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A Texas Matchmaker

VII. San Jacinto Day
A few days later, when Uncle Lance returned from San Antonio, we had a
confidential talk, and he decided not to send me with the McLeod check to the
San Miguel. He had reasons of his own, and I was dispatched to the Frio instead,
while to Enrique fell the pleasant task of a similar errand to Santa Maria. In order
to grind an axe, Glenn Gallup was sent down to Wilson's with the settlement for
the Ramirena cattle, which Uncle Lance made the occasion of a jovial expression
of his theory of love-making. "Don't waste any words with old man Nate," said he,
as he handed Glenn the check; "but build right up to Miss Jule. Holy snakes, boy,
if I was your age I would make her dizzy with a big talk. Tell her you're thinking of
quitting Las Palomas and driving a trail herd yourself next year. Tell it big and
scary. Make her eyes fairly bulge out, and when you can't think of anything else,
tell her she's pretty."
I spent a day or two at the Booth ranch, and on my return found the Las Palomas
outfit in the saddle working our horse stock. Yearly we made up new _manadas_
from the two-year-old fillies. There were enough young mares to form twelve
bands of about twenty-five head each. In selecting these we were governed by
standard colors, bays, browns, grays, blacks, and sorrels forming separate
_manadas,_ while all mongrel colors went into two bands by themselves. In the
latter class there was a tendency for the colors of the old Spanish stock,--
coyotes, and other hybrid mixtures,--after being dormant for generations, to crop
out again. In breaking these fillies into new bands, we added a stallion a year or
two older and of acceptable color, and they were placed in charge of a trusty
vaquero, whose duty was to herd them for the first month after being formed. The
Mexican in charge usually took the band round the circuit of the various
ranchitas, corralling his charge at night, drifting at will, so that by the end of the
month old associations would be severed, and from that time the stallion could
be depended on as herdsman.
In gathering the fillies, we also cut out all the geldings three years old and
upward to break for saddle purposes. There were fully two hundred of these, and
the month of April was spent in saddle-breaking this number. They were a fine lot
of young horses, and under the master eye of two perfect horsemen, our
_segundo_ and employer, every horse was broken with intelligence and
humanity. Since the day of their branding as colts these geldings had never felt
the touch of a human hand; and it required more than ordinary patience to
overcome their fear, bring them to a condition of submission, and make
serviceable ranch horses out of them. The most difficult matter was in
overcoming their fear. It was also necessary to show the mastery of man over the
animal, though this process was tempered with humanity. We had several
circular, sandy corrals into which the horse to be broken was admitted for the first
saddling. As he ran round, a lasso skillfully thrown encircled his front feet and he
came down on his side. One fore foot was strapped up, a hackamore or bitless