THE BRONCO by Henry Herbert Knibbs (1874-1945)



by Henry Herbert Knibbs (1874-1945)

The bronco’s mighty wild and tough,
And full of outdoor feelin’s:
His feet are quick, his ways are rough,
He’s careless in his dealin’s.

Each mornin’ he must have his spree,
And hand you plenty trouble
A-pitchin’ round the scenery
Till you are seein’ double.

Or mebby-so, you think he’s broke,
And do a little braggin’;
“Plumb gentle hoss!” he sees the joke,
And leaves—with reins a-draggin’.

Or, mebby-so, you think he’ll jump
That little three-foot railin’:
When all he does is stop and hump,
And stay—while you go sailin’.

But when his pitchin’ fit is done,
And ropin’, cuttin’, brandin’,
Is on the bill—I’ll tell you son,
He works with understandin’.

At workin’ stock he’s got his pride:
—Dust rollin’, boys a-yellin’—
He’ll turn your steer, and make you ride,
And he don’t need no tellin’.

Perhaps you’re standin’ middle-guard,
Or ridin’ slow, night-hawkin’:
And then your bronc is sure your pard,
At loafin’, or at walkin’.

Or, when the lightnin’ flashes raw,
And starts the herd a-flyin’,
He’s off to head ’em down the draw,
Or break your neck, a-tryin’.

A bronc he sure will take his part,
At gettin’ there or stayin’:
He’ll work until he breaks his heart,
Be he don’t sabe playin’.

He may be wild, he may be tough,
And full of outdoor feelin’s:
But he’s all leather, sure enough,
And he puts through his dealin’s.

….by Henry Herbert Knibbs, from Saddle Songs and Other Verse, 1922

Henry Herbert Knibbs wrote stories, poems and novels. He never worked as a cowboy, but he was a student of the West and his friendships, including one with cowboy, rancher, and writer Eugene Manlove Rhodes informed his work. His poems are still often recited today, including “Boomer Johnson,” “The Walking Man,” “Shallows of the Ford,” and “So Long, Chinook!”

Find more about Knibbs and more of his poetry at

This image is from a c.1908 reproduction of an 1888 wood engraving by great Western artist Fredric Remington (1861-1909). It’s from The Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. Find more about it here.

(This poem and image are in the public domain.)