A Veteran

Seems there’s a lot of mentioned these days about veterans. As I sat on my cow pony contemplating a set of calving heifers in the creek bottom pasture it suddenly hit me! Hell, I am a veteran! 

 “Well,” I says to myself, “what did you get out of being in the military? ” 

I guess the answer would be something about a way of dealing with authority, and the chain of command. However, my very next thought was of the older men, the World War II veterans. I was privileged to ride with some of them, cowboying in the nineteen sixties. They had been in the Army, the Hoss Cavalry, during the days before mechanization. They trained at Fort Riley and other illustrious army posts. Their independent seat in the saddle, their knowledge of horses, and their fine hands on the reins were an inspiration to this gunsel, dreaming of becoming a cowboy. It was a rare opportunity for those of us born during and after the second world war, to have a visual image of man who rode in what is now called the classical seat. When they rode a bucking fit, they were relaxed, and unshakable, usually laughing and cussing. When they rode a cutting horse, they danced with horse and cow, never grasping the saddlehorn. In fact, they often had a lit cigarette in their free hand! There was obvious pride and even a touch of arrogance in their posture as they rode tall in the saddle! Those of us called greenies, who rode with, or usually behind them, caught a glimpse of the great horsemen of the nineteenth century, the true vaqueros, and we yearn for that skill and balance, that feeling of being at home on their throne of leather. Sometimes, something good can come from the craft of war, I guess.

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