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Cowboy Up by Patti H.

#1 of the Cowboy Appreciation series : Scott


In Honor of July 25th – National Day of the Cowboy
Usual Disclaimers Apply

Author’s Notes:
Hi all, in light of the fact that on Saturday, July 25th it’s the 5th celebration of “National Day of the Cowboy” I came up with short stories for each of the Lancer cowboys.  I’m posting one per day in honor of our favorite cowboys – today is Scott’s turn – tomorrow will be Murdoch’s and then Johnny’s on Saturday.  Each will feature a special cowboy song, reference to a cowboy song or a piece of cowboy poetry that fits into my story and keeps with the National Day of the Cowboy Resolution 2009, listed at the bottom of each story.  No beta, flying on my own…I’m such a maverick <VBG!>.  Hope y’all enjoy them.  

If you want to hear the actual song here’s the “YouTube” link attached to clipping of “Rawhide” where you’ll see Paul Brinegar in his role as “Wishbone” (wonder if he had any roles without references to food??)  And for those of you not familiar with Chris Ledoux’s music…he’s no longer with us…but he was a rodeo rider who became a singing star in his own right.

You gotta cowboy up
When you get throwed down
You get right back in the saddle
As soon as you hit the ground
You heard that the tough get goin’
When the goin’ gets tough
Around here what we say is
Boy you better cowboy up
Well its not an easy lesson
To learn in life and love
But its the only way to go
Whenever you bite the dust
                        Nod to Chris Ledoux’s “Cowboy Up” Lyrics

Word Count 3,606

Johnny bounced hard, up, down, right, left on the back of the bucking wild mustang intent on getting the unaccustomed, unwanted and unnecessary load off of him.  His nostrils flared back, snorting, breathing fire if he could; frustration filled his eyes as they rolled back in their sockets.  All the while the coal black stallion nickered his protests with strident peals of neighs at the unwavering and so far unshakeable man clinging to his back.  He continued rearing and running around the enclosure in frantic abandon, seeking escape, finding none and getting madder by the second.

From around the Lancer corral, admiring ranch hands stood cheering, whistling, waving their hats  and clapping their appreciation for the young Lancer as he stayed on top the wild flaying beast.  Murdoch Lancer stood off to one side, with one leg hitched up on the lowest railing of the sturdy corral fencing, his arm draped around Scott’s shoulders.  His face told the story of fatherly pride in his son’s accomplishments.

“You’re brother seems to have a knack for breaking those wild horses he keeps dragging back here.”

“Yes Sir, he does seem to have the right touch,” agreed the tall, blonde man who watched his brother take yet another wild frenzy circle around the corral.  “You do realize that I was in the Calvary during the War?”

Murdoch looked at his eldest son, “Seems to me I’ve heard you mention it before, Scott.  Your point?”

“Well, Murdoch, I do believe I would like to give that a go myself.”

“Scott, while in the Calvary did you ever have the opportunity to break any of the horses?”

Scott shook his head no, “But Sir, how difficult can it be?  I’ve watched Johnny break horse after horse and well, it’s just looks to be a matter on holding on until the animal wears down.”

Murdoch smiled with the air of benevolent patience towards his eastern breed son, “Scott, there’s more to it that just holding on.  Your brother has a special touch, the touch of a horse whisperer that few men possess that skill, very few indeed.”

“A horse whisperer?”

“Well Scott if you were watching closely, you would have seen Johnny talking to the horse, as he bridled and saddled it, there are some who wouldn’t bothered doing that, just roughly prepare the animal.  Notice too, that your brother doesn’t use his spurs to jab the animal, making it bleed and scream in pain.  In fact, Johnny uses them sparingly,” explained Murdoch as he pointed this out to Scott.  “With your brother, it’s about gaining the animal’s respect enough so the horse trusts Johnny to not harm him.  Breaking an animal is one thing, allowing the animal to retain its spirit and dignity is quite another thing.”

“There are some who would try and traumatize the animal into giving up his spirit, but not a horse whisperer, they maximizes the value of the animal, make them become part of the rider, like a well-balanced partnership so to speak,” added Murdoch.

“I understand, Sir, Johnny does indeed seem to build a level of trust between him and the animal.  But I still would like the opportunity to try it for myself.  Who knows perhaps I’m a bit of a horse whisperer myself.”

Just then Johnny was walking the settled horse around the corral and overheard Scott’s last statement.  Pulling to a stop in front of them, he grinned down at his brother, as he hooked one leg over the black’s neck around the saddle horn, softly patting him and cooing, “Yea, that’s a good feller, good boy.”

“Boston, ya want try your hand at the next one?” he asked as he ran his fingers through his jet black hair to smooth down the unruly locks from his wild ride.

“Sure, don’t see any reason not to, if I’m going to learn all about being a rancher, breaking horses is just another part of it, right Johnny?”

Johnny jumped down, hitching the black to the railing he removed the saddle and began rubbing the horse down.  He looked thoughtfully at Scott, allowing his eyes to look him over, up and down slowly, measuring his true grit, “Well, Boston I don’t know if this is something you’re suited to do.  I, mean ya could get hurt, mess up that pretty face of yours.  The girls in town wouldn’t like that at all.”

“Let me worry about my face, little brother and the girls in town.”

“Murdoch, ya got anything ta say ta his notion of breakin’ a horse?”

Murdoch looked at both his sons, assuring himself that Scott was not going to change his mind and that Johnny was not going to intentionally cause harm to his older brother, said, “Johnny, let’s see how he does.  But Scott, once you’re on, you better hold on and not let go.  That ground is much harder than it looks falling from a bucking horse.”

“Yes Sir,” agreed Scott.  “Johnny, which horse is next?”

“See that appaloosa?  That one, Boston,” pointed Johnny as he handed the reins of the black to Frank to move him to the side corral with the other three horses Johnny had already broken.

“Now, Boston I want ya ta listen good and pay attention,” began Johnny, as he unleashed his lariat, widening the loop.  “First, off he ain’t gonna be ta happy ta have this rope drop around his neck…think how it must feel ta him.  Something ya can’t reach, drawin’ tight against ya throat, it’s only natural ta fuss and fight.  Stands to reason that he’ll be mad.  A mad horse needs ta be calmed.”

“I know, I know…I’ve been watching you all morning long, Johnny.  Here let me try that,” said Scott holding out his hand for Johnny’s rope.

“I reckon so, brother,” grinned Johnny, anxious to see what Scott could do without getting himself kicked or trampled on by the horse Johnny thought to be the least wild in the six left to be broken.

“Just pay attention ta my voice,” he finished.

“Okay, you’re the horse whisperer,” said Scott as he whirled the rope high into the air, tossing and missing the appaloosa as that horse and the others paced anxiously around in the holding pen.

“Try again, only this time, try ta guess which direction the horse will turn ta avoid bein’ roped,” said Johnny watching as Scott gathered the lasso back, making loops in the rope.  “Then toss it that direction.”

Scott nodded once to Johnny, as he began whirling the rope above his head, tossing and this time hitting his target.  The appaloosa began pulling Scott in his quest for freedom.  Scott dug his heels into the ground, tugging on the rope, maneuvering the horse to the smaller pen.  With encouragement from Johnny and the other hands Scott was finally able to navigate the horse where he wanted him.

“Okay Johnny, now what,” said Scott, wiping his sweaty brow with his sheet sleeve, securing his hat back on the top of his hat.  He deemed this was much harder than it looked but decided to keep that thought to himself.

Johnny grinned, “Now ya gotta ta talk ta him.  Calm him down.  Make him think, he’s as important as ya next dancin’ partner, so ya can get the bit in his mouth and bridled him, then comes the saddling.”

“My dance partner?”

“Sure, Boston, he and ya are gonna be doin’ a dance soon, so ya want him ta listen ta your voice, respond ta your tune callin’, just like doin’ one of those fancy twirlin’ dances ya favor.”

“I believe little brother; you are referring to a waltz.  So let me get this straight, you want me to dance with this horse?  Okay, just what do I need to say to the horse to get it to dance with me?”

Johnny looked with a twinkle in his eyes at Scott, laughing, “Oh come on Scott, if ya ain’t ever danced and I mean really danced with a girl before, makin’ ya own music and not just on a dance floor, I can’t tell ya what will work for ya!  There’s a certain rhythm ta your actions ya gotta follow in order ta get ta the end result.  Ya know what I mean?” he winked at Scott.

Scott looked close at Johnny to see if this was another one of Johnny’s “let’s pull something over on Scott” pranks.  But his little brother did indeed seem serious about his directions.  Scott grinned back at him, “Okay, brother, when you put it that way, I’ve got it.  Stand back and watch the master dance instructor.”

Johnny made a grand gesture of bowing then sweeping his hand across his body to indicate to Scott to proceed.  He walked over to stand next to his father, watching Scott with an eagle eye, ready to jump in if necessary.

“Son, don’t you think you should stay a little closer to your brother?”

“Nah, not right now Murdoch, he and the ‘lossa are busy gettin’ acquainted.  They need some private time together.”


“Shhh Murdoch, I’ll tell ya later.  Let me listen and watch him, see that he does alright.”

Scott did manage after a few tries to get the bit in the horse’s mouth and bridle the wary horse that kept bobbing and shaking his head as much as he could in the small enclosure.  The horse clearly was not pleased to taste the foreign piece of metal between his jaws and nickered his displeasure.  Scott continued talking in a low, smoothing voice, occasionally making eye contract with Johnny.  Johnny nodded his approval as he watched Scott closely, preparing the horse to be ridden.

Seeing that Scott was finished, Johnny walked back over to his brother, “Now hold up there a second, Boston.  Here put on your gloves ta prevent the rope from burnin’ your hands.”  He handed Scott his pair of leather gloves that he had left by Murdoch.  “Before ya mount that horse, remember a few more things.”


“Hold on tight and try ta figure out which direction he’ll be headin’ for.  Ya want ta arch back if he tilts forward and lean forward if he kicks up his hind end, ta take off some of the thuddin’ in the saddle.  Go the opposite direction of the horse ta counter act the pull of gravity, it’ll help keep ya in the saddle.”

“Got it, Johnny.  Anything else?”

“Yep, if ya feel yourself fallin’, roll with the fall and throw your arms over ya head, so ya don’t get your head smash in by his hooves.”

“Is that all?” asked Scott now looking a tad bit concerned.

“Yep, you’re about ready as ya can be ta let ‘er buck, Boston!”

Scott smirked, “Is that your way of telling me to break a leg?”

Johnny stared at Scott, “Hell no, Boston!  I ain’t tellin’ ya ta break a leg!  Ya don’t want ta break a leg, or an arm or your guts…the ol’ man is countin’ on those for around here.  Are ya crazy?”

“Johnny it’s just an expression.”

“Yeah?  Well I reckon it’s a dumb one if ya ask me.  Let ‘er buck is a better one.  How about ya cowboy up and hang on tight for the ride of your life?”

Scott climbed to the top of the pen and eased his weight down on to the appaloosa who tried shifting in the small space.  Scott adjusted his hat tight, tugged at his gloves, checked his feet in the stirrups, picked up the stout rope used as breaking reins shortened the lead and then he took a deep breath.

“Not ta late, Boston, ta change ya mind,” said Johnny leaning in to checked the saddle girth, the length of the stirrups and the slack in the reins.  “Nobody will think anything less of ya.”

Scott looked at his brother with solid determination flashing in his blue eyes, “Johnny, like you said, let ‘er buck.”

Johnny looked at Scott, shrugged his shoulders and said, “Okay Boston, it’s your funeral.”  He jumped down off the railing, released the latch and swung the gate open, stepping back to the railing and watched.

The appaloosa charged out to what he hoped was freedom, bucking and rearing with the knowledge that he wanted whatever was on his back not to be there any longer.  He twisted, turned, jumped, and kicked but the load stayed put.

Scott was vaguely aware of shouts of encouragement from the sidelines.  He hazily noticed flashes of bright colors whirling pass him as his attention was focused strictly on the bucking, pitching animal.  Such forces he had never before experience, nor such bone jarring aches as each jolt back into the saddle rattled his back teeth, and his groin felt the sharp piercing smarting when he made contact with the unforgivably hard saddle.  He sincerely hoped that he did not land by mistake on the saddle horn, that wouldn’t be too enjoyable he thought as his lean rump hit the saddle repeatedly.

Round and round the appaloosa took him as he held on, hoping that soon the horse would tired out and calm down.  It seemed like an eternity that he had been in this dance, that his brother called it when suddenly the appaloosa charged the fence.  Scott’s immediate thought was that the horse meant to jump the corral fence, seeking the wide open range in front of him.  But no, the horse abruptly stopped its forward charge, surprising Scott who had not anticipated that move.  Scott flew from the saddle, over the fence, landing with a solid splash in the nearby watering trough.  He laid there, the wind knocked out from his lungs, as Johnny and several hands reached to pull him up to a sitting position.

Hands slapped on his back, while Scott coughed, spurting water from his nose and mouth.  He shook his head and pushed wet locks from his face as he sat in the trough.

“Ya okay there, Boston?” asked Johnny as he leaned down to peer into Scott’s eyes.  “Anything hurt?  Or broke?”

“Don’t suppose that horse is fully broke yet,” questioned Scott.

“Nope, he still in there buckin’ and tryin’ ta toss off the saddle.  What about ya?”

Scott twisted his neck, stretching muscles, flexing arms and legs before standing up, “Gentlemen, I believe that I am fine.  Now if you will kindly step aside, I will go change out of these wet clothes.”

“Like hell ya will.  Ya ain’t goin’ anywhere, Boston,” said Johnny.  “If nothing’s broke, includin’ the ‘loosa…you’re getting your scrawny butt back up on him.  Ya started the dance, now finished it.”

“What?  Like this?  Just in case you didn’t notice, brother, I’m soaked.  I’m going inside and change out of these wet clothes.”

Murdoch was standing behind the men, looked at Scott, “Johnny’s right Scott, when you get thrown down, you get right back in the saddle, as soon as you hit the ground.  You heard that the tough get going when the going gets tough.  And around here what we say is, boy you better cowboy up.”

“Arms, legs and guts is it Sir?” questioned the dripping Scott, who stepped out of the watering trough, placing his wet hat back on top of his head.

“You better believe it, son,” agreed his father.  “Now come on, you almost had that horse eating out of the palm of your hand.  A few more circles around the corral ought to do it, wouldn’t you agree Johnny?”

“Yeah, ol’ man.  Scott will be ready to finish off the rest of them, give me a break,” smirked Johnny.

“Oh no, rounding up those wild horses and breaking them was your idea Johnny.  After that horse and I are finished, you dance with the rest of them.  I’ll do my dancing with the ladies from now on, thank you very much.”

“I tried ta tell ya, Boston, it’s not an easy lesson ta learn.  Just be glad ya landed in water for ya first buck off instead of biting the dust!  That wouldn’t have photographed too well, not that this is much better!”

Scott looked over at his smart aleck little brother and grinned, “Johnny, here you try it out for size,” as he reach out and grabbed Johnny’s shirt front pulling him into the watering trough.  “Now there you go, cowboy up yourself!”

Johnny fell in face first, twisted over and sat up, spurted water from his mouth and pushed his long raven black locks from his face, grinned at his brother’s sense of humor, “Thanks Boston, been wantin’ ta cool off.  This still don’t let ya off the hook, ya still gettin’ your wet ass back up on that horse and finish the dance that ya started.”

The End

Patti H. – July 23, 2009

Part Two – I’m An Old Cowhand Who Found My El Dorado


Reader’s Notes:  National Day of the American Cowboy

The National Day of the American Cowboy Resolution, passed by the United States Senate in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008, proclaimed the 4th Saturday of July as a celebratory day to commemorate our cowboy and Western heritage, as well as to honor working cowboys and ranchers, Western musicians and artists, cowboy poets, and all the others who continue to contribute to our cowboy and Western culture.

Our sole purpose in drafting and promoting the National Day of the American Cowboy resolution is to encourage recognition of and appreciation for the American cowboy. By sharing information about the campaign, celebrations, and ceremonies, we hope to ensure that the National Day of the American Cowboy achieves the highest possible level of public involvement and awareness, and is finally passed in perpetuity (the resolution has to be reintroduced each year until it is officially designated a national day of observance by the President).

National Day of the Cowboy Resolution 2009

H.L.C.: P.L.


(Original Signature of Member)

111th Congress


Expressing support for the designation of July 25, 2009 as ‘‘National Day of the Cowboy’’.


Ms. GIFFORDS submitted the following resolution which will be referred to the Committee on


Whereas pioneering men and women known as cowboys helped establish the American West;

Whereas the cowboy embodies honesty, integrity, courage, compassion, respect, a strong work ethic, courage and patriotism;

Whereas the cowboy spirit exemplifies strength of character, sound family values and good common sense;

Whereas the cowboy archetype transends ethnicity, gender, geographic boundaries, and poitical affiliation;

Whereas the cowboy is an excellent steward of the land and its creatures;

Whereas the cowboy lives off the land and works to protect and enhance the environment;

Whereas cowboy traditions have been part of the American culture for generations;

Whereas the cowboy continues to be an important part of the economy, through the work of approximately 727,000 ranchers in all 50 States, and contributes to the well being of nearly every county in the Nation;

Whereas annual attendance at professional and working ranch rodeo events exceeds 27,000,000 fans, and the rodeo is the 7th most watched sport in the Nation;

Whereas membership and participation in rodeo and other organizations that promote and encompass the livelihood of the cowboy spans race, gender, and generations;

Whereas the cowboy is a central figure in literature, film, and music, and occupies a central place in the public imagination;

Whereas the cowboy is an American icon; and

Whereas the ongoing contributions made by cowboys and cowgirls to their communities should be recognized and encouraged: Now, therefore, be it

1. Resolved, That the House of Representatives—

(1) expresses support for the designation of a ‘‘National Day of the Cowboy’’; and

(2) encourages the people of the United States to observe the day with appropriate ceremonies and activities.


Thank you for reading! The authors listed on this site spend many hours writing stories for your enjoyment, and their only reward is the feedback you leave. So please take a moment to leave a comment.  Even the simplest ‘I liked this!” can make all the difference to an author and encourage them to keep writing and posting their stories here.  You can comment in the ‘reply’ box below or email Patti H. directly.


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