MEMO ON MULES by S. Omar Barker (1895-1985)

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photo ©2017, Sandy Seaton Sallee; request permission for use

MEMO ON MULES
by S. Omar Barker (1895-1985)

There ain’t no use in talkin’,
When a feller rides a mule,
He’s got himself a saddle mount
That’s mighty hard to fool.
Some horses step right in a bog
without a second glance,
But jassacks simply don’t believe
in takin’ any chance.
They’ll fool around a barbed wire fence
the same as horses, but
You purt near never see a mule
that’s got a barbed-wire cut.
You let a horse get to the grain,
he’ll founder on the stuff,
But mules, by instinct, seem to know
when they have had enough.

Some mules will spook and run away,
some throw a buckin’ fit,
But panicky is something that
they seldom ever git,
For when they pull a ruckus,
they are always plumb alert
To see that Mr. Jackass
never winds up gittin’ hurt.

Most cowboys think a jassack
is a plumb disgraceful mount,
And it is true that some of them
ain’t very much account
For anything but harness
or to tote a heavy pack,
And horses have some virtues
that a mule may often lack;
But ol’ Kit Carson rode a mule,
and other pioneers
Sure viewed a heap of country
over some ol’ hard-tail’s ears.
And all of them reported that
upon the longest trail,
The mule was one tough critter
that was never knowed to fail.
He’d stay plumb fat on grass so short
a horse would starve to death.
He never lathered easy
and was seldom short of breath.
Kit claimed his gait was easy
on the rider in the kack,
And that he’d always git you there
and always bring you back.

This ain’t no fancy eulogy
on big-eared saddle mounts,
But some oldtimers rode ’em,
and by most of their accounts
Of jassacks under saddle,
in the smooth or in the rough,
There seems to be some evidence
that mules have got the stuff!

…by S. Omar Barker, from Rawhide Rhymes; used with the permission of the estate of S. Omar Barker

S. Omar Barker was one of the founders of the Western Writers of America, Inc. and many of his poems were published by Western Horseman.

It’s told that Barker enjoyed signing his name with his brand, created from his initials and the “S” laid sideways for “Lazy SOB,” but, that’s not a completely accurate story. In an article written by Barker for a March/April 1972 issue of Hoofs and Horns magazine, Barker introduces himself, “…This S.O.B. (my initials, not my ancestry) has never claimed to qualify as a sure ‘nough cowboy.” Later in the article, he comments, “Incidentally, when I applied for (Lazy S O B) for our cattle brand, they wrote back that some other S O B already had it. So we had to be satisfied with (Lazy S B).” (Thanks to Andy Hedges for sharing the article, which he received from Vess Quinlan, who received it from Joel Nelson who received it from Kay Kelley Nowell. We are still looking for the date.).

Find more about S. Omar Barker at CowboyPoetry.com.

This recent photo, which has had a viral popularity on Facebook, is by poet and wilderness guide Sandy Seaton Sallee, taken of her husband Scott riding a mule and leading 14 more out of their wilderness camp.

Sandy and Scott run Black Mountain Outfitters,  located in the heart of Paradise Valley, just north of Yellowstone National Park in Montana and also Slough Creek Outfitters, , offering world-famous Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout fishing. Find more about Sandy Seaton Sallee at blackmountainoutfitters.com and at CowboyPoetry.com.

Enjoy these additional photos from the Sallees:

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photo ©2017, Sandy Seaton Sallee; request permission for use

ssm1
photo ©2017, Sandy Seaton Sallee; request permission for use

ssm3

photo ©2017, Sandy Seaton Sallee; request permission for use

ssm4

photo ©2017, Sandy Seaton Sallee; request permission for use