War Bonnet

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War Bonnet - Leyla Najma's Belly Dance BlogYears ago when I was nineteen I was introduced to my wedding gift, a mare called War Bonnet. Actually to tell you the truth I was told that if I married my ex-husband that War Bonnet would be mine. Looking back I can see that without the enticement of War Bonnet I probably would have declined the proposal. It’s not that I am so shallow, it was just that War Bonnet and I connected and she was a one in a million horse.
Saying that she and I were green as grass is an understatement. But on the other hand she was an appaloosa/quarter horse with the heart of an old soul.

We learned how to work cattle together. Both of us nervous as heck every morning when we would ride out but relaxing as the day ended because we held our own. What was so unusual about her was that I used a hackamore on her and not a bit. She learned to rein with my signals and grumblings and a few swear words here and there. Her ears would go back when she would get mad at me and I would crack up laughing. It was just our way of communicating with each other.

One of my fondest memories of War Bonnet was one of the first round ups either one of us had been on. We worked on a ranch that was thousands of acres with experienced cowboys that looked like they had just stepped out of a John Wayne movie.
On one particular morning we all woke up way before dawn to get a good head start on the day. I thought I was going to die because nobody in their right minds get up at 4:00 in the morning! But a good breakfast prepared us for the ride in the cold morning air. We gathered around with horses breathing hard and anticipation in the air. Breaking away from the group we than made our way to the designated locations to round up the Mexican steers scattered all about the ranch.
There’s nothing like watching the earth wake up and to see the sun cast his first rays of light on the mountains. As if on queue, the birds started to sing letting everyone know it was time to wake up. Yes, now I know why I woke up so early.
As the morning wore on we gathered up cattle everywhere we went with only a mountain in the distance as a landmark. I was enjoying myself when it finally happened……I had to work a section of the ranch by myself and any cattle I found I had to head them toward the mountain in the distance. My heart was pounding and War Bonnet started to get anxious. She knew we were on our own. Little did I know that it was decided earlier to let me go out on my own to see if I could handle myself like the guys. So off War Bonnet and I went into the unknown ready to do our part and to successfully fulfill our task. Actually we were both scared [email protected]#$#!less.
One hour passes and than two hours pass and I haven’t seen hide nor hair of any cattle. Smiling to myself I thought, “Well this was easy”. War Bonnet was pretty proud of herself too. We were just about to boast to ourselves when all of a sudden we came across a large group of cattle at a watering hole.
Ok we can handle this. Now for those of you who don’t know cowboy etiquette, there is a certain call each cowboy has when he finds cattle and gets them up and moving along. Each call or sound is unique and says a lot about the cowboy.
Hum…….what was mine? Hell if I knew but I knew I had to come up with something quick. As I was sitting there thinking, War Bonnet was telling me with her gestures that she didn’t care what I came up with just to get something out so we can get on our way!
“Ok……I think I can do this…..oh damn”!
Little did I know that I had been followed by a group of the cowboys and they were hiding on a ridge watching me figure out what I was going to say. The cattle didn’t budge and looked at me with disdain in their eyes.
Alright here I go………
To this day I don’t know why this particular word came to my mind, maybe it’s a girl thing. But I gathered all my confidence and strength and yelled out “Shoo!!!”
You would have thought that lightning struck the very ground where War Bonnet and I were standing on. The cattle took off at a thunderous roar and I was so pleased with myself. That was until I could hear laughter from the ridge behind me. The group of cowboys watching me came over to where we stood laughing hysterically with tears in their eyes saying that was the funniest thing they had ever seen.
War Bonnet’s ears went back and I think mine did too. Her tail went up in the air and if I would have had one, mine would of too. With a flick of her tail we trotted off ignoring the laughter and feeling relieved that we had at least done our part. I was left wondering why the Hell of all the words I could have used why I used that word!

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About Leyla Najma
Lifelong professional Belly Dancer dedicated to providing "Belly Dance Instruction That Is Easy To Understand And Learn That Connects The Dots"

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