I was a horsie book fiend for a while and creasing a horse is mentioned in a fair number of them; the boy hero of the book is usually worried the shooter will accidentally kill the horse, or just that they'll get hold of it before he does, but no one ever worries about what would happen to the horse physically if it's successful. The image in my head, and the way it was sometimes described, was that it left a little crease on the horse's neck, skin deep. As with Lafe in this Bonanza ep, the only risk mentioned is if the guy misses his shot. So while I was fine with Hoss having no patience with Lafe wanting to shoot the horse, I think I didn't see Lafe as being all that wicked for considering it, because it was often presented as not that big a deal. And it wasn't a big deal, to the guys doing it in the nineteenth century or to those who bought the horses they'd caught that way.
But looking at a bit more evidence, I'd have to say it was a pretty big deal!
Yikes! That is considerably more than a "crease in the skin" in my book! I never imagined it going into the muscle at all. Yeesh."CREASING" A WILD HORSE.
For One Captured by That Method Fifty Were Killed.
Will C. Barnes, writing In McClure's of the various methods of capturing wild horses In the old days on the plains, says: " 'Creasing’ was one of their devices. This consisted in shooting a bullet so that it struck the animal on the top of the neck just in front of the withers and about an inch or so deep close to the spinal column. The shock temporarily stunned the horse, and the hunter ran up and tied the animal's feet together before he recovered. A rope halter was slipped on his head. A gentle horse or sometimes a work ox was led up alongside the prostrate beast, and he was securely necked up to the gentle animal and thus could be handled easily. Old Mustangers say, however, that for one horse caught this way fifty were killed and that as a matter of fact the method was not used very much except in an emergency, when a hunter, after days of attempts to capture, finally took the risk of successfully creasing an unusually fine animal rather than see him escape altogether, "One of the best cow ponies I ever owned I bought from a mustanger who had creased him on the plains east of the Pecos river In New Mexico. There was a hole in its neck ; fully two inches deep and wide, where the ball from the heavy buffalo gun had plowed its way through the flesh Just high enough above the spine not to kill and low enough to stun effectually." '
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