by Colt Blankman
An old timer walked thru a county museum
to reminisce of days gone by,
When a case of tarnished buckles,
sparked a memory, and caught his eye.
He stopped and paused and for a moment
he thought he remembered something right then,
Of a long ago 4H group who rode together,
growin’ and tryin’ to become men.
They were learnin’ about cattle, horses
and livin’ the cowboy ways,
His eyes seemed to cloud as his mind drifted back
to those forgotten days.
He was just a lad and his excitement was grand
as he thought about his good luck,
He climbed the fence, his heart ‘bout to burst,
as he got ready to mount Ole Buck.
That old buckskin was keen and ready to run,
his days were not up just yet,
He’d take care of the boy and teach him to ride,
he wasn’t just any backyard pet.
Oh, the things that they saw, the work that they did,
and the miles that they shared,
The boy and his pard, chasin’ cattle and dreams,
for they couldn’t have been better paired.
He thought of the pledge and the words that they’d say
together every week,
Head, heart, hands and health,
the 4H’s soon became something he’d seek.
He worked and practiced and he did his best
to learn all that he should,
‘Bout ranchin’ and ropin’ and doctorin’ too,
sometimes wonderin’ if he could.
Then one day the boss had some news,
at the end of the summer there’d be a big day,
A competition of sorts, to show off all their skills
and a shiny buckle would be the pay.
That night he couldn’t sleep, his yearnin’ was real
as the buckle was unlike any other kind,
He’d give it his all and lay it all on the line
to win the buckle that was on his mind.
His eyes brightened up, and a thought came to him
as he asked to open the case,
He picked up the buckle, turned it over in his hand,
as a smile crept over his face.
And there on the back of the first place award
was an inscription written just for him,
Congratulations from Ole Buck and Dad,
on your very first buckle win!
A weathered hand trembled as he held this memory
and thought, “It made me who I am!”
Learnin’ to cowboy with 4H’s, a loop and a hoss,
is how I became a man.
© Colt Blankman
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission
Thirteen-year-old Colt Blankman is a popular performer on the cowboy poetry circuit. See him perform this poem on Youtube.
His mother offered this comment about the inspiration for “The Buckle”:
Colt was in a ranch horse 4H group for years. For the finals one year the leader asked him to write a poem. The Buckle is the result. He has said many times that it would have been really hard to share that poem if he didn’t win. Luckily he did win the actual buckle that year. He has shared this poem all over the country and many people approach him after, teary eyed, telling him thank you as it brought back their 4H horse memories as leaders, participants or parents.
From his official bio:
Colt Blankman started performing cowboy poetry at the age of eight at the Cache Valley Cowboy Rendezvous kids’ Cowboy Poetry Contest. The next year he won that contest with an original poem and hasn’t looked back.
Coming full circle in 2019, he was a headliner at the Cache Valley Cowboy Rendezvous where it all started. He has performed at schools, community events, 4H, and Cowboy Poetry gatherings around the country. He has also been an invited performer at the Dakota Western Heritage Festival, The Durango Cowboy Gathering, The Arizona Cowboy Poetry Gathering and many others that have given him some amazing opportunities to help educate and inspire today’s youth about Cowboy Poetry. His CD, Pullin’ That Trigger, made it in the top 10 for most played poetry album on the western charts the winter of 2018.
Now 13, Colt comes from a long line of horsemen and ranchers. Along with sharing cowboy poetry Colt loves to ride, participate in wagon trains, shoot, hunt, and trap. He is a member of the Wasatch Jr. High School Rodeo Team as a shooter. He won the Silver State International Rodeo in the light rifle in 2019. He was honored to be the Rod McQueary and Sue Wallis Scholarship recipient at the 2019 National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada. He likes to write his own poetry as well as recite the classics and patriotic poems. Living all things western he tells folks he was born 150 years too late. A young “old soul,” Colt has been raised to appreciate the Cowboy Way of Life and loves to share his adventures through Cowboy Poetry.
Find more on his Facebook page.