“Renaming His Horse,” Bill Owen (1942-2013)
WHEN HE COLD JAWS
by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)
When you set in the saddle and up on a hoss,
You get the idea that yore mebbyso boss.
Yore feet in the stirrups, yore hands on the reins,
You feel like the Lord of the mountains and plains.
Like you run the whole country and made all the laws;
But the difference it makes when yore pony cold jaws.
You jump a few wild ones and start to turn ’em.
Then try to break past and you reckon you’ll learn ’em.
You raise in your stirrups and lift fer a run,
But you haven’t gone far till you see what you’ve done.
They race down a hill and make fer a draw,
Then yore hoss slings his head and you feel him cold jaw.
His head in the crown piece, he shore does know how,
He is after his head and he’s got it right now.
You use all the stren’th in yore arms and yore shoulders.
He knocks the sparks out of the slide rocks and boulders.
A mighty sick feelin’ comes into yore craw,
Fer you never did think that this hoss would cold jaw.
It ain’t no use to pull. The reins tear through yore grip.
He crashes through brush and you feel yore clothes rip.
About all you can do is to hang on and ride.
You feel the cold sweat breakin’ out on yore hide.
You had run past yore cattle the last that you saw
And yore horse races on with an iron cold jaw.
At last he gets winded. You bend the old brute.
One sole is tore loose from the toe of yore boot.
The stock you was after, you nere will know
Which way or direction they happen to go.
You have left half yore shirt on a bunch of cat claw,
Fer it shore wrecks a hand when his hosses cold jaw.
by Bruce Kiskaddon, “Rhymes of the Ranges,” 1947
Bruce Kiskaddon drew on his cowboying experiences for his poetry. Find much more about him in features at CowboyPoetry.com.
This painting, “Renaming His Horse,” is by the great and much missed Bill Owen, (1942-2013).
The painting received the Cowboy Artists of America 2003 Artist’s Choice award, an honor bestowed by members for the best overall exhibition. The Cowboy Artists of America celebrate their 51st anniversary starting October 13, 2016 at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. (See the complete catalogs for the Cowboy Artists of America and the associated Traditional Cowboy Artists here.)
At the Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry, we were honored to have Bill Owen’s “Born to This Land” as the 2010 Cowboy Poetry Week poster art.
Special thanks to Valerie Owen Fillhouer for her generous permission for the use of this image.
(Please respect copyright. You can share this image with this post, but for any other use, please request permission. The poem is in the public domain.)