OF HORSES AND MEN, by Jay Snider

sniders3photo courtesy of Buckles & Bling Photography

OF HORSES AND MEN
by Jay Snider

It’s been told of good horses lost
In simple words that cowboys use
He dern sure was a good one
He’s the kind you hate to lose

He’s the kind you could depend on
In the river and the breaks
In rough country and wild cattle
He’d be the one you’d take

His efforts weren’t ruled by stature
With him you’d finish what you’d start
His limits were governed only
By the dimension of his heart

His expectations were simple
Merely fairness from a friend
But when he’d feel the need to run
It’s best not to fence him in

Pure poetry in motion
As across the plains he’d fly
A tried and true compadre
In a seasoned cowboy’s eye

His courage was unmatched by mortal men
From conquistadors to kings
Cowboys sing his praises
At roundups in the spring

Ain’t it strange how thoughts of horses lost
Mirror those of men passed on
And though they’ve gone to glory
Their spirit’s never gone

Sometimes simple words seem best
When final words we choose
He dern sure was a good one
He’s the kind you hate to lose

© 2003, Jay Snider
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

Third-generation Oklahoma cowboy and rancher Jay Snider told us:

The inspiration for this poem came to me on December 7, 2002. I had to put down a little bay stud that we owned for near a dozen years. Cancer had invaded one of his kidneys and the vet gave him little hope. It truly was a sad day for us. I remember telling my wife and sons, “Doc sure was a good one. He’s the kind you hate to lose.”

That same day, I had been asked to do a poem at an old man’s funeral who lived north of where we live. He was as good a cowman as ever came out of our country. After the service, his eldest son said to me, “Dad sure was a good one. He’s the kind you hate to lose.”

I could not get those words out of my mind. I started this poem that night; however, I could not finish it until March 19, 2003 when we received word that Larry McWhorter had passed away. Then it came to me what I had been trying to say all along.

Jay is appreciated as well for his fine reciting. Enjoy his rendition of Sunny Hancock’s (1931-2003) “The Bear Tale” in a video from the Western Folklife Center’s 2011 National Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

Find more about Jay Snider at CowboyPoetry.com and and at his site, jaysnider.net.

Jay Snider and Ernie Sites are the featured performers for the forthcoming Sunny Hancock/Leon Flick Memorial Cowboy Poetry Show, in Paisley, Oregon on July 26, 2019. Kathy Moss will emcee and The Jody Cooper Band will also perform. The popular event raises funds for a local cowboy crisis fund and scholarship and honors the memories of Leon Flick and Sunny Hancock, two late, beloved Lake County cowboys and poets.

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This photo at the top of this page of Jay Snider with his son and grandson is courtesy of Buckles & Bling Photography, specialists in rodeo and family photography.

(Please respect copyright. You can share this poem and photo with this post, but for other uses, please request permission.)

FOUR LITTLE WORDS, by Jay Snider

alpbrjoelmemphoto by Barbara Richerson

FOUR LITTLE WORDS
by Jay Snider

Four little words have stuck in my mind
From the time I was just a small child
“There’s a good feller” is what he would say
When he talked of the men he admired

I remember those men he talked about
Sure ‘nuff cowboys, tough, but kind
They said what they meant and meant what they said
These men are gettin’ harder to find

“There’s a good feller,” meant he was true to his word
That’s all you expect of a man
You knew for sure he was proud to meet you
By the genuine shake of his hand

“There’s a good feller,” meant you could depend
On this man no matter the task
Never got too tough, too cold, or too late
For his help, all you need do is ask

“There’s a good feller,” meant he had a light hand
Be it with horses or cattle or crew
He spent most of his life learning this cowboy trade
And he’d be honored to teach it to you

“There’ a good feller” meant don’t ask him to do
What ain’t on a true and honest track
He knows it’s easier to keep a good reputation
Than it is to try to build one back

“There’s a good feller,” meant he’s a fair-minded man
He helped write cowboyin’s unwritten laws
He won’t ask you to do what he wouldn’t do
Yet knows, at times, the short end you’ll draw

“There’s a good feller,” meant, when he’s down on his luck
He can still hold his head way up high
‘Cause he did his best and gave it his all
He knows with faith and God’s help he’ll get by

“There’s a good feller,” just four little words
And their meaning won’t run all that deep
But when Dad would use ‘em to describe certain men
You knew they were at the top of the heap

“There’s a good feller,” just four little words
But they’ve always been favorites of mine
If after my trails end, my name’s brought up
“There’s a good feller” would suit me just fine

© Jay Snider, used with permission.

Third-generation Oklahoma cowboy and rancher, poet, and songwriter Jay Snider’s poem has long been a part of “Poems for Solemn Occasions” at CowboyPoetry.com.

It seems a fitting poem now as the Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering has announced that this year’s event, the 33rd, held last weekend, is its last. Few gatherings earned such great respect of participants and audiences. Deep and lasting friendships were made there and so many poets and musicians have written eloquently about their experiences and the bittersweet end of an outstanding event.

The gathering loved the poets and musicians back, as these two photos by Barbara Richerson attest. A memorial to poets was created in Railroad Park and dedicated in 2014. Designed by Gathering President Don Cadden, it is dedicated to the men and women who have participated in the and have passed on. Their names are inscribed on brass plates that are mounted on a “steel book” of remembrance on the site (pictured with Joel Nelson). The 2016 30th annual event honored poets and musicians no longer with us. Find reports on these events with more photos at cowboypoetry.com: 2014 and 2016.

txcpg1photo by Barbara Richerson

An unwavering mission drove the event; Don Cadden commented, “… we have worked diligently to keep it truly cowboy and respectful of the values and traditions of the ranching way of life.” Read the gathering’s announcement on their Facebook page.

Jay Snider, a long-time participant at the Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering, comments, “The Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering has touched countless lives in the past 33 years. I think Joel Nelson said it best in a conversation that fateful Thursday night, when he said the gathering has changed many, many lives. I know it has changed mine.

“The monument that was erected to memorialize the many great poets of the past who attended the gathering and have since passed on is a testament to the kind of gathering the Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering has been.”

Hats off to the people who worked so hard and did such an outstanding job.

Jay Snider is appreciated for his poetry as well for his impressive reciting. Find more about him at jaysnider.net and at cowboypoetry.com.

(Please respect copyright. You can share this poem and these photos with this post, but please request permission for any other uses.)

TYRONE AND TYREE, by Jay Snider

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TYRONE AND TYREE
by Jay Snider

I’ve learned lots of lessons
’bout cowboyin’ up
’cause I’ve been a cowboy
since I was a pup

And my dad taught me
just like his dad taught him
rewards without effort
come seldom and slim

And if workin’ for wages
or bossin’ a crew
a job left half finished
reflects upon you

And good leaders of men
who while bossin’ the crew
won’t ask of their men
what they wouldn’t do

‘Cause men are just men
and it’s by God’s design
we all pull on our britches
one leg at a time

But some men are leaders
while others hold back
they stray off the trail
and are hard to untrack

But with proper persuasion
will likely fall in
’cause that’s just the nature
Of hosses and men

Which put me to thinkin’
’bout Tyrone and Tyree
the best team of Belgians
you ever did see

Why they’d lay in those collars
and pull stride for stride
work sunup to sundown
till the day that they died

But Tyree would get balky
not pull like he should
so Tyrone would reach over
and scold him right good

Then the load they were pullin’
would even right out
that’s the lesson in life
that I’m talkin’ about

‘Cause some hosses are leaders
while some will pull back
they’ll stray off the trail
and are hard to untrack

But with proper persuasion
will likely fall in
see, that’s just the nature
of hosses and men

Which put me to thinkin’
’bout what Dad had said
and a couple of visions
then danced in my head

In my mirror, while shavin’
which one will I see
could I be Tyrone
or would I be Tyree

And to leaders of men
let’s all raise a cup
here’s to pullin’ your weight
and to cowboyin’ up

© 2005, Jay Snider, used with permission
This poem should not be reprinted or reposted without permission

Here’s another poem to suggest new year’s resolutions.

Popular Oklahoma rancher, poet, and songwriter Jay Snider is known for his own writing and as well for his fine reciting.

He has a recent CD, Classic Cowboy Poetry: The Old Tried and True, which showcases his fine reciting. He delivers poems by Bruce Kiskaddon, Henry Herbert Knibbs, Will Ogilvie, Sunny Hancock, and others, to carry listeners back to time when, to quote Kiskaddon, “cattle were plenty and people were few.”

Enjoy his rendition of Sunny Hancock’s (1931-2003) “The Bear Tale” in a video from the Western Folklife Center’s 2011 National Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

Find Jay at the 33rd annual Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering, February 22-23, 2019 in Alpine, Texas among this year’s outstanding lineup.

Performers include Apache Adams, Gary Allegretto, Amy Hale Auker, Eli Barsi, Floyd Beard, “Straw” Berry, Mike Blakely, Dale Burson, Don Cadden, Bob Campbell, Craig Carter, Zack Casey, Allan Chapman & Rodeo Kate, Justin Cole, High Country Cowboys, Doris Daley, Mikki Daniel, John Davis, Kevin Davis, Doug Figgs, Ray Fitzgerald, Rolf Flake, Ryan & Hoss Fritz, Belinda Gail, Pipp Gillette, Jeff Gore, Kristyn Harris, Andy Hedges, High Country Cowboys, Yvonne Hollenbeck, Randy & Hanna Huston, Chris Isaacs, Jill Jones & Three Hands High, Jim Jones, Linda Kirkpatrick, Ross Knox, Daron Little, Deanna Dickinson McCall, Pat Meade, Glenn Moreland, Terry Nash, Joel Nelson, Sam Noble, Kay Nowell, Jean Prescott, Gary Prescott, Mike Querner, Luke Reed, Randy Rieman, Gary Robertson, Trinity Seely, R.P. Smith, Jay Snider, Gail Steiger, Michael Stevens, Caitlyn Taussig, Rod Taylor, Doug Tolleson, Keith Ward, and Jim Wilson.

Find more about Jay Snider at CowboyPoetry.com and visit JaySnider.net.

This photo is by popular poet and wilderness guide Sandy Seaton Sallee, from December, 2015. She describes it, “Fred and Frank, our big blue Brabant/Percheron team, near our home above the Yellowstone River. Airedale pup Kate enjoyed the ride!” Sandy and her husband Scott run Black Mountain Outfitters, Inc., 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 CowboyPoetry.com.

Don’t miss the video of another team at Black Mountain Outfitters of “The Tail End of Christmas 2018.”

(Please respect copyright. You can share this poem and this photograph with this post, but for any other uses, request permission from the poet and the photographer.)

TO THE OLD TIMES, by Chris Isaacs

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TO THE OLD TIMES
by Chris Isaacs

Me and my pards, Bud and Beaver
Were havin’ a cold one down at the Pines.
We’d been to the show and watched the short go
We were just catchin’ up on old times

When this kid walked in with a swagger
That told the whole bar he was there.
Hat cocked to one side, he was plum full of pride;
Just let all of the gunsels beware.

His thumbs slid back behind his new buckle
As he hollered, “The drinks are on me.
I rode a bad one tonight, removed all of his fight
And I’m startin’ right now on a spree.”

We just looked at each other and grinned
As we remembered those days gone by
When we were the ones who were having the fun;
“Let er’ buck” was our standard war cry.

But I think that the grins were a cover.
A mask that could hide something more;
So no one could see that these old devotees
Were wishin’ time hadn’t shuttered the door.

‘Cuz it’s a door that cannot be left gaping.
Once it’s closed it won’t open again.
It’s forever shut tight tho’ you try with your might
The trying could just drive you insane.

But there’s one saving grace; a solution!
It’s a way to help ease the despair.
It’s those old “memories” that help us to see
The good times that are no longer there.

And I looked at Bud and ol’ Beaver
And they were both smiling thru tears
Thinkin’ back when we did the same as that kid,
As we remembered back thru the years.

So pards, let’s raise a glass to old memories,
To the good times and all the old friends.
And though those days are gone, the memories live on;
In our dreams those days never end.

© 2016, Chris Isaacs
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

As we approach the new year thoughts often go to “auld lang syne” (times gone by), cowboy, packer, and popular poet and humorist Chris Isaacs has a fitting poem. He also shares this photo of himself with “Ol’ Cowboy,” which he says was “taken somewhere between Yarnell and Skull Valley, Arizona in March 1977.”

Chris returns as a headliner to the 33rd annual Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Alpine, February 22-23, 2019.

The Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering lineup includes Apache Adams, Gary Allegretto, Amy Hale Auker, Eli Barsi, Floyd Beard, “Straw” Berry, Mike Blakely, Dale Burson, Don Cadden, Bob Campbell, Craig Carter, Zack Casey, Allan Chapman & Rodeo Kate, Justin Cole, High Country Cowboys, Doris Daley, Mikki Daniel, John Davis, Kevin Davis, Doug Figgs, Ray Fitzgerald, Rolf Flake, Ryan & Hoss Fritz, Belinda Gail, Pipp Gillette, Jeff Gore, Kristyn Harris, Andy Hedges, High Country Cowboys, Yvonne Hollenbeck, Randy & Hanna Huston, Chris Isaacs, Jill Jones & Three Hands High, Jim Jones, Linda Kirkpatrick, Ross Knox, Daron Little, Deanna Dickinson McCall, Pat Meade, Glenn Moreland, Terry Nash, Joel Nelson, Sam Noble, Kay Nowell, Jean Prescott, Gary Prescott, Mike Querner, Luke Reed, Randy Rieman, Gary Robertson, Trinity Seely, R.P. Smith, Jay Snider, Gail Steiger, Michael Stevens, Caitlyn Taussig, Rod Taylor, Doug Tolleson, Keith Ward, and Jim Wilson.

Chris Isaacs has a recent book, Scattered Memories: Cowboy Wit and Wisdom. In her foreword to the book, Shannon Keller Rollins (of the Red River Ranch Chuck Wagon along with Kent Rollins) calls it, “your feel-good pocket guide to life.” Find more about Chris Isaacs in a feature at cowboypoetry.com, and find all of his books and recordings at his site, chrisisaacs.com.

(Please respect copyright. You can share this poem and photo with this post, but for any other use, please request permission.)

THE HELPMATE, by Yvonne Hollenbeck

glen2
THE HELPMATE
by Yvonne Hollenbeck

You say I look disgusted
but you took me by surprise,
and I suppose there was resentment
coming from my eyes.

Since that hired man left us
I’ve been more than just his wife;
I’m the helper by his side
as he continues ranching life.

I get the gates and scoop the bunks
and help with feeding hay,
and that is just the start
of all the jobs I do each day.

I’m right there for the calving
and I help with all the chores,
then try to catch my work up
when I get some time indoors.

You see, I run and jump
each time he gives a little yelp,
and it galls me that you ask
how he is doing “with no help.”

© 2014, Yvonne Hollenbeck, used with permission.
Yvonne Hollenbeck is cowboy poetry’s most visible ranch wife, and her life gives her endless material. She is a sought-after performer at Western events, for her poetry and for her traveling program that includes the works of the five generations of quilt makers in her family. She is a champion quilter.

Yvonne and and her husband Glen, a champion calf-roper, raise cattle and quarter horses on their ranch in Clearfield, South Dakota.

In fairness to Glen, the poem came about after he was the one who told Yvonne about someone who, even after Glen had said Yvonne was helping out, went on to ask how he did everything “with no help.”

This photo of Glen Hollenbeck is from 2017. Yvonne wrote, “Here’s a picture of a couple good ol’ boys. Glen stopped to visit Paddy’s Irish Whiskey at the 6666 Ranch at Guthrie, Texas, and thank him for the great addition to Glen’s G2 horse collection…I mean “horse program.”

This poem is in Yvonne Hollenbeck’s recent book, Rhyming the Range, which collects her original poems about her life on the ranch. The book includes the most requested poems from her two out-of-print books and all of her newest poetry. She also has a CD by the same name that includes many of those poems.

She has a busy cowboy poetry event schedule in the next few months:

Catch Yvonne this weekend at the 9th annual Black Hills Cowboy Christmas at the Historic Homestake Opera House in Lead, South Dakota, adjacent to Deadwood. She’ll be joined by Chuck Larsen, Trinity Seely, and others. Find more at .

Find Yvonne at the Colorado Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Golden, January 17-20, 2019. The lineup includes Jerry Brooks, Jon Chandler, Connie Dover, Mark Gardner & Rex Rideout, Kristyn Harris, Carol Huechan, Yvonne Hollenbeck, Chuck Larsen, Gary McMahan, John Nelson, New West, Jean Prescott, Dave Stamey, Pop Wagner, Barry Ward, and Dick Warwick.

She’ll be at the Western Folklife Center’s 35th annual National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada, January 28-February 2, 2019. See the roster of performers in our Monday post and find information at nationalcowboypoetrygathering.com.

Yvonne returns as a headliner to the 33rd annual Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Alpine, February 22-23, 2019. The Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering lineup includes Apache Adams, Gary Allegretto, Amy Hale Auker, Eli Barsi, Floyd Beard, “Straw” Berry, Mike Blakely, Dale Burson, Don Cadden, Bob Campbell, Craig Carter, Zack Casey, Allan Chapman & Rodeo Kate, Justin Cole, High Country Cowboys, Doris Daley, Mikki Daniel, John Davis, Kevin Davis, Doug Figgs, Ray Fitzgerald, Rolf Flake, Ryan & Hoss Fritz, Belinda Gail, Pipp Gillette, Jeff Gore, Kristyn Harris, Andy Hedges, High Country Cowboys, Yvonne Hollenbeck, Randy & Hanna Huston, Chris Isaacs, Jill Jones & Three Hands High, Jim Jones, Linda Kirkpatrick, Ross Knox, Daron Little, Deanna Dickinson McCall, Pat Meade, Glenn Moreland, Terry Nash, Joel Nelson, Sam Noble, Kay Nowell, Jean Prescott, Gary Prescott, Mike Querner, Luke Reed, Randy Rieman, Gary Robertson, Trinity Seely, R.P. Smith, Jay Snider, Gail Steiger, Michael Stevens, Caitlyn Taussig, Rod Taylor, Doug Tolleson, Keith Ward, and Jim Wilson.

Find more of Yvonne Hollenbeck’s poetry at CowboyPoetry.com, and visit yvonnehollenbeck.com, which has her appearance dates, including quilt programs.

(Please respect copyright. You can share this poem and photo with this post, but please request permission for any other use.)

ADVICE, by Deanna Dickinson McCall

dea2017

ADVICE
by Deanna Dickinson McCall

The corrals were full enough to bust,
And we’d all had our share of dust.
But, we’d got all the pairs in
And the separating was about to begin.

Our new son-in-law was working the gate
Trying hard to discriminate
When an angry mama came charging up
Mad over the hold up.

Hearing the commotion I rode through the dust
And shared some advice he could trust,
“Son, don’t crowd her, whatever you do,
When her head is held high she’ll take the fence or you.”

Better off to just let stand, cool down a bit
She’s not afraid of horse or man, let her have her fit.
It’s Nature’s way to attack or run, fear and anger is part of life.
I know it’s not exactly fun, but, remember she is your wife.”

© Deanna Dickinson McCall, used with permission.
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

Fifth-generation rancher and writer Deanna Dickinson McCall never lacks for inspiration for her poetry and writing; her family is a great source. She and husband Dave, who just celebrated 43 years of marriage, have given the West new generations of ranchers and of cowboy poets and reciters, as well.

See Deanna Dickinson McCall at the 30th annual National Cowboy Symposium & Celebration, September 7-9, 2018, in Lubbock, Texas.

The full list of entertainment includes Gerry Allen, Rusty Battenfield, Robert Beene, Jack Blease, Dr. Heidi Brady, Broken Chair Band, Norman Brown, Jimmy Burson, Bob Campbell, Michael Carlton, Craig Carter & Zack Casey, Billy Cate, Jim Cathey, Allan Chapman & Rodeo Kate, Fort Concho, Henry Crawford, Nathan Dahlstrom, Janice Deardorff, Mike Dunn, John Erickson, Doug Figgs, Karen Casey Fitzjerrell, Pip Gillette, Carol Glover, David Hansford, Sid Hausman, Prairie Heirs, Chris Isaacs, Washtub Jerry, Jim Jones, Leroy Jones, Legends of Texas, Stan Mahler, Kenny Maines, Deanna Dickinson McCall, “Straw” Berry, Pat Meade, Bob Miller, Mike Moutoux, Glenn Moreland, Joel Nelson, Ballet Folklorico Nuestra Henricia, Bill O’Neal (Texas State Historian), Quanah Parker Society, Mike Querner, Stan Paregien, Jane Pattie, Gary “JC” Penney, Donnie Poindexter, Jeff Posey, Prairie Moon, Wayne Thompson, David Waddle, Dr. Scott White, Jim Wilson, Bob Wyre and The Fence Post.

Her recent CD release is I’ll Ride Thru It.” See a track list and review here at CowboyPoetry.com. She has two recent collections of stories, Rough Patches and Rough Patches II, and a book of poems accompanied by JaNeil Anderson’s paintings, Split Range.

Deanna also has a highly praised book of stories and poems, Mustang Spring, and an another award-winning CD of her poetry, Riding. Her work appears in many anthologies and magazines and she’s a popular performer at gatherings, often appearing at the Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering, where she appeared earlier this month; and the Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering and the Western Folklife Center’s National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, where she is featured at both in 2019; and other events.

Find more about Deanna Dickinson McCall at CowboyPoetry.com and at her web site, deannadickinsonmccall.com.

This 2017 photo of the McCalls branding in a trap is courtesy of Deanna Dickinson McCall.

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Campfires, Cattle & Cowboys Gathering, November 17, 2017, Duncan, Oklahoma

Campfires, Cattle & Cowboys Gathering

LIVE! UNDER THE STARS! Campfires, Cattle, and Cowboys Gathering, a cowboy poetry evening, returns for its third year, Friday, Nov. 17, at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan.

Featured artists include nationally-recognized cowboy poet Jay Snider, cowboy poet laureate Francine Roark Robison, Danny Carl Williams, Donnie Poindexter, and the duo of Jim Garling on the guitar and Susanne Woolley on the fiddle.

Novice performers get a chance to break in their boots on the stage during open mic session interspersed through the featured performers from 6:00 – 9:00pm. Register that night or call for details.  All family friendly spoken or musical poetry welcome.

Meet, mingle and pick up your favorite artists’ books and CDs from 5:00-6:00pm or at their artist table throughout the night.

To warm your innards, there will be campfires, hot coffee and plenty of hot chocolate.  Bring your blankets and lawn chairs for this outdoor gathering. No charge to attend with a recommended donation of $20 to help the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center fulfill its mission and continue these types of programs.

For information, visit onthechisholmtrail.com; facebook.com/onthechisholmtrail/events; or call 580-252-6692.