THE GENTLE HOSS by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)


by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

Of all the things you come across, the best one is a gentle hoss.
A man don’t have to git a rope and ketch him on the flyin’ lope,
And mebby have to ear him down, and git all shook and jerked around.
And mebbyso git kicked or throwed before he gits the critter rode.

A gentle hoss is shore a pal. You walk into the hoss corral,
You take yore bridle in your hand and he’s so gentle that he’ll stand.
He doesn’t fight the bit aytall, and when you put on the head stall,
He doesn’t seem to have no fears. He knows you won’t rough up his ears.

He doesn’t fret and fight and fuss, like some ill tempered onery cuss.
He’s with you all the long day through to help with what you have to do.
And any time you rope and tie, he’ll hold the slack and shore stand by.
In case you’re workin’ on the ground, jest drop the reins, he’ll stick around.

Jest think the time and work he saves; this gentle pony that behaves.
A cow boy mighty soon will find he’s worth three of the other kind.
He wants to work and do his share and never quits you any where.
Of all the things you come across, the best one is a gentle hoss.

…Bruce Kiskaddon, 1936

Thanks to Oregon poet Tom Swearingen for recently mentioning this poem. As posted last week, the next MASTERS CD from will feature the works of Kiskaddon. If you recite (or know of a recitation) of one of the lesser known Kiskaddon poems, email with suggestions for consideration.

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 1936.

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-months’ 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.

(This poem is in the public domain. The calendar page is from the collection.)