The Rodeo at the Horse Show
Photo courtesy of The Old Cowboy Archives
The Rodeo at the Horse Show.
When Baby Jim was a youngun and still eating vittles from his Mammy’s table, he had a few equine adventures.
Baby Jim’s Daddy had a good friend who had quite a few horses. In fact the man owned four different stallions of four different breeds and bred mares from all over the area. Now the mares this man owned were all Tennessee Walkers and that was his breed of choice. He had a beautiful big Walking Horse stallion and Baby Jim use to be the exercise boy for that horse. He was good enough that a trainer most often successfully showed him but Baby Jim rode him a lot to keep him in shape.
Baby Jim also started a lot of the walking horse colts and fillies and did the preliminary riding for the evaluation that determined if they were show horses, sale horses or potential breeding stock.
The owner also had a Shetland Pony Stallion who was used to drive to a cart and he was very pretty and well made and had a pretty good disposition for a pony stallion. He was sorrel with a flax mane and tail and was quite eye catching and popular.
There was an Appaloosa stallion that was white with the black spots and Baby Jim just never cared much for that horse. He was not very brainy and was often difficult to handle.
Then there was Lebo Judge. Lebo was a pretty little bay Quarter Horse. He was not very big but he was all horse and was a nice little stallion.
Every time the walking horse or the Shetland pony went to a show we would get several new bookings for them for mares from people who saw the stallions at the show. So going to horse shows became a small part of the marketing strategy for all of the stallions. Baby Jim and his dad usually took the Shetland or the App or Lebo. The trainer showed the Walking Horse.
We seldom took the Appaloosa as his trouble making nature did not seem to win him many friends and those who wanted his color genetics knew where he was.
We very often would take the Shetland or the Quarter horse and just kind of have em around to be seen. The quarter horse was so easy to handle that Baby Jim grew quite fond of him. He inquired if this horse had ever been ridden and no one knew. So Baby Jim decided to give him a try. It was quickly evident that if he had ever had a saddle on he had not worn it for long. So Baby Jim started to work with him. The horse was quite sensible and it was not very many days until Baby Jim was up and riding him in the practice ring. Another day or two and they were out riding around the farm.
Two things make Lebo memorable. The first was his speed. No one knew he could run. Baby Jim was out riding along a big hay meadow and let him out a little and noticed the horse was running effortlessly. Baby Jim made sure he had some brakes by stopping the horse without difficulty and then decided to see if he could run. They walked down to the far end of the field and then Baby Jim let him out. By gosh that horse could run………That was the fastest horse Baby Jim has ever been on. And when started from a standstill his power was going to pop your butt out of the saddle. He could run so fast that between the wind itself and the wind whipping the little stallions luxurious mane it was almost blinding and difficult to see without eyeware. He fit the old quarter horse description of “A sleepy little hoss that can unwind like lightning.”.
Baby Jim was letting him run one day when a bell hornet was flying in the opposite direction and hit Baby Jim square in the forehead. A bell hornet is the local term for a large hornet that is about an inch and a half long and brown and yellow in color. Their sting is ferocious but they are not terribly aggressive unless the nest is bothered. They fly very fast. The bell hornet was flying fast going south. Lebo Judge was flying fast going north and when the hornet hit Baby Jim, it did not sting him but did knock him off the back of the horse. Riderless, Lebo headed back to the barn at a high rate of speed, which is how the older generation regrettably, discovered he could run.
The other thing that makes Lebo stand out in memory was the rodeo ride. Baby Jim had not been riding him long when the owner decided that he needed to go to a local horse show to be seen. Mare bookings were evidently a little light. Baby Jim’s daddy was surprised to see Baby Jim toss his rig into the back of the truck but did not say anything. He did not know that Baby Jim had been riding the little stallion.
When they got there Baby Jim unloaded him and cleaned him up and walked him around a little to make sure the horse had brought his usual good disposition with him and to see what mares in heat needed to be avoided. The little stallion would not be any problem but sometimes those mares could cause problems on their own so Baby Jim had a policy of identifying and avoiding while at shows.
A little while later Baby Jim took the horse back to the truck and tacked him up and stepped up. Now the intent was not to show the horse but just to show him off and Baby Jim figured a good looking horse under saddle was a lot more impressive than one in a halter. Besides who wants to walk around all day at a horse show, leading a perfectly good horse. The old cowboy mantra was never walk anywhere that you can ride and you should be able to ride anywhere you go.
And Baby Jim was a good horseman and a good rider in those days and when he was mounted on a good horse it was one aspect of life that he was able to shine in and so the normally shy and plain kid was not above showing off a little bit while mounted. This tendency is what got him into trouble that day. Baby Jim rode the little stallion all over the show grounds. Thru traffic and kids and such and quietly worked on little training things and chatted with folks who noticed the little horse. He was feeling quite confident and had made several contacts about possible breedings. After all…..that was the purpose of being there. Even entered a couple of classes on the spur of the moment and Baby Jim was not a show cowboy.
It was a hot late spring Sunday and Baby Jim decided he could use a cold drink. He spied his dad along the ring watching the show and chatting with folks and he rode up to him. He said “ Hey Dad, hold this horse while I go get a soda.”. That is when the stoooopid kicked in and he tossed the reins to his paternal ancestor and went to step off. Not satisfied with one stoooopid move at a time, Mr. Hot stuff swung his right leg over the front rather than over the back. The little hoss tossed his head and Mr. Hot Stuff kicked him in the top of his neck with his boot heel.
The hoss put his head back down…….in fact he put it between his front feet and grunted and threw his butt toward the sun. And there it was. One stoooopid kid riding a green hoss with his right leg hooked around the saddle horn and no reins and the horse bucking for a fare ye well in the middle of the parking lot.
Funny how thoughts fire through the brain in times like that. Baby Jim recalls a series of thoughts. Damn, don’t fall off…..everybody is watching…….watch that car hoss…….If he runs into a car am I gonna have to pay for it……Old man will kill me……If this hoss throws me into a car he might kill me……for gods sake, Move lady…..hope no one else gets hurt…….your are still riding……get control of this hoss.
Baby Jim had quickly gotten his leg back in place from the horn but never found the stirrup. The little hoss was bucking hard but it was honest and rhythmic and actually pretty easy to ride. Then Baby Jim heard the Public address announcer calling the action in the parking lot and yelling Ride Em Cowboy. After a few near misses with automobiles Baby Jim finally managed to snag the left rein and pulled the little hosses head around and he lifted it. Baby Jim managed to lean down again and snag the right rein and had em both on the left but was back in control. Lebo quit bucking and dropped to a crow hoppy trot and they made a loop around the grounds and came back to where it all started and Baby Jim stopped him and dismounted like someone who had a brain. That was the only time that horse ever had a bad moment and it was not at all his fault. No one got hurt. No automobiles were damaged. The horse came through it without incident or injury and no lasting effects. Baby Jim rode and sat on him the rest of the afternoon to prove to prospective customers that the horse was all right and only the rider was insane.
Lebo’s speed was his undoing. Someone found out he could run and offered a good price for him. He went on the track and won a few races but as he moved up in class he began to get beat. Someone else bought him and he became a polo pony. When Baby Jim trundled off to an institution of attempted higher learning, he lost track of the fine little hoss but his love of quarter horses had been ignited.
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