Laurie arrived in
Fort Worth from Oklahoma, and we went to a pleasant Italian restaurant on Camp
Bowie Boulevard called Sardine's, where she described every good horse she had
seen in Ardmore, and I described every good horse I had seen in Sweetwater.
horse?" I asked.
a two-dollar pistol. Did you have any problems?"
enjoy our meal," I said. She seemed to be regarding me, twirling her pasta
fork in the air and sizing me up. Cutting is a sport for the whole family.
assigned to ride on Nov. 26, the first day of the Futurity. The day before,
Will Rogers Coliseum was surrounded by trucks and horse trailers with license
plates from across the nation. I walked in and looked around the coliseum's
spacious interior, a venerable place to cutters. The bleachers were empty, the
judges' boxes untenanted. I sat down close to the rail and remembered a night
13 years earlier, when Buster had won the Futurity on Little Peppy, "the
clearest-minded colt to ever look through a bridle," he said. I had never
seen anything like it in my life, the mercurial speed of that young stallion,
his impact on a coliseum filled with people who had nothing on their minds but
a love of cutting horses. It would seem like a privilege to ride my young mare
onto that sand—win, lose or draw.
Laurie had a nice
controlled run that assured her of a slot in the second go-round. I couldn't
help but notice how quietly she cut her cows and how lightly she sat on her
quick little horse. I wouldn't work until the next day, so I watched and tried
to make myself memorize individual cattle in the herd.
had a fine run on a horse Buster had trained. Heather is a high school senior
who has grown up on the 1¼-million-acre King Ranch in South Texas, where her
father is in charge of the cattle. She is a natural rider and a remarkably
serious individual. I would have been quite pleased if Heather had won the
non-pro class and its $35,454 first prize. I even had generous thoughts about
Laurie getting to the finals or even winning. So many horses were making their
way through the go-rounds, 165 in the non-pro alone, that no one really cared
what happened to you until you did enough to suggest that it would be a shame
if you failed.
there was a feeling of interne scrutiny; and indeed the five judges,
sequestered in their towers, clipboards on their knees, were looking at the
riders very closely. You felt terrific internal pressure to cut the right cows
and ride your horse well.