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Wednesday, December 25, 2013

RANCHO REYES Chapter 12 To Hang or Not to Hang

A Herd of Arabian Horses
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 Juan found Senior and rehearsed the situation to him.  Senior asked Juan; do you believe them?

Juan said, “It sounds like the truth me.”

Senior said, “We will take them with us and we will sort it out when we get to the ranch.”  The horse thieves realized that they were hanging by a thread and if they didn’t cooperate they would be hanging by a rope.

The rain didn’t stop until the next morning and all they had to eat was some jerky they had thrown in their saddle bags and the little food the rustlers had with them.

The ranch hands weren’t in a good mood for they had a seven hour ride ahead of them. By the time the Hacienda came into sight the men were getting testy and hungry.  It had been over a day and a half since they had a good meal.  

After eating a good meal all they wanted was to go to bed and sleep.

Juan saw to it that the rustlers were fed and locked up in a storage room until the morning for he was too tired to question them further this evening.

Barbara and the sisters wanted to see the rustlers and afterward they agreed; “They don’t look so bad.”

Juan upon hearing that decided he would never be able to understand the female mind. The women thought they looked nice and the men wanted to hang them.  

Juan thought, “I better put on an extra guard to keep the women away from them.”

For the next three days Juan asked the men every imaginable question.  He would follow each question with something like “What if or in case of,”

When he got through he knew more that they thought they knew.  Juan filled Senior in on what he found out and what he wanted to do.  

Juan had firmly set in his mind on what he considered to be the recovery of his father’s herd of Arabian horses.  He was expecting to get a little over a hundred of them.

After Senior agreed the first step was to contact the chief of the Mescalero and arrange for transportation thru their land.  After they struck a deal then setting up water stops was next. Finally the last thing was the overpowering the riders who were watching over the herd.

Senior agreed with Juan to let the Rustlers go free if they would help recover the horses.  When faced with a rope the decision was easy to make.

The water wagons and equipment was the first to leave.  Their job was to set up the watering stations and destroy them after the horses had drunk.  Then they would move back to the next one.

After that they retreated to the river they where they were to provide rifle fire if needed.  The next moonlit night they were off.  When they came upon the water troughs they watered the horses and were off again.  

One the third day they reached the herd around midnight.  Two men slipped in among the herd and overpowered the guards.  It only took a few minutes to get the herd moving.  The out riders were tied on their horses and were being led.

By the time the discovery was made it was two days later and impossible to catch up with them.  

As it turned out that they were two hundred mares and about fifty young studs in the herd.  This was far more than they expected so the water had to be rationed.  

While the herd finished crossing the river the Indians collected the last of their promised cattle.  The cattle moved out of sight and the riflemen got into place.  No one ever showed up so no one got hurt in this operation.

The horses were moved north of the Hacienda where they could be watched over and cared for.  The best studs were separated and the rest were Gelded to be sold for riding horses.  A lot of arguing went on about which should be sold and kept.  All of a sudden everyone was an expert on horse flesh.

All Juan was interested in was four of the studs and about seventy five of the mares.  He separated them out from the rest and moved them into a long valley that had plenty of grass and water.

Another feature of the valley was the difficulty to remove in a hurry making it almost impossible to steal them.  

A good number of the mares left were bred to mustangs for cattle horses.

The gelded studs were sold back East to riding stables, and thus all were accounted for.

 To be Continued  


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