MID­NIGHT: THE HORSE WHO COULDN’T BE RID­DEN

Spin to Win Rodeo - - The X Factor -

In 1916, a stocky colt of mixed parent­age was born on Jim McNab’s Cot­ton­wood Ranch in Al­berta, Canada. The coal-black horse was named Mid­night, and he would even­tu­ally be known as one of the great­est buck­ing horses of all time.

From the start, it was ev­i­dent Mid­night would never be a ranch horse thanks to his pro­cliv­ity for throw­ing riders. Cap­i­tal­iz­ing on his horse’s talent for dis­mount­ing cow­boys, McNab en­tered Mid­night in lo­cal rodeos, and he soon dom­i­nated the cir­cuit. Though gen­tle on the ground, Mid­night was a four-legged tor­nado when turned from the chutes and he quickly gained a rep­u­ta­tion as a horse no one could ride—though the best tried.

As Mid­night cam­paigned at rodeos across Canada and the United States— re­ceiv­ing mar­quee billing and crowds wor­thy of rock stars—the sport’s great­est riders vied for the chance to be the first cow­boy to cover the rene­gade horse. The likes of Earl Thode, Paddy Ryon and Ed­die Woods were all bested by the black bronc. Most riders could only hang on for two or three sec­onds—un­til 1930, when world cham­pion bronc rider Pete Knight gave Mid­night a run for his money.

At the 1930 Cheyenne Fron­tier Days, Knight was of­fered $50 (though some say $100) to give an ex­hi­bi­tion ride on Mid­night. The two had been paired be­fore, and Knight was ea­ger for a re­match with his old ad­ver­sary.

It was a ride that made his­tory, with fans stand­ing in their seats and scream­ing in sup­port of both the cow­boy and the horse. In the end, Mid­night emerged the vic­tor. Knight had only man­aged to ride the horse for seven sec­onds, the long­est any­one had man­aged to stay on.

In 1933, Mid­night made his last U.S. ap­pear­ance at Cheyenne Fron­tier Days. Dur­ing his long ca­reer, he was never suc­cess­fully rid­den. Though claims have been made other­wise, no one is on record as hav­ing of­fi­cially rid­den him.

To­day, Mid­night is buried at the Na­tional Cow­boy and West­ern Her­itage Mu­seum in Ok­la­homa City. His grave­stone bears the fol­low­ing epi­taph:

Un­der­neath this sod lies a great buck­ing hoss. There never lived a cow­boy he couldn’t toss. His name was Mid­night his coat was black as coal. If there’s a hoss heaven, please God, rest his soul.

In 1979, Mid­night was posthu­mously in­ducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame.

GLENBOW ARCHIVES

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