Neu Perspectives

Down on Dust

Even as a devoted Western horseman, swirling clouds of dust no longer appeal to me.

We’ve all got our beat in life. 

I grew up in a household with diverse interests and talents. However, I’ve learned along the way that I belong with folks like you—horse people, cow people, gluttons for punishment who thrive on animal drama and hard, endless work. We share an unexplained love for our little world and the intricacies that it encompasses. We put up with a lot because of this love, as well. We spend hours in sub-zero temps and 40-mph wind gusts, slopping thawed water to our troughs and throwing fluffy flakes of hay that leave disintegrated mementos in all of our hoods and pockets. The inside of my pickup always smells weird, and I find needles and strange vials of medicine rolling around on the floor. I have a strange tolerance—nay, acceptance—of nearly unacceptable things in life. 

However, the presence of dust is officially excluded from my “acceptable” list. It wasn’t always this way. I used to trot circle after circle in a parched arena, the silhouette of me and my horse swirling among the clouds of grit and granules. I’ve branded calves in rain-starved California, with hundreds of animals penned in small traps churning up puffs of powder as we tried to work and talk without our mouths getting filled with dirt. 

Horseman riding in the dust
I can put up with a lot of things to live a life with horses, but my tolerance for dust is low.
Photo by Ross Hecox

Maybe my patience fuse has grown shorter, or perhaps I’ve wised up a bit, but my tolerance for dust is currently at an all-time low.

I put up with a lot of things. Up to a certain amount of pain, discomfort doesn’t really bother me. I can walk with a small pebble in my boot all morning. Irritated? Sure, but not enough to stop what I’m doing and shake it out. However, give me a situation that creates a cloud and film on my teeth and exfoliates my face, and I’ll be doing a rain-dance in no time flat. 

My husband, if he reads this, will sit back and smirk. For years he has been anti-dust, to the point where we went borderline broke while he traded out starting a set of colts for a full-sized macaroni-yellow water truck, complete with a Cat engine. Yes, when he drove it home, I rolled my eyes and complained about the eye-sore in my yard. But in dry spells, I’ve learned to embrace the dang thing. And it’s spoiled me even further as I strive to lead a no-dust lifestyle. 

There’s no doubt  I belong among my people—horse people and cowboys who sleep too little, own too many animals and know far too much about the proper administration of Banamine and deworming schedules. If you invite me to come rope, ride or lend a helping hand with your place, mark me down as a yes. I’m all about it. 

But, from now on, I’m showing up in my water truck.

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