THE OLD COW PONY by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)



by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

Hello there old feller, I’m speaking to you.
No need to look at me the way that you do.
When we git acquainted I think you will find,
I know quite a bit about you and your kind.

With your wicked bright eyes and your rough shaggy coat,
And about as sure footed and tough as a goat.
You was chuck full of Hell from your nose to your tail.
You came North with the herds when they drove the long trail.

Through the heat and the dust when the goin’ was hard.
Out in the dim star light you held the lone guard.
On the dark stormy night when the herd would stampede,
You carried the riders that “Bended the lead.”

You was never a thing to be petted or trusted.
Most every old cow poke has bones that you busted
But them old boys swear by you. You bet they all do.
And they’d like to build statues to hosses like you.

by Bruce Kiskaddon

This poem, with its illustration by Katherine Field (1908-1951), appeared in the Los Angeles Union Stock Yards calendar and the Western Livestock Journal in 1938. The next year, it was included in A Souvenir from ‘The Trading Post’ Golden Gate International Competition (San Francisco, 1939). It was also included in Kiskaddon’s 1947 book, Rhymes of the Ranges.

As we’ve told in the past, we know these details thanks to the work of Bill Siems, who collected almost all of Kiskaddon’s nearly 500 poems and much information about him in his 2006 book, Open Range.

Kiskaddon and artist Katherine Field collaborated on works for the Los Angeles Union Stockyards calendar and the Western Livestock Journal from 1936 to 1942, when she had to stop working to take care of her ailing parents and her children. In 1949 they renewed their partnership. Kiskaddon died in 1950 and had written six-month’s worth of poems in advance. Field illustrated them all before her own death in 1951.The two never met in person.

Find more about Kiskaddon and more about Siems’ book at in our Kiskaddon features.