No one can make renegaed horses good

By Baxter Black

Sometimes a cowboy will ride a good lookin’ bad horse for longer than it makes sense. This flawed thinking may have a more universal application; i.e., hangin’ on to a pickup, dog or girlfriend long after they’ve bit you or conked out.

It’s even worse when the injured party thinks he can make a good horse, dog or wife out of a pretty renegade.

Roy was a California cowboy and an experienced horseman. Out of respect, the boss had given him the big, fancy 3-year-old bay to use in his string. He was a green broke, cinchy, snorty and antsy horse, but he looked so good in his white stockings and star.

Within two weeks he pitched Roy into the rocks and broke his arm. But he was a good lookin’ devil so Roy turned him into the horse pasture while his arm healed. Every day, Roy would see the bay grazing or kickin’ up his heels, livin’ the life of Trigger. This injustice began to prey on Roy. He himself couldn’t throw a saddle over a horse or cut his own chicken fried steak. All he could do was hand things to the chore boy.

Still, he was a trainer at heart and believed he could gentle the young horse down. One afternoon he caught the horse and, with the help of one of the boys, saddled him — not to ride, only just to do some groundwork.

Behind the hay shed was a dilapidated board corral that would serve as a round pen. Roy, using a plastic whip, put the pony doin’ circles. But the horse was so skittish he would race away, then stop, whirl and generally act like he had iron fillings in his gyro compass.

To steady his gait and add some drag, Roy decided to attach an anchor. He got the boys to bring the shoein’ anvil out to the corral. He then tied it to the saddle on a 10-foot leash and cracked the whip.

The first thing Roy noticed was that an anvil is not near as heavy when it’s off the ground. The horse was racing around the pen, the anvil bouncing, whacking and whiplashing behind the frightened beast. Big pieces of old board and rotten post filled the air like a wood chipper. It sounded like a 747 crashing in a Redwood forest.

Roy stood frozen in the center, plastic whip limp in his good arm, as the board corral disintegrated around him.

When the big bay left the corral, the stirrups were bangin’ together over the top of his back and the anvil was in midair. It took the boys an hour to saddle up and track him. They found him five miles down the road. He had been subdued by a telephone pole. There were three dallys around the pole and the anvil hung chest high.

Of course, the bay looked no worse for wear. He was pickin’ at the weeds around the pole. Roy, however, was another story.

Baxter Black is a self-described cowboy poet, ex-veterinarian and sorry team roper. He can be contacted at 1-800-654-2550 or by e-mail at: