THE BLACK BEAUTY
by Johnie Schneider (1904-1982)
I’ll tell you a story of a thing that makes me blue.
Please listen for a moment, for the words I speak are true.
For two years I’s been riding and scheming for to get—
My hands upon a beauty that no one will ever get.
I’d caught many a wild horse and never failed until,
I started on this youngster at the foot of Rocky Hill.
He was nothing but a baby, when first I saw him there—
Standing by his mother, a little old grey mare.
And when he’d grown from colthood to a big strong handsome black
There was always by his hoofprints, the little old grey mare’s track.
I lay awake many a night, trying to scheme a way
For to make a big black beauty, be my saddle horse some day.
But this beauty always dodged them ‘spite all that I could do.
Til one day I dug a pit—down by the waterside,
I covered it over with sticks and leaves and climbed a tree to hide.
I hadn’t been there very long; the sun was shining still,
When I saw the couple coming thru the rocks up on the hill.
And as they came down closer to the waterside,
The old mare done the leading and the black stayed close beside
Another step was all it took till she’d be in the pit.
She bowed her head and snorted and then stepped back a bit.
She turned her head as if to say—there is danger here my son.
And at the twinkle of an eye, my right hand grasped my gun.
I jerked it from its holster, for now I knew the truth;
I’d never catch the beauty with the old mare running loose.
I peeked out thru the branches—drew a fine sight on my gun,
My finger clutched the trigger, and the old mare’s days were done.
The great black reared straight in the air then sort of settled down
And stretched his long keen neck to smell the blood upon the ground.
He blew a loud shrill whistle, his nostrils flaming red,
And with his sleek foreleg he stroked—his mother lying dead
Then a sudden fear seemed to seize him and he whirled and with a bound—
Crashed into a pine tree than sank back to the ground.
I climbed down thru the branches and ran to where he struck,
And lifting up his small keen head I found he broke his neck.
I knew that I was beaten as they both laid cold and still—
I laid the beauty’s head back down and started up the hill.
My heart was sure heavy with the whole thing on my mind,
For now I knew the very truth—the black had been born blind.
© 1923, Johnie Schneider, used with permission
Johnie Schneider (1904-1982) was the first official World Champion Bull Rider. This memorable poem is included with more about his life in the “Rodeo Roots” collection of articles at CowboyPoetry.com by rodeo historian, poet, and National Cowgirl Hall of Fame honoree Rhonda Sedgwick Stearns.
An entry on the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame web site tells that Johnie Schneider “… had a soul of a poet and the heart of a cowboy. He began rodeoing in 1923 and quickly established a reputation as one of the most versatile performers around.” Johnie Schneider is quoted, “The best thing about rodeo was that it gave a lot of us a start in life. There weren’t many options back then for a fellow trying to make it.”
Find more about him at CowboyPoetry.com.
This 1931 photo of Johnie Schneider and the buckle image are courtesy of Rhonda Sedgwick Stearns and the Schneider family.
(Please respect copyright. You can share this poem and photo with this post, but please request permission for any other use.)