When I started writing this column, I was also going to write some stories about my Dad, his family and my Grandpa. There are some wild, sometimes unbelievable, tales that come out when my family gets together. So in the interest of family history, I have decided to write some of them down.
My Dad made the statement to me one time that “I offered something better for the horse than he did and he offered something better than my Grandpa did”. It was a different generation and a whole different way of handling a horse for most of the public back then. There were a few, the really good ones that were natural horsemen. But, in general horses were treated as tools to get a job done. Grandpa Johnson was a horse trader and for him, and other working cowboys…the horse was a tool, and that’s all they were.
When my Dad was probably between 9 and 12, my Grandpa was trying to catch a horse in a pen that did not have a gate. So he had my Dad stand in the gate. Of course the horse ran at Dad and Dad moved out of the way! I think this went on a couple of times with my Dad moving and my Grandpa hollering at him for “heading for the hills” every time that horse headed out through the gate hole! Finally my Dad told him, “you stand here and I’ll try to catch him”. (This surprises me because it was bordering on back talk! I guess he got tired enough of being run over that he did back talk!!) So Grandpa stood in the gate and Dad went in the pen. Dad said as the horse headed out the gate hole, Grandpa stood his ground and that horse ran the length of him. It knocked him to the ground and headed out into the big pasture!
Grandpa didn’t say a word, got up, dusted himself off and headed over to a pile of posts. He picked one out and stood behind one of the gate posts and said, “Run him by again”. As soon as Dad was able to run the horse back into the corral, the horse saw the open hole and headed for the gate at a run. Grandpa stepped out and hit him between the eyes as hard as he could as he yelled, “whoa!” Dad said the horse went to his knees and fell over. He thought Grandpa had killed the horse! Grandpa calmly walked over, reached down and put a halter on the horse. Once the horse came to, he staggered up and Grandpa had him caught! Dad said every time that horse went through a gate after that, he would stop before he got there and peek around at the posts to be sure no one was standing there!
As I said it was a different generation, and it didn’t make us any better than them, just different. They were offering the horse what they knew. I’m sure if Grandpa Johnson had known a different way, he would have done it differently.