Years ago, I was talking to a computer-tech friend on the phone. He was having me do some things on my computer that was making me very nervous. I told him so, "This is worse than backing a horse trailer in front of a bunch of cowboys." That line really threw him - probably because he was not a cowboy and had probably never backed a horse trailer. But those of you who have, know what I'm talkin' about. It is one thing to back a trailer when you have all the room and time in the world and no one is watching. It is another thang, when you have a bunch of people (especially cowboys) watching. It's a matter of being a real cowgirl.
The link above takes you to a story about my friend Lynda and being a real cowgirl. For those of you who do not want to read old stories, I'll give you the gist. Lynda and I used to tease each other about being a "real cowgirl." Whenever a challenge of some sort came up, one of us would say, "A real cowgirl could do that." Whether it was backing a trailer or something as simple as opening a jar of pickles. If one one of us was struggling with the jar, the other would say, "A real cowgirl could open that jar." Then we would both laugh. But it was competition, too - a challenge between friends - a cowgirl thang.
Now, Toby can back a trailer just about anywhere. Yesterday, we needed to get some things out of the storage unit. Toby backed the horse trailer/moving van across a busy street and all the way down the storage unit alley to our unit without even a bobble. I'm not sure I could have done it without several tries. I'm way out of practice. Back in NM, we had a Chevy shortbed truck with a bumper pull four-horse trailer. I could put that baby anywhere first try, but that was then. After loading the trailer yesterday, I did bring it home and back it up to the house without any problems. Of course, no one was around to watch me.
The other day one of my young art girls came with her dad to borrow our horse trailer. Since she is learning to drive, her dad had her driving the truck and was making her back up to the trailer. Being the kind of teacher that would throw you in the lake make you swim, he got out of the truck and told her to back it to the trailer - no instruction. Although that teaching method can work, it also makes you want to punch someone in the nose. There she was in the fading sunlight having to back up to a trailer with all of us watching - my heart went out to her. So, I gave her my secret for backing up to the trailer - first time, tried and true - from one cowgirl to another. She did well.
All this trailer talk reminded me of a story from my NM days:
Johnny Mutz is a real cowboy. No, I mean a REAL COWBOY. Johnny is also old time Red River - one of the few true locals left. As you drive out of Eagle Nest, NM, up to Red River, you pass Elizabethtown, an old ghost town. Still standing is the Mutz Hotel (shown in the photo on the link). Johnny's family owned much of the land on that side of the highway and still has a large working ranch there (look for the dragon in the pasture). We once helped out with the spring calf branding on the Mutz ranch - it is a beautiful place. Johnny would be 90+ years old now, and there are lots of stories about Johnny - he is a legend in the area.
One day, the kids and I had been in Red River at the rodeo arena for some event and horseback riding. When it came time to hook up the horse trailer and load up the horses, for some reason, I was all alone. As I started to back the trailer, it started raining. There was no one to help me aim at the trailer, so I did my best and used my secret cowgirl technique. Out of no where, Johnny Mutz came running over to the trailer to give me direction. I was a bit nervous with Johnny watching me, but all he had to do was give me the "stop" signal. I had backed the truck to the trailer dead solid perfect. Johnny was lowering the trailer to the hitch when I jumped out of the truck to join him. With words that I will never forget, in his quiet voice he gave me one of my greatest compliments, "Well, I never knew you'd make a cowgirl." Coming from Johnny Mutz, that meant everything.
This is a picture of Johnny with two of his daughters and his wife, Hank, taken a couple of years ago at Janetta's funeral. It is not how I see Johnny. To me, I will always see him riding his fat appaloosa down Main St. in the Red River 4th of July Parade or stopping by the house to pick up a kid to go work on the ranch - probably 'cause it was a good kid who needed some attention - or picking up the neighbor's dog to work on the ranch - probably 'cause it was a damn good dog.