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After losing two fingers in his first bull ride, seventeen-year-old Tullis Yoder worries he'll never have a chance to top another bull. Then the rodeo show he works for goes broke, and he learns that its thirteen horses, his only family, will be slaughtered for dog meat. With the help of a lady doctor and an aging professional horse thief, Tullis steals his beloved horses. He wants to set the horses free, but with crooks, three sheriffs, and a powerful judge after him, will he ...
After losing two fingers in his first bull ride, seventeen-year-old Tullis Yoder worries he'll never have a chance to top another bull. Then the rodeo show he works for goes broke, and he learns that its thirteen horses, his only family, will be slaughtered for dog meat. With the help of a lady doctor and an aging professional horse thief, Tullis steals his beloved horses. He wants to set the horses free, but with crooks, three sheriffs, and a powerful judge after him, will he have a chance?
In 1938, with the help of a doctor and her elderly, horse-thieving father, a seventeen-year-old orphan steals thirteen horses from Chickalookee, Florida's doomed rodeo and finds a family in the process.
"Good luck, boy.”
Too gut-fluttery even to mumble a thank you to the chute man, I forced a phony grin, stretching out a leg to straddle the massive back of a Galloway bull.
The brute felt hotter than a tent show sermon.
My mind kept repeating, eight seconds. That's how long a bulltopper has to stick his seat on bucking stock to win hisself a belt buckle. Until now, it had seemed a short time. But this wasn't a rodeo. I doubted that any buckle Mr. Judah St. Jude might award would be genuine silver. Or genuine anything.
“Thong your right hand snug tight,” the chute man's partner said. “That's it. Take your time, on account this here animal ain't about to wander nowhere. Wrap the rawhide twice around. Wait up. As your hand's a mite puny, loop it three. Good. Pound the braiding into your glove palm and squeeze, like you'd sweet a gal.”
He smiled with all eleven of his teeth.
“Anything else?” I asked him, hearing the bull snort and feeling his hoof pawing the turf.
“Pretend you're in a real rodeo. Keep a holding your left arm high up, above your shoulder, even though there ain't no judges here. Thataway nobody'll suspect you're turning soft or grabbing leather.”
“A bulltopper,” Chigger Dill, our lame and aging barrel clown, told me early this morning, “always remembers his first bull. And tries to forget his last.” I had yet to attempt my first, but in a few more seconds, Gutbuster was mine to master.
Not knowing my exact age, or even my birthday date, I figured I'd turned seventeen. That made me older than Gutbuster and ought to mean wiser.
“If'n ya spill,” the other guy advised,“git to your feet, even if your pants is down and both your legs is broke, and make for a fence. Some railbirds will be setting on it, creasing their butts, and they'll help fetch you up and over.”
Beneath me stood a bull bigger than a boxcar. His temper rumbled like thunder. My stomach was fidgeting and my throat was too dry to swallow. My heart was a drum. The bull roared. Between my legs a hot rush of urine clouded my jeans a shade darker. One of the tenders noticed. Yet didn't poke fun.
“We all done it, sonny. Myself more'n once. I seed seasoned bullers wet theyselfs. Ain't no sign you're yeller. Just a human bean.”
“Hey, look below,” his helper said, pointing down. “That'n bull took hisself a pee. Poor curly head critter is possible a feared that you be aboard him.”
Everybody laughed except me.
Eight seconds . . . only eight seconds.
“Y'all listen up,” blared the arena loudspeaker with the squawking, familiar voice of our boss, Mr. Judah St. Jude. “Folks, di-rect your attention at gate number three. Tullis Yoder, one a our amatoor lads, fixing to make his virgin voyage . . . first rodeo appearance . . . on a bad bull named . . . Gutbuster!”
Tenders cinched the bite strap.
Under me, the bull flinched. A thick board near cracked. Behind, a third guy jabbed the bull's testicles with a electric prodder, to enrage him. I wanted to climb off. No, I wouldn't! My mind and spirit had been running too long, to escape who I was: a nobody. Best I quit turning tail.
Hands and fingers appeared as the chute crew prepared to swing open the gate. “Ya ready, Tullis? Say when.”
A free hand tugged the cowboy haymaker snugger to my skull. My teeth gnawed each other. Nodding, I said, “Let'em rip.”
As gate 3 pulled open, Ruby Red and the Saddle Tramps whacked into “Rattlesnake Rag.” A furnace-hot hunk of male meat charged free, like flame, heated by hatred and pain. On the flank strap beneath his belly, a cowbell clanked like it'd gone crazy.
The gate didn't open clear enough. One of the latch boards tore at my knee, near wiping me clean off. Leaving the ground, Gutbuster's first jump took off north but landed south, swapping ends, punishing the earth with a jarring thud. He was a bass on a hook plug, his horns shook side to side. Hoofs again bit sand, driving the blade of his bare back into my crotch, and I'd got sliced to halfs, sending me sick into pain. My anus burned like arson.
“Eight!” I tried to holler, screaming, praying the bull would stop. “God . . . oh, God, shut him down. Please make him quit.”
No brake on a rodeo bull. Neither reins nor saddle, and no thick lanyard rope attached to his nose ring. I'd seen Gutbuster dump a dozen cowhands. Why was I trying to top this cusser? Insane with ire, he broke air, hurting and twisting, spooked by the loudspeaker, crowd noise, and a persistent brass band, concentrating on the cause of his agony: a boy on his back.
Head low and heels high, he began to spin, and with us spun all of Florida. Trapped in a blur of whirling dust, frozen in fear, my body was mashed into madness. Boy and bull pain interlocked into a single torment. Twice a second, my neck and spine whip-snapped, like a snake being shook by a dog.
His twirl was too fast, his circling too tight to counter. Instead of leaning inside, my torso yanked out, my inside leg losing its hold. My hand couldn't pull me to him. Fury pounded my privates whenever his bucking would camel up.
Hurt worse when his hoofs hit.
Every part of me left him, save one -- my right hand stuck, tightly thonged within the three braided-leather loops. I fell. Below him now, near his prancing hind quarters, my boot heels dragged in the gravel. I hung suspended by a entrapped arm, fingers warped by their impossible purchase on a bull's hump.
“Help . . .”Horse Thief. Copyright © by Robert Peck. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Posted August 13, 2013
I love this book!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I would sit and read for who knows how many hours.
I love Robert newton Peck's books. Horse Thief was very thought out. Robert newton Peck is great for boys
but for girls its hard cause a lot of his books are about ( some not all of them SOME) boys comeing of age
And stuff but i am kinda of like a tomboy so i am ok with it. Robert newton Peck puts love of horses in adventure.
Robert newton Peck is a GREAT witer. TRY HIS BOOKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YOU WONT BE UPSET IF YOU READ THEM!!!
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Posted May 17, 2010
Tullis Yoder has only one dream: to make his name known among bull riders. And Tullis will do anything to make that name. Only 17 years old, Tullis rides his first bull in an old run-down rodeo and loses 2 fingers. But when word gets out that the 13 prized horses from his first rodeo will be sold and made into dog food, Tullis takes matters into his own hands. With the help of a lady doctor and her professional horse thieving father, they steal the horses. But they're followed by crooks, three different sheriffs, a highly powerful judge, and a girl who takes an interest in Tullis. All Tullis is worried about is saving the horses and making his name known. Will he get that chance? What will happen to the thirteen horses? If you like suspense, this novel will keep your attention from beginning to endWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 13, 2005
In an age where sex and Cialis are dominating every commercial and bit of air time, it is great to sit back with a Peck book and appreciate the finer,simpler pleasures of my grandfather's era. I laughed frequently,smiled often, and even grew a little misty-eyed.A fun,clean,sometimes ornery experience-just as I imagine Mr.Peck himself to be.Filled with homespun similes and a revolving door of narrators, Horse Thief is 7 dollars very well spent.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 21, 2005
It wasnt the best book I have ever read but I recommend it to people who like reading about horses. I like the language, country. I also like how the chapters are short. If you wish to contact me further you can neomail me at Neopets.com under BuffheartWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.