“Light-hearted Way of Regarding ‘Broke Horses'” by Theodore Roosevelt

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“Light-hearted Way of Regarding ‘Broke Horses'”

from The Wilderness Hunter

Theodore Roosevelt

In the cow-country there is nothing more refreshing than the light-hearted belief entertained by the average man to the effect that any animal which by main force has been saddled and ridden, or harnessed and driven a couple of times, is a “broke horse.” My present foreman is firmly wedded to this idea, as well as to its complement, the belief that any animal with hoofs, before any vehicle with wheels, can be driven across any country. One summer on reaching the ranch I was entertained with the usual accounts of the adventures and misadventures which had befallen my own men and my neighbors since I had been out last. In the course of the conversation my foreman remarked: “We had a great time out here about six weeks ago. There was a professor from Ann Arbor come out with his wife to see the Bad Lands, and they asked if we could rig them up a team, and we said we guessed we could, and Foley’s boy and I did; but it ran away with him and broke his leg! He was here for a month. I guess he didn’t mind it though.” Of this I was less certain, forlorn little Medora being a “busted” cow-town, concerning which I once heard another of my men remark, in reply to an inquisitive commercial traveller: “How many people lives here? Eleven–counting the chickens–when they’re all in town!”

My foreman continued: “By George, there was something that professor said afterwards that made me feel hot. I sent word up to him by Foley’s boy that seein’ as how it had come out we wouldn’t charge him nothin’ for the rig; and that professor he answered that he was glad we were showing him some sign of consideration, for he’d begun to believe he’d fallen into a den of sharks, and that we gave him a runaway team a purpose. That made me hot, calling that a runaway team. Why, there was one of them horses never _could_ have run away before; it hadn’t never been druv but twice! And the other horse maybe had run away a few times, but there was lots of times he _hadn’t_ run away. I esteemed that team full as liable not to run away as it was to run away,” concluded my foreman, evidently deeming this as good a warranty of gentleness as the most exacting could require.