I have seen them ride the ponies
In the sage-brush and the bad land;
I have seen them buck and beller
And turn almost inside out,
While the rider sat the saddle
And watched each snaky motion,
While the others yelled “Stay with him”
As loud as they could shout.
And often on the round-up
I have watched the cayuse antics,
When the devil got the upper-hand—
And I know he crawled inside,
And when you hit the saddle
You had just one thought before you:
To hook your spurs into the cinch
And settle down and ride.
But the wildest, meanest horses
That ever have been ridden
Or ever have been saddled,
Either here or anywhere,
As they rode and scratched them
They never once pulled leather;
They just quirted and hollered
And never once turned hair.
But this wildest riding
Was not done in the open
‘Way out on the prairies,
Or in bad lands far away,
It was done right in the bunk-house
When the cigarettes were lighted,
And the Sibley stove was glowing
And life was sweet and gay.
Or when they hit the village
And lined up at old Pete’s place,
With their foot upon the bar-rail
And a couple drinks inside,
They would loosen up their chatter
And climb upon those bronchos—
Those wild and wooly cowboys;
My God, how they would ride.
‘Twas then they’d ride and quirt them
And rake them in the shoulders;
They’d fan them with their big hat
‘Till you could hear them bawl.
But when you needed riders
And was out upon the circle,
They were a bunch of bone-heads
And could not ride at all.
But while sitting in my saddle,
Where I could see those riders
A-riding down the trail of life,
‘Twas just as plain as day
That the ones who rode the bad ones
And drew the biggest wages
Were the ones who seemed the meekest
And had the least to say.