IS DOGGIN’ STILL THE SAME?

Is doggin’ still the same?
A youngster asked of me
Or is it tamer now
Than it used to be?

 
Hmmm, those are good questions
I says unto the kid
Let me tell you bout them old daggers
And some of the things they did.

 
First of all the steers
Them boys wrestled down
Was nothing like today’ s
For they weighed nine-hundred pounds!

 
Most of them was trapped
After they was ten years old
Too wild and touch for beef
So to the rodeos they was sold

 
Them big old steers could run
Fast as a blooded horse
To run one down and throw him
Was a real tour-de-force!

 
One time up in Omaha
At the fair and rodeo
Slats Jacobs wrestled him a steer
Nearly big as a buffalo!

 
It took him quite a while
To lay that critter down
And all the time he struggled
He was heckled by some clown

 
This old farmer boy was rude
And he sure disliked cowboys
He really was enjoying himself
Shouting insults and making noise!

 
“Why hell cow … BOY!
My wife is tougher than you!”
He slapped his knee and laughed
And most of the crowd did too

 
Ol’ Slats’ face got red
The veins swelled in his neck
Another crack from the farmer boy
And we was sure to see a wreck!

 
“Hey there Cow … BOY!
Looks like you could use a job
I need a hand for milking cows
And you look like just the GOB!

 
That crack about milking cows
Was more than Slats could stand
He’d whip that big mouth farmer
Pound his head into the sand!

 
“Hey, you bib-overalled boob
Come down outta those stands
So’s I can see your ugly face
I’m gonna break it with my hands!”

 
So that old boy stood up
A grinning from ear to ear
All six foot eight of him
Without a trace of fear!

 
Ol’ Slats, he took a look
And his face showed his surprise
At the eagerness of the farmer
And the man’s humongous size!

 
Undaunted, Slats vaulted the fence
And headed for the clod
Rage was boiling in his eyes
As he strode the Nebraska sod

 
But, before the two could tangle
A deputy stepped between
“There’ll be no fighting here today
And what I says I mean!”

 
That farmer boy just laughed and says,
“Hell sheriff, get out of the way,
I wouldn’t want you to get hurt
While me and this cowboy play!”

 
That made the deputy hot
And he drew his billy club
He shook it at the farmer and says,
“You don’t hear too good, do you bub?!”

 
Two more deputy sheriffs
Arrived upon the site
And the farmer says to them,
“You get two more, we’ll have us an even fight!”

 

From somewhere in the crowd
A female voice did shrill ,
“Don’t let them push you around
I’m coming darlin’ Bill”

 
01′ Slats looked up to see
A giant in gingham dressed
A red-haired Amazon,
Biggest woman in the west!

 
So Slats he jumped the fence again
To watch from the other side
As darlin’ Bill battled them cops
Assisted by his bride

 
Sometime during the battle
A forty-five was drawn
A shot was fired into the air
But by that time old Slats was gone

 
He’d loaded his old doggin’ horse
And hit the open road
And he laughed as he thought of the big red-head
Why, there wasn’t a steer in the herd
She couldn’t have throwed!

Another Kind of Rodeo Champ

There is a breed o’gal
That often is maligned
By unthinking people,
and some just plain unkind.

We see her all the time
At rodeos far and wide.
She’s usually real pretty
And by some cowboy’s side.

She wears her wrangler jeans
The way they were designed,
Cut to fit ……
No sag in the behind!

She’s rodeo’s greatest fan,
Loyal to the core.
And though she works from 9 to 5,
She’ll tell you that’s a bore!

She’d rather be at a rodeo
Than in some discotheque.
She cheers at a flashy ride
She cries at the terrible wreck.

She’s the Florence Nightingale
Of our old rodeo game,
Looking after cowboys
That’s busted up and lame.

She takes them in and feeds them,
Provides a place to stay
Till they’re healthy once again,
Then sends them on their way.

She’s filled many a gas tank,
Helped fellers pay their fees.
For being a cowboy’s friend
She makes no apologies.

Sometimes a grateful hand
Leaves a trophy buckle there,
His way of saying thanks
For the help and the loving care.

So, if she wears their buckles,
That sure don’t make her no tramp,
She darned sure ain’t no buckle bunny,
Just another kind of rodeo champ.

TO PICK AN APPLE

The bunkhouse is mighty quiet
Everybody’s gone to town
Everybody ‘cept Ben and me
And we’re just a laying ’round

I’m on my bunk a reading
Ben’s smoking at the table
Been sitting quite a spell
Just gazing at the stable

Ben finally breaks the silence
When he says to me:
“Ever get a yen for an apple
Fresh off the apple tree?”

I reckon that I have, I answers·
Without looking up from my book
I figure the question’s loaded
Knowing Ben, I ain’t mistook!

Says Ben: Let’s cross the creek
And climb that little hill
That’s crowned with apple trees
We’ll go and and eat our fill

It sounds mighty good to me
And I tells the same to Ben
He jumps to his feet a grinning
And says: That settles it then!

We step outside into the the mid-day sun
I pull my hat low over my eyes
Then I heads for the hill
To pick me a succulent prize

Ben’s heavy paw lands on my coller
And he quickly spins me about
“Dammit boy ain’t you learned nothin’?
And he begins to shout

He cusses me to the corral
Reminding me of a lesson forgot:
If it can’t be done a horseback,
It ain’t worth doing like as not!

So we saddled up our ponies
And we rode to that hill
Where we picked ourselves some apples
And then we ate our fill…A HORSEBACK!

EAST OF THE RIO VIRGIN

East of the Rio Virgin under the sky so wide
In a land they call Gold Butte
That’s where I long to ride
Memories of long ago
A land unspoiled by men
Wild cattle and fast horses
Oh, I remember when…

So distant from the world, t’was like a land forgot
Where time slowed to catch her breath
Where haste was e’re for naught
A land of rugged beauty
A cowboy Garden of Eden
Stocked .by the Almighty
Oh, I remember when…

We rode the desert valley midst catclaw and mesquite
Where bunch grass grew on flooded plain
In spite of the awful heat
Native cattle all around
Flighty as the desert wren
They led us on a merry chase!
Oh, I remember when…

And in the pine clad mountains more cattle to pursue
And from those rugged peaks
Far horizons met our view
A hundred miles the eye could see
As clearly as though ten
Like looking through God’s eyes
Oh, I remember when …

Once more I’d like to camp in a place called Cedar Basin
Stand and warm my backside
At a pinewood fire a blazing
And listen to the stories told
By older wiser men
Of deeds of grit and glory
Oh, I remember when!

MOVING DAY

An excerpt from Far Horizons: A Cowboy’s Poetry. Order the book here.

Ben, our foreman, reins his pony in and bellows:
“Gather up your gear and tell the other fellows
We’re breaking camp, its down to Sandy we ride.
Now hurry up my boy or I’ll have your mangy hide!

I jump like I was shot at and hasten to obey.
Soon there’s motion all around, the camps in disarray.
Cookie’s packing pots and pans, cursing all the while,
I bet that old man’s face would crack if he tried to smile!

Duffel bags and bedrolls are loaded on the truck.
Cookie’s gonna drive. Damn, he gets all the luck!
We help him tie the tarp down over all our gear.
As he waves goodbye to us he grins from ear to ear.

The sky turns dark and sullen, the wind begins to blow.
A late summer storm is coming from where we’re gonna go.
We fork our favorite ponies and halter all the rest
We’ll each be leading three, that’s at Ben’s behest.

After just a mile or two we’re in an awful storm.
Ben says its punishment for neglecting to reform.
The wind is really howling, it makes a fearful sound.
And now the rain is falling, muddying up the ground.

The horses fight their heads for this is not the norm,
If they was free of us they’d have their tails to the storm.
Its twenty miles to Sandy and now the sun has died.
Ben laughs and says: “Hell boys, t’aint that much of a ride!”

He’s lying through his teeth, both me and Ned agree,
Ben’s as wet and cold as us, that much I’ll guarantee.
Dark thoughts begin to trouble as he laughs at us,
I hope he freezes to the bone, the dirty rotten cuss!

The wind begins to torment, now its from the east,
The rain has turned to hail, pelting man and beast.
My nose is frozen solid, hands are wracked with pain,
Lightning from the sky reveals an endless plain.

I begin to question this cowboy way of life,
surely there’s a job with less pain and strife!
Boxing groceries at the supermart sounds pretty swell to me,
Clean and dry from eight to five and ever evening free!

We struggle on for hours against the raging storm
our soul consuming passion; to be dry and warm.
Jagged bolts of lightning dance upon the earth,
I’m beginning to regret Ben Fancher’s sorry birth.

Suddenly a light flickers faintly up ahead
Lightning fills the sky, there’s the old homestead!
We corral our weary ponies and pitch them lots of hay.
They’ve sure earned their keep, its been a grueling day .

Old Cookie steps outside, a lantern in his hands
Shouts: “Come an git yer grub, you wild rannyhans.”
We sprint for the shack, and Ben, he whoops and hollers.
The look upon his face is worth a million dollars.

We crowd around the stove where we shed our soggy gear,
The sound of spuds a frying is music to my ear.
We sit down to a meal of biscuits, beans and taters
Old Cookie says we eat like hungry alligators.

Outside the night grows still, the storm its fury spent.
Parting clouds reveal the moon, bright in full ascent.
Ben builds himself a smoke and leans back in his chair.
Light reflects like diamonds on his raven hair.

He smokes in thoughtful silence for the longest while ,
Then turns to Ned and me and with a great big smile
Says: Boys that was a job well done,
Now hit the sack you rannys, you’ll be up before the sun.

He pushes back his chair, it scuffs across the floor,
His spurs are making music as he strides for the door.
He pulls his hat down low and steps into the night,
His words: “a job well done” seem to fill the room with light.

Suddenly my heart aches deep within my breast.
As I realize that punching cows is what I like the best.
No super market jobs or clerking chores for me.
I’ll just be a cowboy and that’s all I’ll ever be.

COW CAMP STORIES

Cowboy am LagerfeuerAn excerpt from Far Horizons: A Cowboy’s Poetry. Order the book here.

T’was round the campfire blazing
We slouched down on the ground
Firelight dancing on the faces
Of the boys that gathered round

Someone opened with a story
‘Bout a tough little horse he’d rode
Full of cow and common sense
A grulla, a little bit pigeon toed.

We listened, and we thrilled
As he spoke of countless deeds
Performed while he was mounted
On the back of the grulla steed.

He finished with a sigh,
His eyes were all a-glow
With memories of the grulla
He’d rode so long ago.

Now the story of the grulla
Reminded Booger Red
Of a sorrel he had forked
On an Arizona spread.

A well built little horse,
He sure looked like a prize.
With four white stockened legs,
And a star between his eyes.

But the cayuse was a fraud
T’was known to all but Red
For that pony had been locoed
And was crazy in the head.

Red cinched his saddle snug
Upon the sorrel’s back
And they took to the brusr.
Behind a week old track.

Soon, they jumped a cow
With a yearling by her side
T’was a long eared slick
No brand upon his hide.

Red shook his lassa down
And it sudden become a race.
Down off the brushy hillside
Them cows set a brutal pace.

At last they hit the flat
Where the calf he could be caught
But by the time they got there
Old sorrel was pretty hot.

Fact is, he was lathered
And acting mighty queer,
Suddenly bogged his head,
Throwed old Boeger on his ear.

Red staggered to his feet
Slowly looked around
And spied the sorrel horse
A laying on the ground.

Old sorrel’s legs was stiff
Eyes buggin out his head
Red said that he was sure
The S.O.B. was dead.

Then old sorrel blinked
And his flesh begin to quiver.
Red said it was an awful sight,
Enough to make you shiver.

The sorrel finally coughed
And scrambled to his feet
Acting right normal again
And looking plumb discrete.

Red pulled his hat down low
And sprung into the saddle
Hung his spurs in sorrel’s belly
Just spoiling for a battle.

But the sorrel merely grunted
And again took up the chase
After them fleeing cows
That old sorrel horse did race.

He caught them run-away cows
Up near two-mile spring
Red stood up in his stirrups
His lassa rope to swing.

He fit a neat little loop
Around that yearlin’s neck
Jerked his slack and dallied
… Just before the wreck.

You can guess what happened next,
Red told it with a grin.
Yep, old sorrel bogged his head
And bucked him off again!

Then the sorrel got the staggers
And stumbled all around
His eyes they sort of crossed
And he sank down to the ground.

So, Red just settled back
And built himself a smoke
Then had himself a laugh
As he realized the joke.

Yep, he knew he had been had
By the boss and all the boys.
Why, they must be laughing now
All shouting and making noise.

For they’d all been through the test
On that crazy sorrel horse
And what was good for them
Was good for Red of course!

Red ended his little tale
With a grin upon his face
And we all had us a laugh
At the events he had retraced.

There was the slightest pause
As the boys they caught their breath
For Booger’s little story
Had nearly tickled them to death.

Say, that goofy sorrel horse
So pretty and yet so crazy
Reminds me of a gal..
A red head they call Daisy…

Said big old Tiny Biggs.
His eyes a-brightly gleaming
His story ’bout the redhead
sure set us boys to dreaming.

And so the hours passed
story after story.
Each cowboy in his turn
Recalling deeds of glory.

I often think about them boys
For most have run life’s race
But in the pages of my memory
Each holds a special place.

JOHN HEAROLD

John HearoldAn excerpt from Far Horizons: A Cowboy’s Poetry. Order the book here.

They figured us for an “easy touch”
Them boys from Hollywood,
Come up from California
To teach us a lesson good.

They brought with them a race horse,
An old campaigner tried and true.
This ol’ pony’d made em’ lots of money.
They had no doubts what he could do.

The Stewarts had a young race horse,
The colt was Oklahoma bred
And down his face there was a blaze
Laid on his coat of red.

The pride of the Stewart clan
Was this young sorrel stud
Purchased from the Oakies
For the race’n in his blood.

They called the colt John Hearold
For t’was his breeder’s name.
At the short tracks of the west
The colt would win his fame.

Them “prunies” pulled into Vegas
On a clear warm summer day
And they was in a festive mood
For them boys had come to play.
They drove out to the Stewart Ranch

With their race’n pride in tow,
Unloaded their black horse
And then put on a show.

For us poor “ignorant” cowboys
They done their very best
To show us that they had
The finest race horse in the west.

Oh, I’ll say he was a beauty,
Of t ha t there was no doubt .
Sunligh t s parkl ed on his coat
As he pranced and tossed about.

They adorned him in their colors,
Legged a jockey up on his back,
Said, “Bring on yer runnin’ horse,
We ‘ ll meet you at t he track”

We hurried to the pasture .
John Hea rold met us t here;
Cockle-burrs i n tail and mane,
Mud caked upon his hair.

He was a sorry sight,
And now that I look back,
It took a lot of courage
To lead him to the track .

Them prunies done their best
To keep from laughin’ aloud,
But snic kers and silly grins
Kept comin ‘ from their crowd .

They circled ’round John Hearold
Like a pack o ‘desert coyotes.
They mistook his unkept looks
For lack of hay and lack of oats.

“We was told you had a race horse!”
Said this prunie with a snear.
“You want to run this .. this …
Against my race horse here ?”

“I reckon that’s true,”
Said Del Stewart with a grin
“Unless you think yore pony
Don’t stand a chance to win.”

That prunies face got red,
Then he sprinted to his car ,
Grabbed a satchel full o’money,
Said, “Lets see how brave you cowboys are!”

Del looked into his satchel
The color left hi s face.
He didn’t have that kind o’money.
There wouldn’t be no race.

Then his eyes regained their sparkle
And a grin spread acrost his face,
” J ust give me thirty minutes
And we’ll have us that horse race.”

Del sped to the Horseshoew Club
Where he bent ol ‘ Bennie’s ear.
Said he needed Bennie’s backin’
For the horse race of the year.

Ol’ Binion went over to the safe
That held his private stash,
Grabbed a leather suitcase
And filled it full of cash.

“Mind if I tag along old friend?”
Said Benny as he handed Del the bag.
“I just want to be there
When John Hearold beats thei r nag !”

The word raced like wild fire
Up and down old Fremont Street,
That the prunies were in town
With a pony that’d never been beat.

Bell hops, maids and porters,
Dealers and card sharks t oo,
Politicians and church folk,
To the ranch they all flew

They covered them prunie’s bets
Then to the rail they crowded.
“They’re in the gates and now they’re off!”
In a single voice they shouted.

Like thunder on the desert
On a dark and stormy day,
I heard the rumble of their hooves
As they sped along their way.

Shoulder to shoulder, stride for stride
The sorrel and the black
Each battled for the lead
As t hey pounded up the track.

And just like them two horses,
The spectators battled too,
For a place at the rail
From which to catch a view.

I stood beside the Prunie
As we craned our necks to see.
I saw the color leave his face,
Saw him tremble at the knee.

“Oh Lord … my Lord … ” he cried
“They’re beating our race horse!”
I n t he lead by two lengths
Came John Hearold up the course.

Little Joe Smith, our jockey,
Waved as they flew by.
From the throat of the beaten prunie
There came a painful cry.

Shouts of joy were heard
And a thunderous volley of cheers
As the locals collected their winnings
And the prunies shed their tears.

Now folks, I want to tell you..
Quite a lesson was learned
By the boys from Hollywood:
When you run your pony in Nevada,
He’d better be more than just good!

CASEY AND THE QUEEN

saddle-bronc-1000wAn excerpt from Far Horizons: A Cowboy’s Poetry. Order the book here.

It was only a punkin’ roller
Our home town rodeo
Held in a dusty unwatered arena
Where the wind was wont to blow
It stood in a sagebrush flat
Several miles from center of town
A wretched collection of wire and ties
All tilted and falling down

But it was our rodeo grounds
And we looked upon it with pride
T’was a place where many a bronc got rode
And some was merely tried
Most of the riders were local boys
Raised on the ranches nearby
From the old Bar Nothin’
The Slash IT and the Lazy JY

So it was quite a thrill
The year the rumor went ’round
That the great Casey Tibbs
Was coming to our little town
Course, there was some grumbling
Bout it not being fair…
Casey being the champ and all
But us kids sure didn’t care!

For Casey was our hero
A legend in the west
The Babe Ruth of rodeo
He simply was the best!
When it come to ridin’ broncs
He really had no equal
His style and nerve was classic
There will never be a sequal

The sky was clear and the air was warm
on the morning of our big show
The townsfolk had all risen early
They all was raring to go
As for me and all my pals
We’d been up since the crack o’dawn
We didn’t want to miss a thing
That might be going on!

We talked with the clown
In his great baggy pants
That brave comic hero
Always takin’ a chance
Risking his life
Fighting bad brahmer bulls
While the crowd whoops and hollers
At the stunts that he pulls

We finally make our way
To the back of the chutes
Where there’s dozens of riders
Strappin’ spurs on their boots
They resin up their ropes
And tug on their gloves
Swappin’ technical points
Bout their draws and their doves

Me and my unruly pals
We’re all eyes and ears
Soaking up the scenery
Like a sot soaks up his beers
Suddenly a pal of mine
Shoves an elbow in my ribs
And with a thunderous shout
Says: There’s Casey Tibbs!

A new purple Lincoln
Is just pullin in
And I can see Casy Tibbs
And three other men
He drives right up
To the place where we are
Shouts greeting to a friend
And piles out of the car

Black hat and purple scarf
Adorn his slender frame
A championship buckle
Attests to his fame
we stay close by
As he works on his saddle
Resins up his chaps
Preparing for the battle

Across the wide arena
The band is playing with zest
Of all the rodeos in the world
I figure this one is the best
The contractor hollers at Casey
He’s brought him a saddle horse
It’s time for the grand entry
Which Casey will lead of course

At last the rodeo has begun
And we wait impatiently
As ropers cast their loops
At doggies as they flee
And then our spirits get a lift
As bareback riding begins
‘Specially when the first horse out
Bucks and jumps and spins!

Then it’s time for doggin’
Man what a bore!
Let’s get to the bronc stompin’
That’s what we’re waiting for!
Finally the last dogger
Lays his critter down
It’s time for saddle broncs
First man out is little Bobby Brown

Casey’s drawn a mare
Black as a stormy night
Standing quietly in the chute
She shows no signs of fight
He looks her over and curses softly
It’s plain to see he’s disappointed
He’d hoped to draw a winner
Not this old nag unjointed!

But he halters the old gal
And screws his saddle down
Figures he’ll make a token ride
And blow this two-bit town
As he settles into his saddle
The black mare plants her feet
Muscles ripple down her back
But she’s quiet and discreet

Casy measures his buck rein
Rather carelessly for a champ
Course it won’t take much..
To ride this old pensioned vamp
Up above in the announcer’s stand
They’re extolling Casey’s fame
All eyes are focused on the chutes
At the mention of his name!

The judges are standing ready
Their score sheets in their hand
While from across the the wide arena
Cornes a drum roll from the band
Now … Casey is all business
It’ time to make a ride
He nods his head and mutters
outside boys … outside!

T’was a hell of a sight the ensuing fight
T’ween Casey and the mare
Hirn a spurring from mane to cantle
She .. launching six feet into the air!
She’d jump and kick with a twist
Sunfishing … as they say
And young Casey riding pretty
Getting the best of the affray

Almost half his ride was over
When to Casey’s great surprise
The winning edge he had enjoyed
That old mare did neutralize
The rein he’d measured carelessly
Actually with disdain…
Went slack within his grip
And the advantage she did gain!

With her head up in the air
And the buck rein hanging slack
She bucked hard to the right
Then wickedly doubled back
Casey…. he was game
He’d rode tougher horses it was true
And he hung tough through the storm
But he knew his ride was through

For Casey had blown a peddle
And with it went his swells
And for fellows riding saddle broncs ..
Trouble is what that spells!
The next jump that old mare did make
She bogged her dusky head
Young Casey left his saddle
And went airborne instead

He landed on his feet
With his back toward the crowd
He doffed his big black Stetson
And to the mare he bowed
The crowd they was delighted
For they knew what they’d just seen ..
T’was the world’s bronc riding champ
That was bowing to a queen!

MY BLACK HORSE GOES TO SCHOOL

I used to ride a little horse -- Who's ma was never broke -- She was a mustang mare -- As black as diesel smokeAn excerpt from Far Horizons: A Cowboy’s Poetry. Order the book here.

I used to ride a little horse
Who’s ma was never broke
She was a mustang mare
As black as diesel smoke

Her colt was black as tar
His feet as hard as glass
His daddy was a quarter horse
They showed in halter class

Back then we had a cow lease
Over at Harris springs
Where I could ride that colt
And teach him cowhorse things

He was a real fast learner
Fact is he was downright smart
This colt had a lot of grit
And boys he had a lot of heart

That little horse sure fit me
In just about every way
With the exception of one thing ..
He felt bound to buck each and every day!

I’d cuss and holler, call him names
But he never paid no mind
And more than once that ornery cuss
Got us in an awful bind!

One day we jumped a wild cow
Coming into Grapevine Spring
One of them old A Plus cows
Long and tall and mean

She lit out for distant parts
And we built to her slippery trail
She give us quite a chase
But it was all to no avail

I fit a loop o’er both her horns
Before she dived into a draw
And that’s when that cussed colt
Started acting like his ma!

So, I pitched my slack to that old cow
Then I climbed down off his back
And I was scrambling up a ledge
When she jerked him outta his tracks

He landed on his dusky head
And lost a piece of his forelock
Boys, I swear he looked surprised
And in a state of shock!

That ol’ cow come up that rope
A bawling and a hooking
Caught that colt flat footed
Just standing there a looking

She stuck a horn through a stirrup
And broke it all to hell
The colt he whirled and kicked her
He really rung her bell!

She staggered backwards
Then fell o’er her own hocks
And I remember thinking:
“Them two ‘s sure taking some terrible knocks!

Quite a lesson was being had
‘Bout wild cows and their ways
I knew if Snip survived it
It’d last him all his days

Them critters battled on
And boys t’was quite a sight
Neither Cassius Clay nor Dempsy
Ever put up such a fight

There was black hair on the ground
And bits of red cow hide
When at last that cow went down
Ready to be tied

I yoked her to a joshuah
While the black colt sucked in air
Then I checked him out for damage
He’d lost some hide and hair

That little feller gained some knowledge
That he never would forget
And when we led that cow to camp
She followed like a pet!

An excerpt from Far Horizons: A Cowboy’s Poetry. Order the book here.