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A short story by Emma Carpenter.

A Conversation With Shredder - Page 2 of 2

......continued from page 1

After he snorted a little and got his bearings, Shredder looked directly at the four men sitting at the card table in front of the return gate. He started for them in a high headed, stiff legged trot, huge brown eyes glaring them down between his thick, long, horns. He got about five feet from the table when he snorted and dove off to his right.

He cocked his head to the left to keep a suspicious eye on the group as he tiptoed past. He tried so hard to stay away from the odd looking assortment that he brushed his right side down the arena fence, putting as much distance as possible between them and himself as he snuck to the return gate. When he got there he stopped, surprised it wasn’t already open.

“Aw, sorry, you can’t come in yet,” Tiny hollered at him sympathetically from behind the gate. He had to yell to be heard above the crowd and PA. “You have to go back.”

Shredder looked at Tiny with huge, intelligent eyes, and didn’t move. He was a bucking bull, and he knew that when he didn’t have a rider on him that gate was supposed to be opened. He looked at Tiny like he expected better of him.

Tiny sighed.

“It’s not my fault,” he called out to the bull. “You’re supposed to go get the table.” Tiny reached over the gate with one arm and motioned toward the card table. Shredder followed the gesture and gave the table a good, long look. Then he looked back at Tiny.

“Go get the table.” Tiny told him. “Then you can come in.”

People sometimes give animals credit for being smart, but I often wonder if we ever give them near enough credit for being as smart as they really are. After his conversation with Tiny, Shredder trotted gently back past the card table, his left side against the arena fence this time, cocking his head nervously to the right.

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When he passed the table by several steps he stopped and turned. From where he was standing the return gate was directly ahead of him in his line of sight, with the bull poker table and contestants in between. He looked at Tiny, who was nodding and giving him the thumbs up, and took a deep breath. If you want to go back and chew your cud with your friends, sometimes a bull’s gotta do what a bull’s gotta do.

Shredder dropped his head and pawed the ground one time with his right front foot, just like he was reading from a script. Then he charged the table. Somewhere between his conversation with Tiny and trotting back in front of the table, he must have decided that if he was going to do this he was going to do it right.

He ran to the corner of the card table, stuck his head under it, and threw it up into the air until it was as high as the tallest row of bleachers. He stood there until the table came down again, then caught it on his right horn. Well, sort of caught it, because the horn went right through it. Shredder spun the table twice around his horn then flung his head to the right, sending the table smashing into a telephone pole that was part of the arena fence. It disintegrated and fell to the arena floor in dozens of pieces.

When Shredder looked back at where the table used to be there were only two terrified men in cowboy hats still sitting there. One of them, sitting to Shredder’s left, had his head tilted down at the ground using his hat brim as a shield so he wouldn’t able to see anything. The other guy had made the mistake of watching. He was sitting with his arms straight down, clutching the sides of his chair, with his mouth wide open but no noise coming out.

Unfortunately for him, his seating arrangement meant he was the last thing between Shredder’s line of site and the return gate. Shredder threw him just as high as he had thrown the card table. To the guy’s credit, he was able to keep his head and when he came down he clawed for the top of the arena fence with outstretched fingers like a panicked cat.

Getting a hold of the top wire he used his last moments of flight to heave himself out of the arena and land on his chest between two sections of bleachers. While he was still sliding forward he put his palms to the ground and paddled with them like he was swimming, forcing his feet to catch up from behind. He wound up on his feet in an all out run, and the last I saw him he had passed the concession stand and was disappearing into the parking lot.

“Good bull!” Tiny called to Shredder. “Good boy! Come on!” Tiny swung the return gate open as wide as he could, which was kind of hard because of the broken folding chairs and metal table legs lying on the ground.

Shredder trotted cheerfully through the return gate and past Tiny, who gave him another “Good bull!” as he went by. The crowd was laughing and screaming and clapping, and one of the local rodeo committee guys ran into the arena to shake the hand of the winner and hand him his prize money.

Behind the chutes, Norman had his head buried in the forearm of his shirt sleeve laughing so hard his shoulders shook. I ran to put my video camera away and get back in time to load steers for the team roping. The entire time, I was wondering why I doubted the whole thing could have been solved so easily by a well placed card table and a simple conversation with Shredder.

A Conversation With Shredder - Page 1

A Conversation With Shredder - Page 2


About The Author

Emma Carpenter and her husband Bill are the owners of the website. Emma is the administrator of the website, and when not writing articles for other areas of CowboyWay she enjoys writing the occasional short story.

For many years Bill and Emma maintained a small cow/calf herd while also doing day work for area ranchers in the Kansas Flint Hills. The Carpenters are retired from Carpenter Rodeo Company, a family owned rodeo company that put on rodeos in Kansas and Oklahoma for over 40 years. They still own a small cow/calf herd.


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