A Cowboy’s Faith: Quality important over quantity

buchmanhead“A cowboy just can’t have too many good horses.”

“But, what does he do with them all?” is the quickly responding query.

“Just feed ’em, clean up after ’em and always know there’s a good one in the pen upon need,” answer is.

All seems like an obvious equation, but anyone in the horse business knows it’s much more complicated.

Truth is we’ve always wanted horses and, according to most probably, had lots of them for five decades. More than we needed perhaps, but generally not feeling guilty, and caring for them.

Even as a teenager, our three years as 4-H county horse project champion, it was numbers that rated the title, rather than quality. Records show four horses in the project, but highest ribbon received was a red.

It’s not that difficult to have lots of horses, but hard to have those fitting the “good” qualification.

Of course, “good” varies with the one being talked to. A lazy old horse that walks down the trail for a 3-year-old or an 80-year-old is “perfect,” if that’s the need. Yet, such a mount would likely almost be considered worthless for a rancher wanting to gather a rank menagerie of bovine strays.

Still, a horse that is a cattleman’s delight has little appeal to a rider desiring to jump three-foot fences at the horse show. That was brought to brightest light when the boy was critiquing a new acquisition: “easy keeper, nice looking, gentle, fast, doesn’t get gassed up, goes all day,  handles the rope well, but he doesn’t have that much ‘cow’.”

There never was one that was completely perfect, certainly. “It’s all in the eyes (or expectations) of the beholder.”

A call informed: “We have that horse you need.” Instantly, we asked: “Is it any good?” Reply: “Of course.” Obviously: “We’ll take him.”

Because “a cowboy can’t have too many good horses.” With three dozen on the feed bill, maybe 10 percent are “good,” but we still don’t have “our horse.” Eternal optimism gives confidence with enough “good ones,” someday we will. In the meantime, we must reduce those not so good.

Reminds us of First Corinthians 8:3: “We never really know enough.” Yet, First Samuel 10:24: “Take a good look at what’s chosen the best.” Then, Leviticus 27:10: “We should substitute one animal for another.”


Frank_BuchmanFrank J. Buchman is a lifelong rancher from Alta Vista, a lifetime newspaper writer, syndicated national ag writer and a radio marketing consultant. He writes a weekly column to share A Cowboy’s Faith.


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