Diary of a Bronc
By John Erickson
May 1: Casey's my name, being an outlaw is my game. I'm five years old and never been rode. First man that tries me is going to get throwed. My momma ate dynamite and washed it down with gasoline. My old man ate pitchforks and barbed wire. He never walked around a tree…he'd kick it down and stomp on it. One time he got struck by lightning and the bolt broke into seven pieces. You can still see them lying out in the pasture.
I'm a bad dude, fellers, so give me room. The world owes me a living and I intend to collect. If I kill a couple of cowboys along the way, it'll just be icing on my cake.
I want to hit the rodeo circuit, see. That's the place for this ol' boy: show biz, the easy life. Work eight seconds a week, man, throw a snuff-dippin' cowboy through the fence, and then eat good hay and rest of the time.
But, hey baby, I'm stuck out here on a nickel and dime cattle ranch in Texas. Ain't no bright lights around here. Ain't no excitement. The company's dull. My public's waiting for me up in Cheyenne. Got to get out of this place.
May 4: Man, these horses I have to live with are old and tired. Like their idea of excitement is bitin' each other at the hay feeder. Ain't that wild? Ain't that western? What a bunch of scrubs.
Yesterday, old fat-boy Happy took a bite out of the Shetland and ran him around the corral. Thought he was pretty tough. I said, "Say, hoss, try that little action on me."
Well, he tried it. If he hadn't weighed 1,200, I'd have kicked him clean through the calf shed. Then that little Cookie mare came along, had her ears pinned back, trying to look mean. I cleaned house on her and said, "Okay, who's next?"
That's when old Popeye came up. He's, ahem, the elder statesman of the horse pasture. He'll weigh 1,300, but he don't fight. Like he's above that childish stuff. He's got dignity.
"Casey," he said, "you're causing a lot of trouble around here." And I replied, "You got it right, Pops, only I ain't really got cranked up yet. When I do, y'all better hunt a hole."
"One of these days you're going to come to grief."
"You going to do it?"
"I might play a small part in it."
Man, I laughed in his face. "You handle the preachin', Pops, and I'll take care of the outlaw stuff, okay?" The old fool just walked away. What could he say?
May 5: Life's getting exciting. The cowboys think it’s time I was broke. This morning they tried to catch me. That was a scream. Like, they tried to slip up and put a halter on me, talking that "whoa, boy, easy bronc" stuff. They got me in a corner, see, and thought they had me licked. Heh. I took the top two boards out of the corral fence and went on my way. Next time, I'll flatten the whole corral and stomp on it.
May 6: They got a rope halter on me. Ran me into a chute before I could really get my destructive trip going. Ah, who cares? A halter don't mean nothin' to me. I'll just break it.
May 7: Didn't I say I'd break that halter? They tied me to a post, see, and I just went back on the rope and, bingo, no more halter. Kind of wish it hadn't broke. Had my heart set on jerking that post out of the ground.
May 8: These cowboys don't give up. They put a heavy nylon halter on me and they've got some kind of new rig on the snubbing post. They tied an inner tube to the post and they're fixing to tie me to the inner tube. That's cool. I'd just as soon tear up an inner tube as anything else.
Later: Inner tubes don't tear up so easy. I fought that thing for an hour and a half and I'm so tired I can hardly move. That's okay, it's all going according to my plan. Tomorrow I'm going to give them total destruction: post, inner tube, ropes, halter, corrals, barns, the whole son of a buck. When I get done, man, we going to have a big pile of toothpicks up here.
May 9: I ain't never been treated like this before. They stuck me on that danged inner tube and sacked me out till the world looked level. High Loper had a saddle blanket and Slim used his vest, and fellers, they worked me over. I gave it my best shot, but I got a feeling that I lost. Okay, I've played around long enough. Tomorrow: total, absolute, utter destruction. Cowboys too.
May 10: Maybe tomorrow.
May 11: I got a funny feeling about this deal. That inner tube has wore me plumb out. The harder I pull back on it, the harder it slings me into the post. It could be a losing proposition.
May 12: Ha! They just throwed a saddle on Popeye and snapped a lead rope onto my halter. They think Popeye's going to take me out into the pasture for a little stroll. Well, hey, I got news for them. They beat me on the inner tube, but when they put me one on one against another horse, man, we going to have some violence. I got a few tricks saved up for Popeye.
Later: Pops is stouter than you might think. I guess you might say that I'm halter-broke. Slim snubbed me up to Popeye. I went back on the rope and fought like a wildcat. Figured I could jerk Pops off his feet. Pops jerked me off my feet, out of my tracks, darned near out of my skin, and hauled me around the pasture like I was nothing but a smoked ham on a piece of string. I fought him for a hundred yards, man, and decided that dignity didn't hurt him none in the stouts department. I got whiplash all the way from my nose to the tip of my tail. May have to change my strategy.
May 13: Say, baby, what is this? Did I hear High Loper say that he's going to climb on my back today? No way is that dude going to climb on my back, cause my momma ate dynamite and washed it down with….."
Later: He did it.
May 14: He did it again. These guys don't play fair. They won't fight me when I'm fresh and full of vinegar. They put me on that inner tube, and then they hook me up to Pops and let him drag me around the pasture until I'm tired. By the time they start climbing into the saddle, I'm bushed, man, pooped. It ain't fair.
May 15: I'm beat. I surrender. They're winning.
May 16: Actually, it ain't so bad. Today I learned a little bit about neck reining. I've learned how to stop, and go, and back up on command. I hate to admit it, but I'm kind of proud of myself.
May 17: Loper and I made our first solo trip out in the pasture. I did a good job, I tried hard. I think Loper was proud of me.
May 20: We worked cattle today for the first time. Know what? I'm good at this, I really am, and derned if I don't kind of enjoy it.
June 2: I went to my first roundup today. I wasn't the star of the show, but I held my territory and did my job. I've noticed that the other horses are nicer to me now. They treat me with respect.
July 15: I guess I'll never make it to the Cheyenne rodeo, but I've sort of lost my desire for the high life. I've got a good job here, friends, a nice place to live. Maybe that's enough.
August 15: We've got a new colt in the herd. Name's Chief, thinks he's hot stuff, says they're never going to break him to ride.
I had a little talk with him. I said "You see that big horse over there? His name's Popeye, and he's mucho caballo. When the time comes, he'll make a Christian out of you."
The kid laughed in my face, called me an old duffer. These danged kids. They've got no respect for their elders. You can't tell them anything. I think this younger generation is going to Hell in a bucket.
Always remember that feeling of looking at a big, open country over the ears of a good horse, seeing a new trail unwind ahead of you, and that ever-spectacular view from the top of the ridge!!! Follow my training blog: http://robertsontraining.blogspot.com/