Cornbread Thinks: John Carter & Paint

The NCHA Summer Spectacular is now in the books and was as good as any. The 10 days of rain and coolness was a real mood fixer. But there was also heartache. John Carter passed during the show and the services were in the coliseum one evening. It brought us all together with a reminder of what a family we really are, along with many memories of good times.

John had some rules he lived by. Here are a few: He was an Indian and you should do what he said; you were no man at all if you didn’t carry a razor-sharp switchblade bordering on the “sword” class; he was the best and handsomest man any woman had met or would ever meet; women should use him as their standard for other men forevermore; he only broke rules he needed to and whoever enforced the rule was the problem; anyone who beat him did so on purpose and would pay for it; and when your heart overflowed with joy or sadness, it was OK to cry.

Just know that every cutting you ever go to contains pieces of John Carter, along with dozens of other great men and women who make us and cutting what it is.

I heard, and then did some observing myself, about an “issue” going on at too many shows, especially with NCHA being on a rising tide. It was quite the coincidence, too. One of the many things John Carter was famous for was his Paint using horses. (All were named “Paint,” of course.) John spent as much time helping at shows as anybody – even that time he pulled a judge out of the box and whipped him ‘cause he needed whipping, and brought him the punishment of settling all the cattle for one NCHA Futurity. That, obviously, is like throwing Br’er Rabbit in the briar patch.

John believed every cutter should have a using horse – a good one. I sort of think it kept people from thinking about borrowing “Paint,” which you didn’t dare do anyway. One show, he told me, “Get on that Paint horse over there and come help in the Youth.” I did, and that Paint was a good one. I asked John whose he was and he said, “Yours. I bought him for you. Go find Sonny Adams and pay him.”

My “Paint” lived to be 30 and helped teach all my children to ride. I really don’t understand anyone that doesn’t have a personal using horse, period.

John got me another one that was special. Sorrel, strip and four stockings. King Podamus. He was also a barrel horse. He had been thoroughly trained in barrels. He never, ever forgot that the only proper way to exit anywhere was wide open. He had to be backed out of the working area. John loved loaning that horse to the unsuspecting. No one ever successfully stopped or slowed him before he cleared the back gate. Good times, y’all, good times.

Anyway, the “issue” I mentioned before is not enough people bringing using horses to cuttings, even major events. They figure that since they are just showing one, they can get by borrowing one. Late in the day, the number of go’s on a using horse add up. It can be a real problem when all the using horses are used up for the last two bunches. A real problem. And it’s unfair. We can’t have that.

This is poor etiquette. I think there is a whole chapter in Emily Post’s book about using horses. In case you don’t know, there were originally 11 Commandments, but the editors did away with one to have an even 10. “Thou Shall Bring A Good Using Horse” was cut.

Charlie Waters, a great Dallas Cowboys football player, learned me: “The shorter you wear your hair, the more you can get away with.” The better using horse you have, the more you can get away with. In truth, your using horse represents you. People will judge you as a cutter on what your using horse standards are. It’s part of giving back and not just taking. Yes, they cost money. Yes, they need, and most often get, the same care as show horses. Yes, they take up a hole in the trailer. Yes, they become like family and hurt your heart when they get hurt, sick or go. It’s the same with our dogs and even, sometimes, spouses. Cutting and life – one and the same, again.

Here’s a short list of using horse basics: Geldings. Short and quick for turning. Tall and quiet for holding. Goldilocks on how much cow – too much and they will “steal” the cow, not enough and it’s not enough. Plays well with others. Stands tied.

Cornbread Thinks: Do the proper thing. Get a good one and bring him.

You can reach Cornbread (Jimmy Bankston) at [email protected] or find him on Facebook.