The right kind of horse |

The right kind of horse

Tales from the O-no Ranch
Mad Jack Hanks
Wellington, Colo.

There is a “right kind” of horse for me, gentle readers and it doesn’t really have much to do with the breed or type. What it does have to do with, for me, is disposition, character and attitude. Hummm, a lot like folks don’t you think? Don’t you think we are judged by our personalities, disposition, character and attitude? You betcha! At least that’s usually how I size folks up that I have crossed paths with. I feel the same way about horses. I dreaded those days that I had to throw a leg across a horse that I just didn’t feel like I could trust. You know, you’ve most likely had one like that. You were a little on edge all the time you were mounted. You couldn’t or didn’t want to put all of your trust in that ol’ pony. On the other side of the coin I have ridden horses that I completely trusted to have my best interest at heart. Knowing full well that if I got a rope under their tail they were gonna’ buck, maybe a little, maybe a lot or maybe not at all. It would be the same if someone reached out and grabbed you by the ear. You would react, if you are normal, by pulling away and maybe lace the air with a few colored words of wisdom.

I always tried as a ranch manager to keep reasonably safe horses on the ranch and never let a new man ride a horse that could be a little quirky about some things, like flying paper feed sacks or plastic flappin’ in the wind on a “bob” wire fence until I knew his capabilities to handle such a situation. Most cowboys just don’t want some ol’ slow, dead-headed pony to ride all day. They prefer something with some git up and go that will get them where they need to be if it’s “pluggin’ a hole” or needing to rope something.

A cowboy (cowgirl), in my opinion, can get more done and done correctly if they don’t have to worry about a horse blowin’ up with them at the wrong time or any time as far as that goes. I have to tell y’all, I have seen some spectacular wrecks and some pretty fair bronc rides when that happens. If you are a young person with some experience you may prefer a pony that keeps yer jaw clinched but if you are an older cowboy, regardless of your talent and abilities, ya just don’t want to be mounted on a bronc.

I’ve worked on outfits that took pride in having horses that would cause a feller to choke down his biscuits and gravy and coffee and then almost toss it all when he was mounting up. “Ya gotta’ be a cowboy to work on that outfit!” That’s pretty much how they liked to roll. I had a friend who had such a horse in his string on a ranch in far west Texas. The idiot ran away with him and they went over a 20-foot drop off of a mesa. It killed the stupid horse and dang near killed my buddy. He opted to quit “cowboyin’” and find a job as a range specialist for the state of Texas.

“I dreaded those days that I had to throw a leg across a horse that I just didn’t feel like I could trust.”

I think that most of us could agree that people and horses are products of their environment. It depends on how we were raised, how we were treated and what, if any values, were presented to us and how they were presented. I have learned so much more about horses in these past few years and you know what? I’ll have to say I have learned a lot about ol’ Mad Jack and things he should and should not be doing. Just sayin’. Stay tuned, check yer cinch on occasion, live to learn and learn to live, and I’ll c. y’all, all y’all. ❖

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Mad Jack Hanks

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