Cowboys battled the rough terrain of Texas

A good bit of Texas ranchland was rough, rocky, brushy, and steep. And many a good cowboy was developed as he learned these trails and these ways. 

According to one account, One cowboy was usually responsible for tending the cattle, fences, water tanks and pastures at each camp and when a new cowboy hired on, his first job is to become familiar with this range. And the best way for him to learn was to do the job of packing salt to the hard to get to areas where the cattle were. 

A new hand was given a couple of pack mules, and every day he would pack salt until he learned about this country and the trails. This is just part of the learning process using trial and error, When you mess up you know about it, and the next time you don’t do it. 

Here, in this rocky, vertical terrain, cattle were not used to humans and would hide in obscure draws and canyons  that were only accessible by tedious travel by horseback. Cowboys were usually given a remuda of about twelve horses that ranged from seasoned sure-footed horses to green broke broncs. 

Usually he would ride two per day depending on the terrain and the difficulty of the day’s work. It is all about learning the lay of the land, as well as the capabilities of your horses. My Ol’ Daddy would say, “a good hand knows the lay of the land and what his horse can do, and that is part of the beauty that is the creation of the Lord!” 


Old Hands

Now that ol’ canyon country is wild an’ untamed,

Ripe with wide open spaces. Filled with wrecks an’ chases,

An’ most of it, some cowboy has already named.


Yessir, it is the kinda country that cowboys love an’ hate,

Mighty rough on man an’ beast. Tho its beauty gives your eyes a feast,

With its draws an’ brush where you seldom find a gate.


An’ you’ll find the men that ride it ain’t like them ones in town.

With their spurs an’ hats an’ swagger. Tall boots an’ buckles on the bragger, 

I allow these fancy stories will twist real punchers faces in a frown,


No, these are men that ride the rugged canyon rim,

Along  the steep an’ rocky  trail. That punchers ride without fail,

Chances of an easy path are mighty slim,


‘Course, a good cowboy always wants a seasoned steed,

A little age is a good thing. “Cuz savvy is what they bring.

They are easy gaited an’ they will meet your ever need,


You know, a feller, that is a bit long in the tooth,

Has rode the rough ones in his day. Calm an’ steady in the fray. 

An’ he likes a knowin’ horse if you want to know the truth,


An’ they savvy which hoss is a surefooted cuss,

From past days ridin’ canyon range, you see they ain’t likely to change.

When they get in a storm, they don’t put up much a fuss,


But it still takes a feller with a level head,

An’ prob’ly help from the Good Lord. To keeps the trail from bein’ too hard.

An’ to help a feller stay focused, it is said.


Each cowboy has his string from green broke broncs to  steady as a rock,

When he was young an’ full of buck ‘n bawl. He’d brag ‘bout ridin’ them all,

But now he just listens to the young sprouts brag ‘bout the rough stock. 


He claims he trained these young fellers an’ the makin’ of their move,

From earin’ ‘em down an’ holdin.’ Even to the blindfoldin,’

All in all, makin’ this horse work look dang smooth.


See, they was trainin’ one another to determine what one might expect,

An’ so it goes with man an’ horse. They depend on each other of course,

Learnin’ to trust each other an’ doin’ the things that bring respect. 


They pay attention to their welfare an’ look out for one another,

So that no matter where they run. They work together just as one,

An’ it comes as no surprise at this kinship that they discover.


An’ the day comes when it’s for sure ‘bout the kinda team they be,

They neither one get in a stew. “Cuz their partnership is true,

They are kinda like old folks together I think you would agree.


So, days turn from fresh, warm an’ green to the aging starkness of gray, 

Fellers an’ horses grow young to old. An’ they write the story that will be told,

Bringin’ to life the unfoldin’  history from back in the day


So now, they ride the canyon rim, man an’ horse, acrost this sod,

Enjoyin’  a ride that makes their ol’ heart swell. Along that’ ol canyon trail,

This is when a man gives thanks an’ praise to God!

©  Ol’ Jim Cathey

Through the years, your abilities and your capabilities improve to make you proficient in your endeavors, just as a green broke colt becomes a seasoned steed that will do to ride the river with.

Come join us Sunday at First Baptist Church Marlin, it will help smooth your trails!

God Bless you and God Bless America!

The Marlin Democrat

251 Live Oak St
Marlin, TX 76661
Phone: (254) 883-2554
Fax:(254) 883-6553