Baxter Black

The Gift

By Baxter Black, DVM

Seems like I ride a lot of borrowed horses. At folks’ ranches or trail rides, ropings or brandings they mount me ‘cause I’m usually a long way from home. I often bring my own saddle. They offer to lend me a saddle as well, but I decline for personal reasons. Sometimes it’s the only way I can find my own horse!

In the mornin’ when we saddle, I kinda hang back til the bunch is picked through and then see if I can spot anything familiar. After lunch I wander down the picket line lookin’ for my saddle.

My daughter and I would buy a few ol’ gummers every spring to calve out on our little patch of grass. She’d check ‘em every day a’horseback and we’d run ‘em all summer. I could ride out in the pasture in August, look ‘em over, come back in the house and not remember what they look like. She can describe cows from five years ago!

I figger it’s a gift

Like some people can draw, some can sing and some can fit a steer. There are some people who can look at a horse colt at two years of age and pick that sucker outta the string twelve years later. Or recognize a cow comin’ through the chute out of a herd of four hundred. Or a steer in the ropin’ box…“He drags a little.”

I used to think that they were puttin’ me on or show talkin’ to impress folks. But I’m convinced there are horsemen and cow people who dang sure really know that animal.

If I set my mind to it I can make a point of checkin’ the animal out. Does he have three white stockings, is his tail black, did his ears get froze off, does he have one eye? Then I might remember him for a day or two.

Maybe it’s just lack of attention on my part…not payin’ attention to details. But I’ve always been like this. I’ve never seen a memory course for cowboys with my problem. But I’m sure I’m not the only one. It could begin with a few basics, i.e. sex, number of legs, species, color, broken limbs, tuberculosis, blindness.

But I’m convinced a person with a gift sees more than just physical characteristics. They see personality, movement, ability, potential…they see the individual. I envy their gift. I wish I had part of it. But I guess I just have to be thankful that my dog remembers me and the family cat has three legs.

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

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