Throwing My Loop…
By: Michael Johnson
A SPECIAL DAY
Is there a special day back
there in your mind? Maybe graduation? Perhaps the birth of
a grandchild? Or the moment you realized you were in
love…and that certain someone loved you back? I had one the
other day. A special day; a most special day indeed.
Three months ago, I had a bizarre accident. What
seemed to be a minor scrape turned into a fear-filled
nightmare. After breaking up a fight between two big barn
cats, I was annoyed that the scratches on my arm would be a
nuisance for a couple of weeks. I underestimated the actual
amount of “annoyance” and “nuisance” a great deal. Thirty
days later, my hand was paralyzed. That was when the
orthopedic surgeon said, “I have my doubts you will
regain the use of that hand!”
Later that same evening, my wife and I sat quietly on
the front porch of our farmhouse staring out at the pasture
at dusk. The sunset was so beautiful. Light danced off the
fences, and the surface of the pool down the hill sparkled.
The steers grazed in the pasture. Such peace. Such calm.
And then our eyes found the arena.
Sherry and I fell in love going to ropings. We packed
lunches, we danced, we loved the people, the lifestyle, and
most of all, we loved the world of horses, the world of
roping, and the sights, smells, and sounds of the thing
After buying a new farm, we built fences and barns for
the animals, and at last, we built the arena. No matter how
hot, no matter how hard the work, each day when we finished
we sat on the porch and talked of the time when friends
would come…and we would rope! We laughed at our silliness
of preparing menus for our guests a year in advance, and we
dreamed of the day when they would all come. And now? Now
on this day, we sat on the porch - neither of us looking at
my hand. Neither of us speaking about something we didn’t
want to see and something we didn’t want to hear. That we
would never again be allowed – never have the privilege
again - of roping on Shine and Blue. We didn’t speak much
during that sunset. When the light had faded, she said
quietly, “Maybe he is wrong. We have to pray that he’s
Ninety days later…
The time had come. Or at least it would be here in
a few minutes. Riding Blue in the arena, I kept looking
down the lane from our farm to the adjacent county road.
They would be coming soon…my friends. Coming to rope. And
I was scared to death.
For three months, I not only did what the doctors and
physical therapists said to do to rehab my hand. I did ten
times what they said to do. If they told me to do something
thirty times, I did it three hundred times. The hand did
not heal rapidly, but it did heal. Still so sore I could
hardly stand it, but at least now it would move.
Flexibility, dexterity, and substantial strength had
returned. But could I rope again?
During the past few weeks, I had roped the dummy every
day. Sufficient strength and force had returned. But
roping from Blue’s back would be very different. Scared,
hand hurt like crazy. “Can I dally?” The first truck
and trailer pulled in my driveway. In a short time, several
cowboys – and cowgirls – were all present and accounted
for. “C’mon, Miguel. Let’s see if you can do it,” said
“Uh…no,” I said, “Blue’s not quite warmed up yet, and
uh…I’m going to turn out a couple of pens for all of you
first.” Sherry’s eyes met mine. I knew she was looking to
see if there was fear in my face. There was. She looked
A short time later, I found myself riding Blue in the
box for the first time since the injury. Wondered why I was
doing it. “I’m sixty-three for goodness’ sake. Why am I
doing this? Will I break my hand? Probably look like a
fool in front of all these people. What if I start crying?”
And then I heard…
“Good luck, dear.” Turning, I saw Sherry just outside
the head box.
I looked back at Jerry V. working the chute. Blue was
quivering with excitement.
“Let him out,” I said. Steer came hard and clean – and
the Blue Man came right with him. In the next few moments,
I knew why I was doing it…
Once again, my pony and I were flying through the sky –
me and this fine blue horse the Lord saw fit to let be with
me since the day he was born. Some ten years now we have
been together. In all that time after roping countless
steers, the Blue Man has tried with all his heart on each
and every one. And now I felt his powerful muscles churning
with everything he had to get his daddy to the spot.
“Dere he his, Pop. Blue Man gotcha’ dere. Stick it
on him, Pop!”
Wind in my face, the sound of his feet hitting the
earth, the rope singing in my hand, smell his sweet sweat…
“This is why I do it! This is why I do it.”
Rope shoots from my hand, LOOP GOES ON! “Can I dally?”
YES! Blue scoots to the left, heeler scoops him up…we’re
Half-way down the arena I dismount from Blue. I’m
shaking all over. Everyone is very quiet. Sherry is walking
toward me. Her eyes are shiny…
“Well done,” she says holding on to me.
“I love you,” I said squeezing her back.
“I love you too,” she said.
“I love you too,” I said crying and laughing at the
“Our friends came. We roped,” she said. “It’s a
“Yes,” I said. “A special day.”
Michael heading for the great Sonny Gould
The Rowdy Cow Dog