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Better safe
It’s the Pitts
By Lee Pitts

For those of you who believe it is better to be safe than stylish comes word that a firm is making air bags for horses. Well, not for horses actually, but for the people who ride them.

The Hit-Air Vest attaches by a cord to your saddle and when your horse tries to send you into the funeral parlor the cord pulls the plug on your air vest, which then inflates to protect your spine, neck and internal organs upon impact. Next thing you know they’ll be putting seat belts on saddles. Oh, wait a minute, they already do. If companies really want to take all the “fun” out of being a cowboy why not have saddles with ejection seats so that when a horse sends the rider on an unscheduled flight into outer space he or she would come floating back to earth for a soft landing?

Bureaucrats won’t be satisfied until they take all the risk out of everything. That is a problem for cowboys because they are engaged in a very dangerous career. In the future I can see OSHA mandating that panels be padded and horseshoers be made to wear bulletproof vests. Needles will be made dull, like restaurant steak knives that won’t even cut gravy. Trees and rocks on ranches will have to have plastic barrels filled with sand around them like you see on freeways and we’ll have to place red safety cones around all construction areas. Horses will have to have expensive anti-kick-back devices like they put on chain saws and all machinery will have to have automatic shutoff devices, like my lawn mower, so that when a mechanically impaired cowboy tries to run any piece of equipment it will automatically shut off.

The thought occurs to me that there are other potentially profitable safety ideas that could be applied to the cowboy trade. The first one that comes to mind is another auto application where the driver must blow into a breathalyzer before turning on his car. If he’s had too much alcohol the car won’t start. All rodeo broncs and PBR bulls should have such devices so that anyone who was not drunk couldn’t get on one.

I would put the same safety tops that are found on bottles of aspirin on all liquor receptacles. This would get more people off the bottle than Alcoholics Anonymous. And you know those safety locks that parents put on their cabinets so that toddlers can’t open them? I would put the same devices on the doors of all banks, PCAs and all other lending institutions so that ranchers could not figure out how to get into these places and borrow vast sums of money.

To make the cowboy’s life safer we could remove the barbs from barbed wire, muzzle all dogs, take away the credit cards of bulls that charge and make listeners to amateur cowboy poetry contests wear ear plugs. Gas masks should be required at all feedlots, rendering facilities and political confabs. Ropers ought to have safeties on their ropes like they do their guns to prevent a premature shot. And why stop there? The ground crew at brandings should wear helmets and flame-retardant suits like they wear in NASCAR. They should be made to stand behind a barrier and when a calf is brought to the kitchen they could jump out from behind the barrier, jack up the calf and perform their assigned tasks. They could sell advertisements all over their flame-retardant suits and calf branding could become a sport televised on ESPN. Restrictor plates would be made mandatory on all calves so they couldn’t run too fast. Don’t laugh, if people will pay good money to watch soccer, poker and cars go round and round I’m sure that calf branding could also become a very popular sport.

We should borrow one more safety idea from sports. NFL players and boxers often wear plastic teeth protectors. But if you’ll notice they can’t talk while wearing them. Or at least intelligibly. (Maybe they couldn’t anyway?) If we could force cowboys to wear teeth protectors at all times for their protection they could never again make any dangerous commitments to their bankers, landlords, girlfriends or wives.

This farm news was published in the July 19, 2006 issue of Farm World, serving Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.