A little more than a decade ago my brother and his friend from the east coast both took their two children (four kids total) on a pack trip into the Wyoming mountains. They hired Rick as their Wrangler. Rick was evidently the quintessential cowboy with a beer and the reins of his horse in one hand, and a cigarette and the reins of several pack horses in the other, ready to head 'em out. They all rode horses into a beautiful mountain lake to camp and fish for a few days. In the evenings, some pretty good stories were told around the campfire. One of Rick's pack horses was named Tippy, and he related a memorable true story about his experiences with this fine horse. After the pack trip, my brother Dennis, Cory, and I put this story into poetry form, and it was published in the WREN: Wyoming Rural Electric News. I came across it today and thought it was worthy of a blog. Grab your s'mores and campfire coffee and enjoy.
Tippy, the Trick Horse
Written by Dennis Jones, Nancy Jones, and Cory Johnson
When Tippy was a yearling,
He showed what he was about.
He survived the worst of winters,
The coldest Dubois could dish out.
The frost bit hard upon his ears
And chewed the tips clean off.
Most folks would see his rounded ears
And snicker, grin, or scoff.
I reckon horses get their names
Like Blackie, Buck, or Spot
By what they do, or how they look,
Not by what they haven’t got.
We tried to get young Tippy
To learn the rodeo.
But he’d a rather played with clowns
Or do the do-si-do.
So he got passed over for cowboy sense
And was sold time after time.
Till one old boy, saw talent there
And bought him for a dime.
He taught Tippy how to count
And untie knots in his rope.
Tippy’s ability to clown around
Gave this rodeo trick horse hope.
But when his clowin’ days were over,
He was faced with a new career choice.
However, there’s not much to choose from
In Lander, Riverton, or Dubois.
The new home in an outfitter camp
Was a whole new gig for him.
Carryin’ 80 pounds of campin’ gear,
Atop of Ramshorn Rim.
Yet, around the evening campfire
He continued his clowning skills.
He’d untie his rope, nudge a cowboy,
And knock him over just for thrills.
But this goofin’ around was just a prelude.
There was method in his madness.
He’d wait till everyone was sleepin’
Then rob the horse cake wrapped in canvas.
Pretty clever so you’d think
Till the wrangler would be ponder’n,
“Without that horse cake, how’m I gonna stop
The rest of these horses from wander’n?”
Tippy pulled this stunt once too many times
With a wrangler he shouldn’t oughta.
This wrangler Rick had rodeo mileage
And recognized Tippy’s alma mater.
To break this clever horse
Of the life of crime he lead,
Rick would use that horse cake as a pillow,
Guarding it with his head.
The first two nights went dandy
In fact, went just as planned.
When Tippy tried to steal the cake,
Rick smacked him with his hand.
The lessons really seemed to take;
The next night was not the same.
Tippy didn’t come around the campfire.
Had he given up on this game?
Rick fell asleep on his horse cake pillow,
But was wakened by the nudge.
If this stubborn horse wants to do the crime,
Rick’s hand will be the judge!
Rick wound up and smacked him on the head.
And just to make the point real clear,
At the risk of waking everyone up,
Yelled, “Tippy get outa here!”
When morning dawned and Rick woke up,
He’d sensed something wasn’t right.
Tippy was standing in the corral
With his rope… in a knot… tied tight.
Rick scratched his head in confusion;
He looked at the ground in despair.
The tracks all around his bedroll
Were not of a horse,…but a bear!