Gentle readers, I wanted to be a cowboy from childhood. I wasn’t sure after I reached the teen years if that’s really what I wanted. After all, I didn’t know any real cowboys personally and the girls at school seemed to like boys with a little “shine” to them. You know, the cooler guys and I assumed that’s where I was headed.
Fast forward to my late 20s and I had been an oilfield hand, a Sears Roebuck sales clerk and a toothpaste drummer for Procter and Gamble and was tired of it all. We lived on a 75 acre place north of Amarillo that joined a ranch. We had some horses and I, on occasion, would get the opportunity to catch a glimpse of cowboys roping and doctoring in the pasture. That’s what I wanted for sure. I would offer to go over and help those guys in any way I could just for the opportunity to be around them and learn the “cowboy ways.” Talk about the “green, green, grass of home,” I was so green before I started helping them or maybe getting in their way, I thought a bridle chain was for your spurs! No kiddin’ ... and when I ask a feller if his horse had ever been “floundered,” he said, “you meant to say foundered didn’t you?” I replied “Sure nuff!”
I never had a broncy horse in my early days of learning. As I aged and became more confident I knew a “real cowboy” should be breaking horses and riding some horses that were a real challenge. I have had “broncitis” many times in my cowboying career. That’s a disease you get when you are trying to choke down your scramled eggs in the morning and you know you’ll be gettin’ on a bronc for the day’s chores. A bronc can come under serveral discriptions from just a green broke horse to a real unpredictable jar headed, brain dead dink that could decide to buck you off at any or all opportunities. When you are in your 40s and your most agile years are behind you it’s difficult to convience yourself that you can ride any and all horses that you come in contact with and get a day’s work done on them.
On the Texas ranch I took it on myself to ride the rougher horses or horses that were to be tried out for ranch horses. There were a couple of reasons for that behavior. I wanted to prove to my men that I was capable of doing anything that I had ask them to do. I also had to prove myself to myself. It’s a man thing ya known. I didn’t have any cowboys in the 10 years that I ran that ranch that wanted to get on any horses that would cause them to “choke down their breakfast” for fear of what lay ahead.
I got along with most young horses in my career and started a good many colts and rode horses for the public. Some of those outside horses could and would hurt you in a hearbeat and others just needed some wet blankets pulled off them.
Some of you cowboys and cowgirls know exactly what I’m talking about when I mention “broncitis” instead of bronchitis, don’t ya? Did you have to choke down your breadfast this morning and lose a little sleep the night before on account of what was waiting down in the corral for you after breakfast? I think it’s better now and easier to get along with some of these rank horses because the newer ways of thinking about breaking horses. Thirty five years ago it wasn’t exactly “get on’um and go,” but it was not that far removed from it either.
Stay tuned, keep a leg on either side, check yer cinch on occasion and I’ll c y’all, all y’all! ❖