April 17, 2007

A Trajectory Off Course

Time for another bucking horse poem. As I mentioned in a previous post (Aroma Therapy)
there are many cowboy poems on the subject. Horses buck for a variety of reasons. The reason the one in this poem went to bucking was that as a colt he still had his wolf teeth, which interfered with the snaffle bit, causing quite some pain. The bucking was a reaction to the pain. Wolf teeth are small shallow rooted teeth, usually in the upper gum only, set just in front of the first molar - in the space where the bit normally goes. Wolf teeth have no use and no value and are extracted, often during castration. If you are unlucky enough to hit them with the bit during a training exercise, hang onto your hat or you might lose it at about the same time as you lose your seat and go airborne.

Don't miss out on viewing the video at then end of the poem - it is an actual vintage film from Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. Notice the guy on the fence shooting into the corral to keep the poor horse a bucking. That seems a little inhumane from today's perspective. Rodeo broncs have a cinch placed behind the ribcage that provokes bucking. For a good saddle horse, the best policy is no buck at all.

A Trajectory Off Course
by Paul Kern

A hollow wrenchin’ in the gut comes on a little cold,
As you climb aboard that unbroke colt and go to take a hold,
You know well what to expect and can feel it in each bone,
So many have been broken, this feelin’ is well known.

Though you hate for young horses to ply the buckin’ trade,
And do your best to hide from them this talent God has made,
By sackin’ out and round pen work and easy as she goes,
But some just have a knack to launch a rider ‘fore he knows.

They call ‘em athletic, they’re just heedin’ nature’s call,
They’ve a well-formed hip and overstep and seem a little tall,
Not mean by disposition just sensitive about the girth,
Gotta get ‘em past this so they can claim their right of birth.

Someone has to climb aboard and be willin’ to pull leather,
Could be you or maybe me, odd ducks of different feather.
So you ask me what it’s like atop a buckin’ horse,
And how it feels to lose your seat in a trajectory off course.

Well first of all I have to say that it’ll nearly always hurt,
To hit the ground at runnin’ speed face down in rocks and dirt,
In my time I’ve tried out gravel, pavement, dirt and sand,
Regardless though the bruises come no matter where you land.

When you see him bog his head and hump his saddleback,
And he’s pullin’ at the reins and hogs up all the slack,
And fakes a lope to fool you just to catch you off your guard,
It’s too late to recuperate ‘cause you’re airborne now old pard’.

The highest that I’ve ever flown is five feet over saddle,
For ten feet up and ten feet fore – and thus begun the battle.
There are some things you have to know before you pick a fight,
Some horses buck up leftwards and some buck to the right.

Somehow you need to figure out how landin’ hurts the least,
I light upon my left where I don’t seem to get so creased,
I’ve learned to tuck ‘em in – my wrists into each arm,
But never seem to walk away from havin’ done a little harm.

At first when you take flight you think your life is at its end,
Below you see your saddle movin’ out upon your friend.
The ground always seems to come up faster than it should,
Your hip and leg hit first, then the other strikes like wood.

Your teeth all grind together as your head flops to the ground,
Your eyes and ears fill up with dirt, you can’t hardly hear a sound,
You catch your wind and check your bones and try to find your feet,
Your elbow rips through your sleeve and your face flushes with heat.

Your colt is still a buckin’ like some demon straight from hell,
But you know that in a minute he’ll calm down for a spell,
So you get back up and get back on and find he’s good to go,
You work him hard and work him fast - he’s run out of fits to throw.

From Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show

United States : Edison Manufacturing Co., [1894]
From Raff & Gammon price list: An out-of-door scene. The men and horse of this subject are from "Buffalo Bill's Wild West." 15.00.
From Edison films catalog: A fine exhibition of horsemanship by Lee Martin, a genuine cowboy. This particular broncho is an unusually wicked one. 40 feet. $6.00. Copyright: no reg.

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