And then commenced the contest with the bay. The herd had by this time become very sensitive, and it was with great difficulty that Manuel managed to cast his noose over the mare’s head; and, even when this had been accomplished, she seemed disposed to make him all the trouble possible; but, after a long time, he obtained the mastery, and led her out to share the fate of her black companion.
“Now, boys, you’ve got the ponies, what are you going to do with them?” asked I.
“Do with ’em? Why, ride ’em, of course,” answered Hal.
“I’d like to see some one ride mine, before I back her,” remarked Ned.
“And so you shall,” said I. “Come, Manuel, let’s see you ride the bay.”
First obtaining one end of the lasso, which still encircled her neck, he made a turn around a stout post, which enabled him to bring her head so perfectly under his control, that, with comparative ease, he made a loop with his lasso around her lower jaw; then, leading her into the open plain, he vaulted lightly upon her back.
The moment she felt his weight she uttered a scream of rage, and raised herself upright upon her hind legs, standing so admirably poised that Manuel was only able to retain his seat by clinging with both arms around her neck. Unable to rid herself of her burden in this manner, she planted her fore feet firmly on the earth, and elevated her hind legs high in the air with great rapidity and fury, forcing the rider to turn quickly upon her back and clasp his arms tightly around the barrel of her body, bracing his toes against the point of her fore shoulders, and thus rendering futile all her frantic efforts to unseat him.
Apparantly convinced that neither of these methods would relieve her, she stood still for a moment, as if to gather strength for a last, grand, final effort for her freedom; then, bounding like a deer, she dashed furiously over the plain.
Away she sped, Manuel still upon her back, now disappearing for a moment in some ravine, to again come in sight, galloping madly over the swell of the plain, swerving neither to the right nor the left, but once more disappearing, to finally become lost in the distance.
“I’m glad I ain’t on her,” said Ned. “Will she ever come back? If she does, I don’t want to ride her. Didn’t she just fly, though? Do you believe I shall ever be able to manage her?”
“I think perhaps after Manuel gets through with her, you’ll find it easier than you imagine,” was my answer.
“I’d like to ride as well as Manuel,” remarked Hal. “I wonder if all Mexicans ride as nicely as he does.”
“Many do; and there are thousands of Americans in Texas who ride equally well, if they do not surpass him in horsemanship.”
“Then I mean to learn how to do it,” rejoined Hal; “and I won’t be satisfied until I do.”
“You may as well commence now, on your black, Hal. She’s waiting and ready for you,” remarked Ned.