A Cowboy’s Faith: Physical height really unimportant

buchmanhead“Tall in the saddle.”

An accurate family description came to mind during an athletic competition where our 6-foot-4, eighth-grade grandson was one of the tallest there.

It comes naturally as his dad’s taller, and his mom, grandparents and other relatives are all above average height. The teenage cowboy will likely extend considerably more, too, based on statistical growth curves.

Likewise, reflections came of his aunt being identified “Short in the saddle,” in a newspaper photo caption when she rode her Shetland Trigger in the lead pony class before being a year old. She’s grown lots since then as well.

Not affecting height of hat above saddle seat, tall cowboys generally like to ride tall horses so they don’t appear too big for their mounts. However, it doesn’t take a tall horse to work well for a cowboy tall in the saddle.

Those 16-hand horses might look better to others, but 6-foot-plus cowboys on 14-hand, or smaller, horses are sometimes the ones who get more done, whether with a rope, on the speedway, and especially dodging a renegade cow.

While we’ve never been nearly as tall as others, and likely shorter now than at some point, due to humpback, “excuse” given for our poor arena abilities in younger days was “the winners aren’t as long legged.”

Well, certainly, that wasn’t legitimate, as most of today’s best professional cowboys are as tall as, and taller than, we ever were, whether winning in rough stock or timed events. Truthful fact admitted now, we just never were cowboy enough.

While shortness is obviously advantageous to gymnasts, tumblers, racehorse jockeys, and those cowgirls who make our barrel racing times look embarrassing, there are advantages to being tall.

One can reach the chocolates hidden in the top cupboard; no ladder needed to change the light bulb; and it sometimes even gets the grandson more ballgame play time.

With height often comes strength, although we’ve always been shy there, too. Taller ones lift hay higher, pick up newborn calves to clear their lungs easier, and Rodeo Hall of Famer Dean Oliver sure could throw calves faster.

Reminds us of Exodus 16:18: “When they measured, those who gathered less weren’t short, each person had gathered as much as needed.” So, Luke 21:28: “Now stand tall and lift up your heads, because redemption is near.”


030615-franksmug2Frank 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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