John Grady’s last words in Chapter I are that he wants to stay at La Purisima hacienda for “about a hundred years.” The hacienda is a large ranch covering about 26,000 acres in the Mexican state of Coahuila. The area has desert as well as grasslands and is edged on the west by the Sierras, where some elevations are as high as 9,000 feet. Natural springs and lagunas, or lakes, provide adequate water. La Purisima is one of the few haciendas left in Mexico where the owner, Don Hector (also called Rocha) a descendant of the original owner, still lives on the estate. His wife lives in Mexico City, and he flies an airplane back and forth between residences. Don Hector runs a thousand head of cattle and loves horses. He has a pack of silver greyhounds and brings friends to go hunting. Rawlins observes that they have no guns, and John Grady thinks they are going to hunt coyotes with ropes. Don Hector is a gentleman sportsman. The greyhounds for hunting and the observation that the men are probably hunting coyotes with ropes shows that his relation to nature, and thus, the horses, is different from John Grady’s. John Grady would hunt a coyote if it were necessary because the coyote was killing calves, for example. Don Hector, on the other hand, entertains himself with and uses creatures for sporting purposes.
John Grady and Rawlins begin working, branding, marking, castrating, and dehorning cattle. On the third day, the vaqueros, or Mexican cowboys, bring in a small herd of wild colts from the mesa. They are of varied size, conformation, and color and spook easily. John Grady guesses that they have never seen human beings, and Rawlins says that the horses are worthless. John Grady argues with him and says that there are a few good ones. He points out the head on one horse. Rawlins says, “You used to be awful particular about horses.” John Grady nods, and replies, “Well, I aint forgot what they’re supposed to look like.” They both think that the one thing going for the horses is that they have not been broken by the Mexicans, not because they do not come to respect some of the vaqueros, but because they know that a horse broken incorrectly is harder to fix than starting with a very wild, but untouched, horse.
John Grady suggests that they try to break these sixteen horses in four days. His idea is to end up with “just halfway decent greenbroke horses.” They will sideline the horses, which requires a lot of rope (see the following Analysis section for more information on the methods of breaking horses). Armando, one of the ranch workers, has reported that there are maybe four hundred head of horses on the mountain — medium bloods, or quarterhorses. John Grady observes the horses and suggests that the bloodlines come from some famous horses sold from Texas into Mexico.
John Grady and Rawlins go to the kitchen and talk to the manager. He doesn’t think they will be able to break these horses using this method, but he does not forbid them to do it. So, the next day, they begin the hobbling and sacking of the horses. Rawlins assists John Grady, who says, “No such thing as a mean colt.” John Grady floats a gunnysack over the horse’s face and rubs the sack over it, all the while talking to the horse. These gunnysacks carry John Grady’s scent because he slept on them the night before. Rawlins asks, “What good do you think it does to waller all over a horse thataway?” John Grady’s reply is, “I dont know. I aint a horse.”
Because they have little equipment, except ropes, they make hackamore bridles. They begin at daybreak, and, by dark, John Grady has ridden eleven of the horses. By the end of the second day, John Grady and Rawlins have both ridden all the horses.
On the first morning, the Mexican cowboys come to watch and, by the afternoon, women and children have also gathered. By the fourth morning, John Grady is ready to ride one of the horses out of the pen. In the afternoon, he rides the grullo that Rawlins had chosen as the wildest of the bunch. On the ride, the young girl Alejandra, the daughter of Rocha, rides by him on her black Arabian horse. John Grady wants to speak but doesn’t. That evening the manager and another hand come to inspect the horses. Antonio, of the vaqueros, rides two of the horses. At supper, they receive even more deference from the other vaqueros than they had on the first day.
Three days later they are sent into the mountains with three young Mexican cowboys and an old man who cooks for them. They each have a string of three horses to carry equipment. Their job is to hunt and bring back more wild horses. The old man fought in the Mexican Revolution and loves horses. He talks to them in the evening about the souls of horses.
After three weeks of work they have eight mares trapped in a stone ravine made to hold the horses. When they return, John Grady meets with Don Hector, who says he has heard that John Grady understands horses. John Grady’s only reply is, “I been aroun em some.” Don Hector chats with him about John Grady’s age and the age of Rawlins and observes that John Grady is the leader. John Grady says, “We dont have no leaders. We’re just buddies.” Then they discuss horses over coffee, and Don Hector says that he wants to breed his own special quarterhorses from these wild mustang mares, with a stallion he has purchased, sight unseen, at an auction in Lexington, Kentucky. In their discussion, it is revealed that both Don Hector and John Grady think that the sire and the mare are of equal importance in producing a good horse, whereas many breeders think the sire is most important.
Because of the impression John Grady made upon Don Hector, he is to move from the bunkhouse to his own room in the barn and oversee the breeding of the horses. He discusses this with Rawlins, because he is worried about the breakup of the two buddies. Rawlins tells him it is an opportunity he can’t ignore.
John Grady moves into the barn, built in the English style, with a cupola; the only other person living in the barn is a very old man who comes out the first day, looks at John Grady’s horse, and says nothing. Later, he sees the old man pulling the cinchstrap on the black Arabian horse of Alejandra, who turns to look at John Grady and says, “Good afternoon.” She gets on the horse and rides out of the barn.
That night, as John Grady is drifting off to sleep, he thinks about horses and the open country, especially wild horses. He thinks about these horses who have never seen a human being and “yet in whose souls he would come to reside forever.”
He and Rawlins and two vaqueros go into the mountains to look for horses again, and they talk on their journey. Rawlins thinks the girl is a fancy sort and John Grady tells him she’s not. John Grady has “readyrolls” he has gotten from La Vega, the nearby town. These rolls are a treat, because they are yeast rolls from a bakery, ready to eat or ready to reheat. Most of the time, they have been eating flat tortillas. After returning from the mountains, they go into the town on Sunday, riding horses they’ve been working on. They race each other on the horses, and, even when they exchange horses, John Grady wins. Their hair has been cut with sheepshears at the hacienda, and now they go to a store to buy some new clothes. John Grady convinces his friend to buy some black boots. They also get gloves, which they need in order to protect their hands.
The second half of Chapter II begins with a dance at a grange hall, which John Grady attends with Rawlins and a boy named Roberto from the ranch, at Alejandra’s invitation. They share a small bottle of mescal. Alejandra is dancing with a tall boy from the San Pablo ranch. When she dances with John Grady, he finds her hands small and her waist slight. She speaks schoolbook English.
He rides home from the dance alone, and a fast-moving car passes him, causing his horse to get skittish. Left in the dust, he thinks the horse has done well, and he tells it so.
The stallion from Kentucky arrives after a long and complex trip made by Antonio, Armando’s brother, who speaks no English. John Grady inspects the horse with Rocha and asks permission to ride the stallion. Then, for several days the two of them discuss the mares in the corral, John Grady arguing certain horses’ merits. Rocha is the one who makes the final decision on which horse to breed with the stud, but he listens to John Grady’s opinions. John Grady works with Antonio to breed the horses and conspires with him to tell Rocha the stallion needs to be ridden to keep it manageable, when in truth John Grady likes the girl to see him riding the powerful chestnut. He rides it to the end of the laguna and talks to it in Spanish, telling it he is the commander. Sometimes, on these early morning rides, he sees Alejandra riding.
John Grady starts to ride the horse bareback, just after breeding, and one day, coming out of the barn this way, he spots Alejandra on her Arab down the road. She stops and turns, asking to ride the stallion.
John Grady does what Alejandra asks and takes her Arabian horse back to Armando’s, while she rides the stallion alone. Before she takes another trip to Mexico City, he sees her riding down from the mountains in the rain, and, to John Grady, she looks real and yet also like a dream.
While Alejandra is away, her great-aunt asks John Grady to play chess with her. They play on a board of circassian walnut and birdseye maple inlaid with pearl. The chess pieces are made of ivory and black horn. John Grady plays well against the old woman. They play late, and when tea is served he takes his black. On refusing the cake, crackers, and cheese, he says he’d “have crazy dreams eatin this late.” She then discusses dreams with him and tells how she lost the last two fingers on her handin a shooting accident, and she comments on the scar on his face and guesses, correctly, that he got it from a horse. She says, “Scars have the strange power to remind us that our past is real.”
She informs him that Alejandra will be at the ranch for the summer, after a two-week stay in Mexico City. Then she talks about convention and the position of women, especially in Latin society. She tells him that she is the one who will get to say, and he responds that she didn’t have to invite him just to tell him that. But she has the last word with, “It was because of that I almost didn’t invite you.”
In the next scene, he is discussing that evening with Rawlins, when they are camped under the stars. Rawlins asks him if he has eyes for the girl and the spread. To the latter John Grady does not know, but of Alejandra he says he can talk to her. Rawlins warns him that just because Rocha likes him doesn’t mean he wants him for his daughter. Rawlins is worried they will get run off from the place. Also, John Grady is not sure if he has given his word to the great-aunt about what she asked. Here again there are class and culture clashes. The great-aunt has not asked John Grady anything specifically. She has said, “Here a woman’s reputation is all she has.” She has said, “I am the one who gets to say.” Most of what she says implies some threat and a desire to protect Alejandra. But exactly what she wants either of the young people to do is quite unclear. The scene ends with John Grady saying she didn’t have to invite him and the great-aunt says, “You’re quite right.” No wonder John Grady is confused and Rawlins is irritated.
Five nights later, Alejandra comes to John Grady’s room to talk. They start to take night rides together, he on the stallion, she on her black Arab. One night, he leaves her, takes his clothes off, and goes swimming in the lake. She joins him. This begins their affair. She goes to his room every night for nine nights, and then she returns to Mexico City.
Rocha invites John Grady to play billiards in a room that was formerly the chapel for the hacienda. Rocha explains some of his views on the Revolution, the Maderos, and, thus, the great aunt’s ideas. Later, John Grady imagines Alejandra in his room repeating the words he’d first said to her, “Tell me what to do. I’ll do anything you say.” But she is gone. Next, he is invited to Antonio’s brother’s house for dinner on Sunday. When he tells Antonio he intends to reveal to Alejandra his heart when she returns, he discovers that she has already returned.
He continues to work with the mares, and, two days later, he and Rawlins are in the mountains again. One night, three greyhounds come into their camp, but then they vanish and there are no other sounds.
After their return to the ranch, they are arrested in the middle of the night and taken on their horses to the north.
Chapter II begins with Rawlins and John Grady working at La Purisima, and it appears they’ve found their paradise: jobs they love, a beautiful setting, a hacienda owner who is enlightened and loves horses, and a beautiful young girl who rides around on her black Arabian saddlehorse. John Grady is quickly promoted to breeder after their amazing feat of breaking sixteen wild mustangs in four days. The great-aunt of the girl invites John Grady to play chess, and he excels at that, too. Then the inevitable love affair, initiated by the dark, passionate girl, begins. But at the end of the chapter the two young men are dragged away at daybreak in handcuffs.
What happened to their almost perfect world? In the interview with Rocha, after the breaking of the horses and when John Grady is being considered for the horse breeding position, John Grady is asked if it was just the two of them who rode from Texas. For some unknown reason, John Grady, who is so honest about his abilities and in general very honorable, lies. He denies that Blevins had been with them. In the first chapter, Rawlins repeatedly warned John Grady that Blevins was trouble and that he would always reappear, but they have not seen him since the split-up after they retrieved Blevins’ bay horse. So the chapter ends on this terrible unraveling, and the reader is eager to read on to find out for sure what has gone wrong and why Rawlins won’t even look at his friend, John Grady.
But in the middle of the chapter is the heart of what the novel is really about — horses. The adventure, the love interest, the family histories, even the Mexican Revolution play second string to the horse lore and stories.
First, we read long scenes in which John Grady and Rawlins break the sixteen mustangs. The animals are so wild that John Grady says they do not smell like horses, they smell like wild animals. The horses are a varied lot in color, and some are spotted horses, or paints, which is reminiscent of Faulkner’s short story “Spotted Horses.” But here the boys are not pulling a con to sell the ponies; they are going to make them into decent riding or work horses for the ranch.
They use a method called sidelining to break the horses, which involves hobbling the horses so that when they kick and buck they fall down. In traditional bronc busting, a couple of cowboys catch and hold down a horse, putting a saddle on it. Then a brave “bronc-peeler,” as Blevins had claimed to be, gets on and rides the bucking horse until it tires out and starts to run straight. This method of breaking horses can be witnessed at some rodeos where a “wild horse” division is put on. The work is dangerous, and, using this method, a totally unbroken horse is not really rideable for several weeks.
When the sidelining method is used (the method used by John Grady and Rawlins), a horse can be “greenbroke” in several days. The hobbling of the horse teaches it very quickly to stand without kicking. The horse also learns to walk without humping and dipping and lowering its head in preparation for a good buck. Simpler methods of sidelining exist than the method John Grady uses. Some of those methods involve just tying the back foot to the headpiece; another method ties the horse’s neck around to the side. But John Grady does not have a lot of time, so he ties up all their legs with loose slipknots so that he can more quickly get these very unruly horses to stand and walk quietly.
The second part of John Grady’s method is the sacking out. He drapes one of the gunnysacks he has slept on over the horse’s face. For fifteen minutes, he rubs the horse with this sack and talks to it. He does this to build trust in the horse and so that the horse is less jittery about saddle blankets or the saddles that will be used on it. After this complex preparation, the first time John Grady gets on one of these horses, it just stands still, to the amazement of all the onlookers. Rawlins teases him that he is ruining the show, that this is not what everyone came to see. Of course, the audience expects John Grady to be bucked off right away.
John Grady is a precursor of the recent whisperers who have taken the horse gentler tradition and developed it into a third method of training horses, which has become popular in recent years, used by Monty Roberts and the movie The Horse Whisperer, which was very loosely based on Roberts’ experience with a difficult, injured horse. This method involves going in a ring with a wild horse and bending down on one’s haunches and very quietly getting eye contact with the horse. The trainer waits until the horse comes to him. Visual techniques are used to tame the horse, cues Roberts learned from watching horses. When the horse insists on a behavior the trainer does not want, the trainer, using the “whisperer” or visual technique, turns away from the horse until it starts again on the desired behavior. This shunning seems to work and is what mares use to control their young colts. The trainer also talks softly to the horse to encourage its trust and good behavior. Demonstrations of this method are put on all across the United States today. The current attention paid to this method does not give the credit it should to the long line of “amansadores” and gentlers, men like John Grady, who always use these methods of communing with horses. We see this when John Grady talks to the horses and in how they respond to his treatment.
The horse scenes add detail and interest to the story and provide a setting for the development of John Grady’s character. The first time John Grady and Rawlins go into the mountains to catch horses, the old man who accompanies them recounts his own history and how he fought in the cavalry where his father and brothers had died. He tells them of the horses killed under him and how horses love war, just like men do. He says the souls of horses mirror the souls of men, explaining that if you could understand the soul of a horse, one could understand all horses, but that to understand human beings is probably only an illusion. John Grady also is tutored in the ways of horses by Antonio, the one who helps with the breeding of the mares. Antonio, too, has many ideas about horses and tells John Grady he never lies to the stallion.
The section of the chapter that deals with the breeding of the horses and John Grady’s riding of the chestnut stallion leads to the love affair with Alejandra.
John Grady loves to look over the wild mares and pick out the best ones for the shape of their heads, the strength of their legs, and the shape of their hindquarters. He dreamed of producing the best horses for cutting or cattle work, for endurance, and, hopefully, for beauty. What becomes clear from this chapter that highlights the “pretty horses” is that John Grady is exceptionally talented with horses. He rides better than most, as Rawlins has pointed out before, he understands horses, as Rocha observes, and he can very successfully work with horses. Of course, his love of horses is undisputed. He is only 16 years old, but he knows more about the history of horses than most of the other characters in the book, with the exception of Rocha, perhaps. We realize John Grady learned much of this from his grandfather and that during World War II, with other men and his father gone to war, he was, as a young boy, his grandfather’s main cowboy.
If the commonality between characters and cultures is a love of horses, the clash of cultures and individuals can also be revealed through the horses. When John Grady says the one thing the wild horses have going for them is that they have not been ridden by the Mexicans, and when he refers to those “damned Mexican ringbits,” the reader may wonder if a certain prejudice is being called up. For background on this, an analysis of American western-style riding techniques versus English and Spanish techniques may be helpful.
The “damned ringbit” referred to is a spade bit with a ring that fits around the lower jaw of the horse. It is a very cruel bit by United States western standards. But the experienced, old vaqueros use the ringbit this way: First, they train a young horse with a bosalea, a rope noose that gently fits over the nose but has knots that can put pressure on nerves under the horse’s chin and at the side of the mouth. Then, using a second set of reins, they attach the ringbit. When riding the horse, they use the bosalea reins first to correct the horse. If the horse misbehaves, they then use the reins of the ringbit. The ringbit’s main flaw is that, when it is used with a heavy hand, it can break the horse’s jaw.
This double-rein method is similar to the double reins used in English riding where the rider uses a tighter double rein to control and signal the horse to change lead or gait. In Western riding, the horse is almost entirely guided with voice commands, leg pressure, and neck reining — where the rein is gently laid on the horse’s neck to get it to turn right or left. The well-trained Western horse, even in roping competitions, needs no pulling on the bit. The bit is there only for control if the horse should, because of some unexpected happening, do the wrong thing. Then a little pull gets the animal back on course.
The difference in philosophy is that in Western riding, horse and rider are partners who know the job to be done and work together to do it. The horse takes its cue from the rider and vice versa. In English riding, the rider is more the controller, the one in command. The Spanish riding technique is a combination of these two styles.
The Americans and Mexicans have different training techniques and, perhaps, different philosophies about civilizing the horses. Of these three methods, none is superior or inferior.
The scene in which John Grady and Rocha play billiards, John Grady having told Don Hector that he plays “pool,” tells us more about the attitudes of different cultures. Don Hector says that it is a very French idea “that people can be improved in their character by reason.” He continues, “Beware, gentle knight. There is no greater monster than reason.” He tells John Grady that this idea is a Spanish one, the idea of Quixote. Here it is reason versus feeling, the classic view versus the romantic.
And where does John Grady stand in all of this? McCarthy’s work proposes, perhaps, that Americans are neither creatures of reason nor romance, but survivors who risk much and can take actions that appear romantic, but that, all the while, they are committed to their own ideas and ideals; the European tradition is often more deductive and traditional, not as ready to leap to the new, as the American individualist often does. John Grady’s work with the horses reveals that he uses reason and control to tame the animals — in the sidelining method. But he has a habit of talking to them and soothing them, and that comes from another idea about nature — that humans can understand horses, can commune with these creatures for better cooperation. This idea is a more romantic one. But it is the goal John Grady is focused on — to get these horses greenbroke — and he uses all his knowledge, his experience, and any technique that he thinks may work. He is eclectic and creative in how he approaches a problem. This is the American way — solve the problem and forget the rulebook or the blueprints. These American attributes come from the whole history of the United States: the American Revolution, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the entire struggle for equality, and the development of the frontier. John Grady is definitely a classic American hero, in all his sensibilities.
Another clash of culture is revealed when the great-aunt plays chess with John Grady. He is a worthy opponent and she admires his abilities. But, in conversation, she discusses the role of women in society: “This is another country. Here, a woman’s reputation is all she has.” She adds, “There is no forgiveness. For women. A man may lose his honor and regain it again. But a woman cannot.” John Grady tells her he doesn’t think this is fair, indicating the importance that fairness plays in his way of looking at the world. But she dismisses that with a wave of her hand and tells him, “It is a matter of who must say.” In other words, power is more important than right. John Grady, Quioxotian in his idealism, understands what she says, but he is not about to change his ideas.
Alejandra is a young woman obviously rebellious like John Grady. She is perhaps even more brash than he is, for it is she who initiates their love affair. But this liberated endeavor is to be allowed by the great-aunt. The great-aunt is determined that Alejandra will not be unhappy as she was in her youth. The reader might also wonder if, because the aunt had an unhappy youth, she does not wish to see Alejandra happy in love — something that would only remind her of what she did not have when she was young.
Even though the great-aunt has lived a life of sophistication and ease, teaching in Europe and living, apparently, where she pleases, she has not been able to have a satisfying life. In her short-sightedness, she is determined to mold Alejandra to her likeness, to exercise the control over Alejandra’s life that she never had over her own. Unfortunately, she does not have the wisdom to see that happiness is not always found through reason and control, and it certainly is not something the elders can give to the young. In contrast, we see the portrait of John Grady’s mother, the American, a generation between the great-aunt and Alejandra, living a liberated life of sorts. Whether she is happy or not we do not know. But she is allowed to make her own way, neither her father nor her husband forbidding or preventing her from making her own choices.
Obviously, the gender issues are not solved in this novel, but, although only a minor theme, these issues do affect John Grady’s life. His unusual youth, partly abandoned by his natural mother, and yet well cared for by the old Abuela and Luisa, played a part in shaping his attitudes. The ideas he developed about the position of women in society certainly affect the outcome of his romance at La Purisima. Strangely, Don Hector laments that he is only a father and will not have a say in what Alejandra must do. In Spanish culture, as related to European Mediterranean culture, women have the power in the house and men have total power in the public arena. This separation between public and private life is different from the traditions in the United States. Also, the fact that Mexico is a Catholic country and the United States a Protestant one by tradition, makes the position of women in the two countries quite different. As in all cultures, before women’s rights, women manipulate and use what wiles they have to get what they want. The great-aunt is interesting in light of these observations, because she has not been able to really create or direct her own life to her own satisfaction at all. She has been bound by tradition and sent to Europe. Contrast this with John Grady’s mother, of whom no one is very fond, but she has led her own life and made her own way in the theatrical world. John Grady, thus, coming from another culture, does not understand that, in the end, Alejandra will not run away with him. He doesn’t think that the situation is fair, and, far from his point of view, he thinks it is old-fashioned. But he does not yet comprehend how different his history is from Alejeandra’s. He is drawn to Spanish culture, but he is American.
Comparison and contrast of the human relationships and the horses’ situations make for interesting insight here. The youths, John Grady and Alejandra, are passionately in love and John Grady is working with the hot-blooded horses. But the adults who are inspecting and observing the youths do not seem to take as much care with their human futures as John Grady does with the horses. When the great-aunt shows him an unusual chess move, he says he’d like to see it again, but of course she will never invite him back; she has only looked him over to certify her preconceived notions of what she wants for Alejandra. The father, who is so careful with his animals, takes no action on his daughter’s behalf. There is no education, no training for the young people from the most educated adults. Only the old vaqueros try to impart some wisdom to John Grady. And is anyone trying to impart any helpful knowledge to Alejandra? No wonder their love story is doomed like Romeo and Juliet’s.
Hacendados (Spanish) head or owner of the hacienda.
Bolson flat land.
Hacienda de Nuestra Senora de la Purisima Concepcion (Spanish) Hacienda of Our Lady of the Pure Conception.
Roan a horse that has white hair evenly or sprinkled across its body so that its coat has a mottled appearance; usually red roan or blue roan when mixed with chestnut or black.
Dun a buckskin-colored horse. A true buckskin in decades past was a buttermilk-colored horse with a complete dark dorsal stripe and black points. (Now this sometimes refers to a dun.) The dun color comes from yellow hairs on dark skin. A dun can also have red points.
Bay a brown-colored horse with shades ranging from red and yellow to brown. Points (mane and tail) are black.
Paint commonly called Indian ponies. These are horses with large irregular patches of black and white or brown and white. Variations are designated pinto, calico, or piebald. Not to be confused with Appaloosa, which is an American breed with distinctive spotting. Roans, duns, bays, and paints are colorings of quarterhorses, although paints now have their own special registry. Originally registered as a color, now as a breed in the United States. In Spain, these horses are called mesquitoes and are special to the king.
greenbroke horses horses barely rideable and not yet completely trained. “Green,” not matured yet.
Sideline a method of tying up the horses to make them stop kicking and bucking (see the preceding Analysis section).
Mexican ringbit a Mexican spade bit with a ring under the mouth; very hard on a horse’s mouth.
media sangres (Spanish) medium bloods, or quarterhorses. Horses can be warm bloods or cold bloods as well. Cold bloods are European draft or work horses. Arabians, Barbs, and thoroughbreds are hot bloods.
Traveler-Ronda line Traveler-Ronda was a famous 19th-century Spanish stud, often referred to as a Mexican sand pony; he came from the New Mexico/west Texas region and created one of the Texas foundation lines. He was dun colored.
Amansadores (Spanish) horse trainers, but very special ones who talk softly to wild animals. This is a romantic west.
Amobs (Spanish) both.
Hay dieciseis caballos en el potrero. (Spanish) There are sixteen horses in the corral.
Podemos amansarlos en cuatro dias. (Spanish) We will be able to break them in four days.
Bosalea (Spanish) called a bosal in the United States; a rope noseband used for training.
Hackamore a nose-fitting bridle without a bit.
Manilla special glove.
Maguey the century plant; a large cactus plant with big blue-green leaves or long stems that fan out from the base. A large needle appoints the end. They bloom once in seventeen years, when a huge stalk rises out of the middle of the plant. After the yellow-orange bloom dies, so does the whole plant. Smaller versions are called agave.
Ixtle rope made from a type of agave plant.
Mecates lead ropes that attach to the horse halter, used in training or leading the horse; here, made of hair.
certified peeler a real bronco buster.
Sackin sacking. A method of calming the horse with a piece of cloth. (See the preceding Analysis section for more information.)
Forefooted here roping the forefoot and thus tossing it to the ground. Also used in calf roping.
Grullo a black horse with white hairs mixed in so that it looks charcoal gray.
mestenos (Spanish) mustangs.
Potrero (Spanish) open lot.
Sulled balked, frozen up, cowboy lingo for a horse stopping.
Remuda (Spanish) round pen or corral.
un ratito (Spanish) a little while.
Como le convenga (Spanish) Whatever suits you.
Criollo A warm-blood Spanish stock horse, indispensable to the gaucho, or cowboy, of Argentina. A horse with Barb blood, the Criollo is know to be tough and is usually dun-colored.
Rechoncha (Spanish) round or bun-shaped.
Mescal strong Mexican liquor, often known for a worm in the bottom of the bottle.
Al contrario (Spanish) to the contrary.
mojado-reverso (Spanish) rebel, contrary.
Es una troca muy fuerte (Spanish) a very powerful truck.
Esta un poco cansado de su viaje, pero es muy bonito. (Spanish) He is a little tired from traveling, but is still very fine.
Manada (Spanish) herd.
la unica cosa (Spanish) the only thing.
Soy commandante de las yeguas, yo y yo solo. Sin la caridad de estas manos no tengas nada. Ni comida ni agua no hijos. Soy yo que traigo las yeguas de las montanas, las yeguas jovenes, las yeguas salvajes y ardientes. (Spanish) I am the leader (commander) of the mares, I and I alone. Without the charity of these hands you have nothing. Neither food nor water nor children. I am the one who brings the mares from the mountains, the young mares, the wild and hot-blooded mares.
Tules bulrushes, marsh plants.
Quinceanera (Spanish) fifteenth special birthday; coming out party.
Te espera. (Spanish) She is waiting for you.
Me quieres? (Spanish) Do you want me? (Do you love me?)
El cuatro. Catorce. (Spanish) Number four. Fourteen.
Ella esta aqui. Desde ayer. (Spanish) She is here. Since yesterday.
Quien es? (Spanish) Who is it?
Armas (Spanish) firearm, rifle.
En el segundo puesto (Spanish) in the second stall.