The 2013 National Reined Cow Horse Association (NRCHA) Snaffle Bit Futurity yielded a lot of great stories, like that of Open Champion Nick Dowers and Time For The Diamond, which starts on page 42.
One story that isn’t included in that coverage, however, involves an old man and a horse. He wasn’t a competitor, trainer, assistant or groom; he was just an old cowboy with a horse. He pulled into Reno in a homemade horse trailer that doubles as his living quarters for eight months out of the year, rode in the practice pens, watched cow horses compete and mingled amongst horsemen day after day.
Justin Lawrence, trainer and poet, crossed paths with the old man, whom Patty Ralls got to know as Don Frietas, in an arena early one morning.
“I got up about 3 o’clock or so and went and worked my horse in the arena. Boyd Rice, who is a good friend, he came in there too, and we worked our horses and visited,” Justin said. “Pretty soon, this old guy comes in with his horse. We got done and put our horses away, and everything just kind of started falling together. I sat up there and wrote that while that old guy was down there riding his horse.
“I just thought it was interesting that he wasn’t in the show. He was just there enjoying it. He got up early and had his horse in the arena, not doing anything fancy, but sure enough in there riding with everybody. It just intrigued me a little.”
Justin never did meet the old man, but he read his poem, titled, “Man And His Horse,” at the NRCHA banquet. The response was tremendous.
“I didn’t realize it was going to affect people the way it did,” Lawrence said. “It’s kind of overwhelming to write something that hits people that way.”
With Justin’s permission, I give you “Man And His Horse.” I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Man & His Horse
By Justin Lawrence
He’s just a man and his horse, I’m not sure from where he came.
I know none of his history, not even his name.
Like a scene from the past, so quietly he goes.
His wrinkles a history book, with pages he only knows.
This old worn cowboy, he’s worn and bent,
From the miles he’s traveled and the places he’s went.
I see the pride he has in the bay horse he straddles –
The care given to his bridle and old worn saddle.
Lessons can be learned from a man of this make.
There’s no put on airs. No, nothing is fake.
He came from a generation where they did what they could,
To eke out a living from the bad and the good.
Now he’s here to enjoy our sport and celebrate its past,
Adding new memories to old, forever will they last.
I think to myself about how life would be,
If we all trained horses so careless, so free.
When it comes down to it, do we act like this man?
To forget what others think and be proud where we stand.
I challenge you all to create your own little story,
Of how we judged no man and we humbled with glory.
So I wish you the best as you travel life’s course,
And maybe someday, you will be like the man and his horse.