by Gary Robertson
Ruby was born on the Home Place in ’32
Grandad told Daddy he could call her his own.
From the stories I’ve heard from my Daddy,
From that day on he was rarely alone.
Her mama, she worked ‘tween the traces
So Ruby would be left in the pen
By the time they had worked to the end of a row
That little filly would be right there with them.
Grandad said she was half Pinto ‘n half Whitetail deer
Cleared every fence that they had on the place.
Oh, he’d fuss ’bout just how ornery she was
But always with a smile on his face.
When it came time for breakin’ ‘n trainin’
Daddy swears she taught him how to ride
Still today when talks ’bout Ruby
His eyes, they just light up with pride.
See, they were playmates, ‘n buddies, ‘n partners
Each gettin’ so much more than they gave
They were young, they were strong, they were carefree
They were innocent, they were brave.
With his rifle, a sack lunch, ‘n a bottle of pop
They’d set out at the first light of day
‘Though he was a kid, there was work to be done
But still time for adventure ‘n to play.
Dad would ride Ruby, as he followed the cows
That grazed on the south railroad lease
Some days he was a drover on the Old Chisholm Trail
Some days, Tom Mix, keepin’ the peace.
Folks, Ruby gave him his first taste of freedom
She gave him her soul ‘n her heart
He gave her his dreams ‘n his boyhood
Took a war to pull them apart.
His first year away, he built airplanes
The next four, fightin’ the war.
By the time he got home, missed a third of her life
‘N maybe a few months more.
His first day back, he walked out to the trap
Whistled her up, ‘n let out a yell
She picked up her head, took a few halting steps,
Then came runnin’, like a bat out-a Hell.
Their reunion was sweet, but a short one
Time had done what Time always does.
Ruby was not part of “What’s yet to be.”
She was part of a life “That once was.”
The G.I. Bill, a walk down the aisle
Then us kids, a house, ‘n career
We’d only get back to the Home Place
A couple-a times a year.
But, the first horse that I rode was Old Ruby
Slid down her neck, when she bent down to eat
No, I wasn’t much of a horseman yet,
But in diapers, a feller can’t take a deep seat.
Today, my whole life revolves ’round horses
You could say I fell under the spell
That Ruby could weave ’round a young boy’s heart
Folks, it’s a magic she worked awful well.
When I was little, I wanted Grandad to say she was mine
Now, I know why that couldn’t be
I see that Ruby was still giving to my Daddy
When she lit this fire in me.
Ruby lived out her days on the Home Place
But, for me, her last chorus has yet to be sung
‘Cause in memories, ‘n stories, ‘n pictures
She and Daddy are forever young.
There’s a painting, up over the mantel
Made from a snap-shot, tucked there in the frame.
Shows Daddy a-horseback on Ruby
‘N he’s got him a handful of mane.
‘N she’s standin’ full up on her hind legs
Her fronts are pawin’ the air
You can see her joy, you can see his pride,
My God but they made-em a pair.
© 2005, Gary D. Robertson
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission
California ranch manager Gary Robertson includes “Ruby” in his recent book, A Treasure Trove of Memories. The book tells, “Gary Robertson is from a family that has been in Oklahoma since Indian Territory days, when his mother’s people were ‘removed’ there on the Trail of Tears and his family arrived from Texas…” He comments, “The need I have to share my thoughts and experiences through verse and a lyric probably comes from my gene pool. With Texans and Indians in my background, I come from a long line of storytellers.”
This photo is of Gary and his father on Ruby.
Gary is a popular performer at events across the West, and you’ll find him at California’s 25th annual Santa Clarita Cowboy Gathering April 19-22, 2018. Other performers include Waddie Mitchell, Dave Stamey, Kristyn Harris, Almeda Bradshaw, Wylie and the Wild West, New West, Jon Chandler and Ernie Martinez, Hot Club of Cowtown, Honey County, Solo Flight Swing, Detroit Sportsmen’s Congress, Lon Hannah & San Joaquin Junction, Mikki Daniel, R. W. Hampton, The Messick Family, Savannah Burrows, Dust in my Coffee, The Cowboy Way, Joey Dillon, Wild Horse Singers and Dancers, Sourdough Slim, Joe Herrington, Dave Thornbury, David Rainwater, Kristyn Harris, Jerry Hall and Trick Shot, Ron Christopher, Nancy Lee, John Bergstrom, and Saddle Arts. Find more at cowboyfestival.org.
Gary Robertson received the 2016 Buck Ramsey Award for top male poet from the Academy of Western Artists.