Saturday, May 31, 2014

Horse Sense

The two old ranchers sat on the front porch of Mike's house, where they had a good view of the Brazos River two hundred feet below the high point of land where the house was located.  They were enjoying the end of the weekend by playing dominoes and drinking sweet tea.

"My son, Matt, brought us a new movie to watch," Mike said.  "The Lone Ranger.  Damnedest thing you've ever seen.  They had that horse, Silver, running on the roof of a train."

"Horse survive?" asked Kent as he placed a domino.  "Fifteen points."

Mike wrote down the points, then said, "The hero's horse always survives.  He has to ride off into the sunset during the credits."

"The horses in these movies don't get much attention any more.  Used to be that the horses were half the show.  Now, the only time they even mention the horses is at the end of the movie when they tell us that none of the animals used in the movie were hurt.  Damn, I'm going to have to draw half the bone yard before I can play."

Mike placed a domino and said, "Twenty points, thank you for the four to play on.   Used to be that the cowboy smiled at the schoolmarm and kissed his horse.  Now, you hardly see the horse and the cowboys kiss each other.  You know, the Lone Ranger's first horse wasn't Silver.  On the radio program...first, he had a horse named Dusty, then he got Silver.  And Tonto rode White Feller before he got Scout."

"And some horses had more than one cowboy," Kent said.  "That big buckskin that Marshall Dillon rodeBuckwas the same horse that Ben Cartwright rode on Bonanza.  I guess they time-shared it."

"Yeah."  Mike played his last domino.  "No points, but I'm out.  How much you got for me?"

"Twenty-five," Kent said, as he turned his dominoes up.

Mike wrote down the points and said, "Your shuffle.  Did you know that the Lone Ranger's horse  was the same horse that Gerald O'Hara was riding in Gone With The Wind when he broke his neck?"

"Nope, never knew that," Kent said, as he drew seven dominoes.   "Did you know that John Wayne had two horses named Dollar and Dollor?  Ol' Dollor got an honorable mention in Wayne's last movie, The Shootist.  Truth is, Wayne never really liked riding horses.  He claimed he never rode a horse unless he was paid for it.  You gonna play?"

"Double five," Mike said.  "When Wayne started out, he had to share his billing with a horse called Duke the Miracle Horsehis horse was called Duke before he was.  Tom Mix had Tony the Wonder Horse and Hopalong Cassidy rode Topper."

"Zorro's black stallion was named Tornado, Gene Autry had Champion, and Festus rode Ruth.  I'll take ten, too," said Kent.

"Festus don't count!he rode a mule."

"Okay, okay!  The Cisco Kid had Diablo, Roy Rogers rode Trigger and Dale Evans rode Buttermilk.  What's the spinner?" asked Kent.

Mike pointed at the double five and said, "Well, he was only in one movie, but Pancho Villa rode a horse called Siete Leguas."

"Well, if you're gonna get historical, Alexander the Great had a horse named Bucephalus.  Five points and out," said Kent as he played his last domino.

"You get ten off me and you won the shuffle.  Caesar rode a horse called Toes while he conquered Gaul."

'Yeah, I know, you went to school," said Kent.  "Robert E. Lee rode Traveler.  Six-four, give me ten."

"Six-One for five.  Custer rode Vic that last day," said Mike.  "What did General Grant ride?"

"Who gives a damn?  Teddy Roosevelt rode Little Texas up San Juan Hill," said Kent.

"Hard to beat Little Texas," Mike said.  "Did you hear about the Baptist preacher that was out fishing along the Brazos River and he happened to drop his favorite bible on the river path?  Three days later, a horse walked up to him carrying his bible in his mouth.  The preacher got all excited, fell to his knees and exclaimed, 'It's a miracle!'  'Not really,' said the horse.  'Your name is written inside the cover.' "

"It's too dark to play, anymoreI can't see the spots on the bones," said Kent.  "But, I got one more for you.  Years ago, I had this special quarter horse.  This Yankee came down and fell in love with it, he just had to have it.  He offered me so much money that I went ahead and sold it.  The Yankee jumped up on the horse and yelled, 'Giddyup!'  The horse didn't budge, so I explained that this was a Baptist horse and it wouldn't move until you said, 'Praise The Lord!' and it would't stop until you said 'Amen!' "

"Well," continued Kent.  "That fool Yankee screamed 'Praise the Lord!' and the quarter horse took off like a stabbed rat, running straight for the bluff overlooking the river.  That Yankee was screaming and yanking at the reins until the last possible moment when he remembered and hollered 'Amen!' and that horse slid to a stop just inches from the edge of the bluff!"

"Then what happened?" asked Mike.

"Damn fool looked up to God and whispered, 'Praise the Lord.', said Kent.


  1. That's funny, I don't care who you are. Grant's horse by the way was "Cincinnati" (not sure whether it was for the city or the Roman guy.

    1. Well, I'm just a poor dumb ol' country boy, but Grant started the war on Methuselah. Then he confiscated a horse from the plantation of Jefferson Davis that he called Jeff Davis. He also rode Fox, Kangaroo, and Jack. The first horse he rode into battle was Rondy. When he became famous, people all over the country sent him cigars (supposedly in the tens of thousands (and considering how he died, he may have smoked them all) and more than a few horses. Cincinnati was sired out of the fastest horse in the country at the time, Lexington. Grant was given the horse in '64 and it became famous when he rode it to the Appomattox meeting with Lee. That is the horse you see Grant riding on his famous statue in Washington.

  2. It does fit the story better that he said, "Who gives a damned?" with regard to Grant's horse. A lot of older Texans think Grant fought on the wrong side of things anyway. My ancestors, were of a different mind and participated in the underground railroad and did a little guerrilla action, sabotage and such in East Texas during the War of Northern Aggression. We were conscientious objectors who did NOT believe in slavery (though screwing up the railroad tracks might have been considered an act of righteousness by some of my more militant co-religionists). I read Grant's autobiography and he did ride a lot of horses come to think of it. I always liked that Mark Twain, a Southerner, came to his aid at the end of his life and helped him get his autobiography published in time to leave something behind for his family. Presidents didn't have quite the retirement plan back then, nor good health and life insurance.

  3. My dog-eared copy of Grant's memoirs is close to my desk. That was the first book Twain's publishing company purchased, and the book has never been out of print. Poor Grant was painfully dying of esophageal cancer as he wrote it, and since he had been paid in advance, he could have either cut the job short or taken laudanum, but he said the drug make it hard to think clearly. My copy of the book has 682 pages.

    I make my military history students read the chapter about the Mexican American War. Think of that--no one would have cared if he had only written about the Civil War, no one, I guess, but Grant.

    Hard to find many presidents with that much honor and courage