All my life, I've had a love affair with the horse. Somewhere, in a box, there is a photo of me, at the age of two, sitting atop a pinto pony, with a huge French bonnet, lace socks, and a dress. While rather unconventional, the smile on my face was genuine.
I think I read every book with a horse on the cover. From Misty of Chicoteague, (a must for those living in the Old Dominion), to Smokey the cow horse, and every book in the Black Stallion series by Walter Farley. I coveted pictures of Man O' War. I rode my bicycle as if it were a magnificent steed. Finally, my parents relented and purchased me a half Arabian/ half Hackney named Sussan. For twenty - eight years were were inseparable. I rode the TV plains with the Cartwrights,explored Wyoming with the Men from Shiloh, and made it from east to west via the Wagon train. Through all this, there is one think I learned, a good cowboy is nothing without his trusty steed.
With no mass transportation in the early west the horse was and in some cases, still is essential for covering the terrain and helping the cowboy to do the mundane daily chores around a ranch. A good cowboy was worthless without his horse. It was an extension of himself. A ranch hand needed a horse that had good cow sense, was bomb proof ( didn't get upset at loud noises or unusual situations ), and smart enough to follow the subtle shifts in his weight or press of his heels.
If you ever have the chance to watch a cutting horse work a herd and pick out a single cow to separate from the bunch, it is a beautiful dance. There is little conversation between horse and rider. Pressure on the reins, a touch of the heels, and the rider shifting low in the saddle to give the horse his head allowing him to do the job he was bred for.
The American Quarter Horse is a mixture of Arabian, Spanish, and English horses was bred specifically for ranch work. Sturdy animals with a large chest to accommodate a large heart and lung compacity, their legs sturdy and muscular to keep up the pace with the work that needs to be done on the open range.
So here's to the horse and the cowboy. May the romance of the west continue in their image.
By the way, can you match the horse and their famous rider?
1. Lone Ranger A. Cochise
2. Tonto B. Buttermilk
3. Pancho C. Scout
4. Cisco Kid D. Silver
5. Dale Evans E. Diablo
6. Roy Rodgers F. Loco
7. Little Joe Cartwright G. Trigger
I'll post answers later today.