I Saw Purple Cowboy Crying

C. Reid McLellan
May 30, 2017 · 4 min read

Purple Cowboy and Skipper

It was a beautiful spring Sunday morning at the Quarter Diamond Ranch. I walked out on the North facing gallery and saw Purple Cowboy on the East end looking toward a beautiful sunrise that was backlighting three grazing horses framed by two tall purple flowered Clematis.. I heard faint music fading from somewhere, I didn’t see any speakers. I noticed something on PC’s left cheek. A lone tear rolled gently down his tanned face.

I didn’t know if I should turn around and go back inside or interrupt his reverie. As usual he knew I was there and answered my question before I asked. “I was just listening to Elvis Presley singing Peace in the Valley. I felt his emotion as I felt this peace right here. I was reliving some beautiful moments.” “

“Cowboy, I don’t know if I can write that. A bit syrupy don’t you think?”

He grinned — that damn grin! I can’t tell if its kindness or pity or, that he just genuinely likes me. But I wasn’t about to leave now. I knew a story was coming.

“When I was in a little country high school of long ago I didn’t have too many friends. Oh, I had friends. I was in a group of boys that were some of the best baseball players at the entire school. In the seventh grade we challenged the ninth graders to ball games at recess and won every game. One day we were challenged by the ninth grade to a game at “big recess”. We cocky seventh graders made our own “uniforms” by writing “Seventh Grade Sluggers” and our favorite number on t-shirts with non-washable ink. A big crowd (50 or so) stayed out to watch. And, we suffered our first loss. But, that is another story.

“I was lonely inside. I didn’t have much confidence in myself. None of the “pretty girls” gave me any attention and I figured that the girls that did give me attention were only doing it because no other boy would give them attention. I had a few “dates” supervised by adults and was clumsy, shy and definitely not “suave”. But, I had my cows and horses. I started showing calves from our herd and I was remembering “Skipper”, my first. Skipper was a rawboned, angular horned Herford bull that wasn’t at all what was being selected in show rings at that time. At my first county show I walked into the ring, proud to be with Skipper. I was proud of the work we had done together. He followed my without question and stood square on all four feet when I stopped him. The judge took one look at Skipper and asked my to move “over there” to a corner of the small show ring. Skipper and I stood there as the judge walked the other 7 or 8 bulls, handled each one and placed them in order. He then talked about those bulls and said of Skipper, “and that is an example of what you DON’T WANT”. When he was done the ribbon girl walked over and handed me a red ribbon. I felt like I had a golf ball in my throat. All the other boys showing received either a blue or purple ribbon meaning they were qualified to go on to the district show. I was sad, and though I felt embarrassed, it wasn’t for me. I leaned over and hugged Skipper’s neck and told him, “he didn’t mean it”. I felt sad for me, but angry for Skipper. I thought it would bother Skipper too.

I interrupted Cowboy, “So that’s why you saw to it that I always paid attention to every kid in a show ring when I judged?”

“Yep. I remembered that feeling. And, it would have been easy to stop showing or working with cattle for that matter. But, as I walked out of the ring, a kind county agent came over and shook my hand and congratulated me on my red ribbon.”

“But Sir”, I said, “the judge said…..” –

“Doesn’t matter”, Mr Fowlers interrupted. “You taught Skipper to lead, you bathed him, brushed him and you led him into that ring and let people see what the two of you had done. No one else would have done that for Skipper”

“That was my motivation to keep going and it paid off. That was also a major reason I wanted you to talk to every kid that showed when you judged. When a class was so big that you had to excuse some from the show ring before you could place the top 8 or 10,. I enjoyed the way you put the top animals “in the corner” and worked all of the ones you were going to excuse. Then (and you did this on your own), you called all the kids into a huddle where only they could hear and told them how proud you were that they had brought their animal in the ring.”

When Purple Cowboy finished, I noticed neither of my cheeks were dry. I looked out at the grazing horses, the pretty purple flowers and turned to ask Cowboy what happened with the next calf. But PC was gone (as usual). I just grinned (yep, it’s that same damn grin!) -and enjoyed the peace in my valley.

There is a lot more to this Purple Cowboy. He said he’d tell me the story of Rastes Hero 505, his next show calf and how Rastes helped him experience his first female “love interest”. I don’t want to miss THAT one!! If you don’t want to miss it (and would like to see it here sooner rather than later) click the heart to like it and share it with a friend.

C. Reid McLellan

Written by

Learned from horses & people. Now teach horses & people. As a boy wiggled my fingers to stories in my brain. Not insane, but a creative outlet. Now, I write

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