Clifton to Waco

Along the lines of colt breaking or “gentling” as my mentor, Buck, called it, are the stories he told me of his youth in the early twentieth century. He learned colt starting literally at his father’s knee. His dad would saddle an older horse to use as a “pony Horse,” then when a colt was saddled and adequately prepared with groundwork, the young horse’s lead rope was dallied around the saddle horn of the older horse and off they went. Buck was literally at his father’s knee as he sat on the colt. He recounted how often his own knee was banged against the side of the older horse.

In those days, the early 20th century, the way cattle were transported from Clifton to Waco to the rail yards, was by walking. Buck’s dad would make up a herd of steers, and a group of unstarted colts, and head down the road. On the way, they would pick up neighbors herds and add to theirs. It was an annual affair. Each day, Buck would be mounted on a different colt, ponied beside his father at the beginning, then riding along beside, guiding a tired cayuse by the hackamore. By the time they arrived at Waco, they had a group of “broke” colts (and bruised knees.) Returning to Clifton they stopped off at neighbors ranches to deliver the proceeds from the sales of steers. I don’t doubt that often a colt or two was sold as well.

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