Boots O’Neal |

Boots O’Neal

Tales from the Ono Ranch
Mad Jack Hanks
Wellington, Colo.

Every puncher in Texas and maybe all across the Southwest has heard of Boots O’Neal. Boots works for the famous 6666 Ranch at Guthrie, Texas. He’s been a cowboy since he was 14 and now at 87 still mounts up with the crew and does what he has always done. Five years ago his horse came back to the headquarters, reins draggin’ the ground and no Boots in the saddle. He had gone to a remote part of the ranch to check on some cattle. A group got together and went to look for him knowing he might be really hard to find. When they finally did locate him he was unconscious. His horse had bucked him off and stomped him. Boots had 12 broken ribs, a punctured lung and a broken vertebra. They called for a medevac helicopter and when Boots came around he told them that he hurt so bad he wanted them to just leave and come back tomorrow as he had had a pretty good run. Of course they hauled him in and six weeks later he was back in the saddle. When asked if he ever rode that hoss again, he replied, “I’m ridin’ him now!”

My friend Marvell, a one-time ranch wife for many years sent me this article abut Boots since I had recently had a similar experience. I gotta’ tell ya gentle readers, I might have just sacked my saddle if I were Boots. That’s one tough cowboy. I will admit that yes, I have been sorta’ prowlin’ through the internet just lookin’ at horses. There will be an “old man’s horse” out there when I’m ready to get mounted again. I have had many, many, good decent reliable horses on ranches over the years but they always had lots of miles put on them on a consistent basis and that makes a big difference in their behavior. You know, a lot of wet saddle blankets!

The other story that comes to mind from that same general part of Texas, the Texas Panhandle, is of one Tom Blasingame who was found deceased in the pasture at age 91 while he had been out checking “water gaps” after a big rain. Tom was like Boots or Boots I should say was like Tom, just cowboys doin’ what cowboys do and loving every minute of it. That’s all they ever wanted to do.

At one time they made Boots the manager of the Sixes but he got tired of driving around in a car telling the crew what and when to do this or that. He preferred to be a horseback so they allowed him to go back to his regular job as a cowboy and he says the crew was not all that happy with him being back with them. I think he must have intimidated them somewhat, hummmm?

I will tell you that in the Texas panhandle if you carry the title of “cowboy” with that comes a lot of respect unless you do something to negate that title. After quitting Proctor and Gamble I wanted nothing more than to reach the point in my life when I would be referred to as a “cowboy.” I reckon I was being selfish regarding my young family, however it all worked out to the good in the end.

Stay tuned, check yer cinch on occasion, remember that some folks have made up their mind as to how happy they are going to be! I’ll c. y’all, all y’all. ❖

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Mad Jack Hanks

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