Baxter Black: About horses I’ve known
October 2, 2015
About horses I've known… My first was named Maggie. A Standard bred. I was in the third grade. Father gave me an old cavalry saddle, split down the middle, light enough I could lift it. It was so uncomfortable I rode bareback. I went to a one-room schoolhouse with six grades. I was the only kid in the third grade! Our house was on one side of the horse pasture and the schoolhouse was on the other. I rode Maggie to school and walked home.
When we moved from Texas to New Mexico, my new horse was named Buck. He was a good horse to grow up on. In the ensuing years in Colorado I've had Cricket, who went with the divorce, Coyote, who raised my daughter, Bay who had ring bone, Leo, a rope horse who wore a bikini top over his right eye to keep him from turning out, one with a King Ranch brand who tore down my tack room, Reven Bubba, a colt, then Sonny, a left-handed heeling horse. Not to mention several I just bought and sold.
In Arizona, we made Sonny a ranch horse. Others followed; Rex Allen who raised my son, Paint that I took in trade for speaking to the Paint Association, Chaco, who became my "movie" horse in addition to his ranching responsibilities, Maria, a paint mare that I traded for Winchester who had a little Thoroughbred in him, and Tom Perry, a solid buckskin. Today we have Copper, Missy, José, straight from Mexico, and Bravo who is as big as a school bus. They all do ranch work.
In my life of travelin', I've ridden many borrowed horses on trail rides, at ropings, parades and grand openings, but one deserves my highest praise. I was participating in the Reba/Ben Johnson Celebrity Roping at Gaylord Arena in Gutherie, Oklahoma. Red Steagall lent me his ambidextrous white horse named Toby. I drew up with Fred Whitfield, eight times World Championship roper. I saw Fred during the afternoon practice warm up. It was a little intimidating. I was horseless, afoot and USTRC ranked as #2 in skill, which is like kindergarten level. He rode over to me and said, looking down from his throne, "You just go out there and rope him, if you can, and if, by some chance you do I'll rope the heels."
I stammered, "Uh…I'm left-handed."
He looked at me like I'd just pooped on the carpet, turned his horse and rode away.
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That evening he said, "Okay, I'll rope him and try to drag him real slow so you might be able to catch at least one foot."
I said, "Fred, rope him as fast as you can and turn him hard."
He gave me the eagle eye. I could imagine him thinkin', "He ain't seen nothin' yet."
I climbed on Toby, in Red's saddle and backed in the box. We roped the first one in 9.0. When we came tight Fred looked across the steer at me and said, "We might have a chance," and did his raise the roof hand gesture.
Was 27.7 seconds on our second steer and made the cut.
Our turn on the third go we did in 7.8. Fastest in the roping so far. Toby was PERFECT! We waited. The last team to go was a team of 19-year-old boys, Ty O'Neil and Trey Miller. What are the odds, I was thinkin'.
They shot out of the box like jet pilots! I think I saw contrails. Their ropes sang as they flew and in less time than it takes to drive a horseshoe nail, the horse faced and the crowd exploded! They landed 7.7 seconds.
Toby understood. He knew we just got lucky and proved my team roping philosophy; the farther you go down the arena, the faster the wheel comes off the wagon!