Baxter Black

Ol’ Roanie

By Baxter Black

“How ya doin’ Skip?” I asked.
“Okay, I guess,” he said. “Remember my good rope horse?”
I remembered. Skip, like me is left-handed and therefore requires a left-handed heelin’ horse. Whenever I’m in southern New Mexico he lets me borrow ol’ Roanie.

Last time I had been to his place to rope I got there early so I saddled up and was warmin’ up the horse. I didn’t remember him bein’ quite so belligerent and feisty. He made a couple stops where I had to grab the horn!

When Skip arrived he explained why Roanie was actin’ up. It wasn’t Roanie. It was the other horse.

The other horse, which had a big scar on his shoulder, was also a roan. He was the flotsam of a relationship gone bad. Skip had wanted to sell him but the now departed love interest had insisted he keep him so they could go on romantic rides together. Skip roped on him now and then but it was always a risky venture. He kept thinkin’ if he roped on him enough, he might make a good horse.

“Yeah,” I said, “I remember ol’ Roanie.”
“Well, I just crippled him. And to top it off, the week before I’d gone down to Sullivan’s and ordered a brand new slant WW two-horse trailer with all the trimmings. It has the ladder, optional large hayrack on top, extra long tongue, red and white pin striping. Did I tell you it was a slant? Has walk-in tack storage in the front.

“I figgered it was a Christmas present for myself since I didn’t have to buy anyone a diamond this year. And then Roanie got crippled. Dang!”
“It looks to me,” I said, “that you might as well buy yourself two Christmas presents. Get a new horse. Sell the old one.”
“I’m…I’m not sure,” he stuttered.

I went into my lecture about how horses aren’t people and there is not much point hangin’ onto a horse you can’t use. I’ve seen too many people hang onto a horse that limps, jigs, bites or bucks or is just too much horse for them. I explain to these people they are not obligated to maintain a horse the rest of its life just because it cost $1500. It was a bill of sale, not adoption papers.

I warmed to the subject using my nursing home analogy, the price of killer horses and the plethora of good horseflesh available. “Life’s too short,” I concluded, “to spend good money on a horse out of a misguided sense of obligation.”
Skip said, “You know yer right. I am gonna sell him! He’s never gonna git much better. It’s not fair to them to keep ‘em around if yer never gonna ride’m. I’m really not sentimental about him anyway.”
He put his arm around my shoulder. “Thanks, my friend.”
“Yer welcome,” I said, happy that I was able to counsel my friend. “Then maybe you could do some serious horse trainin’ on the other horse.”
“Whatya talkin’ about?” he said. “He’ll still be crippled.”
“Oh, I thought we were talkin’ about ol’ Roanie.”
“Oh, no,” he said, “I could never sell ol’ Roanie.”

For more great stories, columns and books from Baxter Black, including his new book “A Commotion in Rhyme” please visit

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