upset the horse and his timing
And cost them in the final judges points a counting.

Old Dan as he had done many times before
Edged toward the brindle and the others there
One could almost see the fire emerging
Like from a dragon's nostrils, surging.

She bolted to the right
Not from fear or from fright
For she had seen a way to escape
From this monster's eerie date.

Of course Dan had expected just such a ploy
As he had set his left foot firmly
So that he could spin on his haunches
And counter the heifer's selfsame launches.

Success. From the group he had separated her
Moving in synchrony in a blur.
As the heifer moved first left and then right
Always trying to find an answer to her plight.

Like a bobble headed doll, Ralph
Moved in unison with the pair.
Never swaying in a wrong direction
As he held on with both hands in anticipation.

Back and forth the contest ebbed and flowed
Like the never ceasing motion of the waves on the shore
As each attempted to break the other's vision
Of what would be the ending of this mission.

Then the heifer did something not expected
She stood her ground and faced Old Dan
Like an injured bull in a matador's ring,
Considering how to rid herself of this mounted thing.

Moving her head to one side in a faked motion,
To see if she could provoke emotion.
This misdirection did not go unheaded.
So when she charged straight ahead
At the horse and rider there,
Old Dan with the wisdom of years
Grinned, some say from ear to ear
And lowered his head ever lower yet
To met the challenger in the contest.

And he with a lunge forward so
Seemed to be welcoming the crashing too.
Who would give was the question
And the answer was soon shown in the direction
That the heifer chose on that final rush
As Old Dan's shoulder took the thrust.

A murmur came from the crowd as they
Rose to their feet in unity
Old Dan had won the day
As the heifer turned and ran away.

She was defeated it was sure
This monster's control she could not endure.
And with a rush she headed away
To the other end of the arena's bay.

Yet there was more drama of this horse and man
For something seemed to be wrong with Old Dan
Was he limping just so,
Perhaps as a result of the heifer's blow?

Damn, came the exclamation
From one of the others in the competition.
Did you see that bit of theatrical show
As the horse seemed to limp even more,
Until the judges votes were cast
And the scores were 9.8 or higher to the last.

Then Ralph dismounted from his horse
And lead Old Dan away with not a bit of remorse.
Who's stepping like a new born colt so pure
Nothing wrong with his legs for sure.

It's just another contest to be won
No matter; twisting the rules of this one.


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Poem Submitted: Monday, December 18, 2006

Poem Edited: Saturday, December 11, 2010


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