October 20, 2010



I grew up wanting to be a cowboy. If you could say I ever really grew up. But I remember playing as a child in Grandpa’s and Grandma’s basement. Riding a stick horse named Widow Maker or Come Apart, out of the chute at the Minot Rodeo, or maybe the Cow Palace or Madison Square Garden.
I was Dean Armstrong, or Jim, Tom, or Alvin Tescher. Maybe Casey Tibbs or Jim Shoulders. Cowboys that have made, as the Cowboy’s Prayer says, “That last, inevitable ride.”
As a matter of fact, I still jump on that stick horse once in awhile and make a heck of a bronc ride. Bothers Shirley a bit, especially if we have company!
This week I heard a story from a rancher friend.
Seems Alvin Tescher called him up one time and was in need of a couple more dude horses for a trail ride deal he was operating.
Now Rocky had one worthless piece of horseflesh that he was really wanting to be rid of (because I wasn’t sure how to spell peddle).” When he had bought the horse, the seller had said the only thing the horse could do was buck hard and run fast. Which, if you’re a cowboy doesn’t sound like the worst thing in the world. So Rocky had bought the horses.
The horse was a counterfeit. He could buck. I mean he could really buck! And he would do it every time you got on him. And he could run. When you first got on him. But after the bucking and running fit, he was absolutely worthless. Couldn’t walk in a straight line. Wouldn’t look at a cow. Would step in a hole. Would not cross a washout. Would spook at a bird or a deer. And was a complete waste of time.
Now, being somewhat disgruntled with this horse, and Alvin coming to look at dude horses, Rocky saddled “Dude” and got on. Like usual, this horse threw a fit. Rocky was pulling leather with both hands. He grabbed anything that came by and made the bronc ride of his life. When Dude was done with his bucking fit and Rocky was still there, Dude made a run around the pen. Then he was done. They were both shaking and sweating. But Dude was done for the day.
Rocky’s son was four years old. So Rocky brushed Dude off, and put his son on Dude in the corral. As counterfeit as Dude was, the boy was plumb safe. Dude had a heart the size of a pea. And he would not want to move until the next saddling, when it would start all over.
Anyway, Alvin drove into the yard and Rocky said, “Let’s go look at horses.” Never once looking towards Dude and the boy. They drove out to the pasture, and looked at the remuda. Rocky described each horse and told his strong points and weak points.
There was nothing that Alvin could use. As they drove back in the yard, Alvin asked about the horse the kid was riding. Rocky explained he couldn’t use that horse. All he would do was follow another horse down the trail. And besides that, Mom and Buddy would kill him if he sold that horse.
Alvin was excited. Just what he was looking for! And so, a deal was soon struck. Rocky had Mom and Buddy trained to cry a little as Dude was loaded up.
Alvin took the horse home and called a month later. The horse had bucked off every cowboy that had tried to ride him, and wasn’t good for a darn thing! Rocky had taken him to the cleaners!
Reminds me of the story of the guy who bought the blind horse. When he went back to the seller and complained, the seller said, “I told you he didn’t look too good!”
And like Grandpa always used to say, “Never buy a horse from a guy that sits on the front pew at church!”