Today is the last roundup

That’s how Don Rehm’s funeral notice is written.  We live in Columbus, MT and beyond popular belief we all don’t really know each other in this town of 1900, but we might run into each other and visit with pleasantries when you see the same person.  Then you become post office friends or the such.  Don Rehm became friends with Tim and I at ranch sorting.  Many years ago Keyser Creek arena in Columbus, MT started ranch sorting practice and fun on Saturday afternoons.  That’s where we got to see and chat with Don the most.  For Tim it moved to roping horse sales in Laurel and Billings and the roping arena at Anipro in Absarokee, MT.

In the fast 10 years-time that I knew Don; my fondest memories of him always includes; holding a program for a sale and sitting next to Don slowly learning to pick out the attributes of a good horse.  It took plenty of chance meetings at area horse sales before I was able to remotely pick out a good one.  He was always polite and short on words with me and I soon learned that when he said “Tim I like the way he sits in the box”, he’d found a horse that would do and I’d better watch him run.  I never did buy a horse with Don and I never did learn to reliably pick out the good ones.  Turns out buying a horse wasn’t the point.  I just enjoyed his knowledge and more important, his friendship.  

What I loved about Don was for us newbies he was forever the quiet yet calculating teacher who would utter a few words of instruction as I entered the pen and as I hooked onto a steer,  “Stay on his inside shoulder, keep him against the rail, don’t let up, push”.  When the minute and a half was up and there was some success or none, Don would nonchalantly motion me over to sidle up next to him as he sat on his big black gelding, “Midnight”.  He couldn’t help but to continue teaching.  The first thing he would tell me was that I was doing great, then proceed to give me more hints on how to be successful at sorting. With his head cocked and his arm outstretched and pointing he would begin another lesson, “When those steers are frisky and riled up like that Joyce you got to take it slow, walk your horse gently into the herd, when you lock on to the correct steer your horse will know it, use the rail to run that steer into the box.

I looked forward to Don being at ranch sorting because I knew I would be getting much needed instruction from the wisest cowboy around as well as auction stories from across the west.  The best story was not about an auction but it was about the after auction and the late nights and showing up at O’Haras in Great Falls, MT with no reservation.  You know O’Hara’s the famous piano playing Pat and equally famous swimming mermaids also known as the Sip and Dip.  Back in the day there weren’t a lot of hotels and Don became so familiar to the staff at O’Hara’s that if there were no vacancies they would kindly show him to his room.  They would set up the maid’s closet with a cot and that is where Don would sleep.

In his last year at Keyser Creek Arena Don would show up on those cold, wintery days without Midnight. Don, where’s your ride “Well I couldn’t get my trailer in through the snow but I thought I would see what’s going on.” He would lean up against the rail and instruct. We would even offer to stop by and pick up his horse in our trailer.  Then Don wouldn’t show up on nice days and we wondered, well he said he have some medical issues.  He was going to take his horse to his son, Shane in Miles City to ride the stock yards.  We would not pry.  

Then another season passed and we did not see Don.  In our hearts we see him and we still hear him.