REAL WORK­ING COW­BOYS

EQUUS - - Conformation Insights - All pho­tos ex­cept for the one above and above right by Er­win Smith, cour­tesy of the Amon Carter Mu­seum, Fort Worth, Texas.

This se­ries of pho­tos rep­re­sents a time se­quence. This im­age, taken by Ed­ward Cur­tis, cap­tures a cow­boy on the Chisholm Trail, about 1885; his Cayuse is a smooth blend of “Billy” and Mus­tang.

An African-Amer­i­can cow­boy at­tends a ranch rodeo and roundup on his day off. His horse is al­most pure “Billy”— very close in type to the mod­ern reg­is­tered Quar­ter Horse, with straight neck and huge mus­cu­lar hindquar­ters. A lit­tle Span­ish in­flu­ence shows through the head. Note the high-bowed sad­dle with two fully func­tional cinches ( this cow­boy was smart enough to tie them to­gether with a safety strap).

Mat Walker sits atop his fa­mous cut­ting horse “Doo­dle Bug”— note that his mount has as much Span­ish char­ac­ter as it does “Billy.” Cow sense in the Quar­ter Horse largely de­rives from that breed’s Mus­tang her­itage.

A Cal­i­for­nian with hair chaps and a mo­hair “sad­dle duster” rides a horse who is a long-backed Cayuse sim­i­lar to those in “Army Is­sue,” page 55.

A Mex­i­can cow­boy in 1908, poses on a horse with overo pat­tern­ing and a bald face.

Movie star Tom Mix poses atop “Old Blue.” In the hand­writ­ten in­scrip­tion on this “fan card,” Mix says some­what wist­fully that the grulla Cayuse was the best horse he ever rode: “We grew old to­gether.” This an­i­mal was never fea­tured in Mix’s movies but was likely a horse he owned be­fore his turn in Hol­ly­wood, when he was still a work­ing cow­boy. The tack is Hol­ly­wood-Span­ish. This head shape, with a high “dish” and long nee­dle-nose, is char­ac­ter­is­tic of some Mus­tang herds.

This fel­low with movie-star good looks worked for the Spur Ranch in Texas. His mount shows South­ern Sad­dler or Moun­tain Horse in­flu­ence, which blends Hobby and Thor­ough­bred ( dis­cussed in pre­vi­ous in­stall­ments). This is the kind of horse rep­re­sented by the foun­da­tional Quar­ter Horse sire Trav­eller, who was foaled at about the same time ( much more about Trav­eller in our next in­stall­ment). Note the 60-foot braided leather ri­ata, curb bit, bri­dle with no nose­band, re­mov­able buck rolls, nar­row-tread oxbow stir­rups and, un­usu­ally, a sin­gle cinch.

The cloth­ing, tack and choice of mount of this ranch man­ager pho­tographed in 1908 New Mex­ico are all purely prac­ti­cal. He ropes with the long ri­ata, his horn is of slick metal so he can eas­ily “play” the cat­tle he ropes af­ter dal­ly­ing (“dally” is an An­glo-Amer­i­can cor­rup­tion of Span­ish

da la vuelta mean­ing “to wind some­thing up”). The horse is a Cayuse with Span­ish head, legs and hindquar­ters, but show­ing Thor­ough­bred in­flu­ence through the shoul­ders, neck and thighs.

This is a ranch man­ager in Bon­ham, Texas, in 1920. By this date, the days of the great cat­tle drives were over and the Cayuse was be­ing re­placed every­where, ei­ther by hand­some, smoothly-con­formed, mus­cu­lar horses like this one which are of a type cer­tainly an­ces­tral to the mod­ern reg­is­tered Quar­ter Horse— or by au­to­mo­biles and farm ma­chin­ery.

Henry Ly­man, range boss of the LS Ranch in Texas, over­looks the Cana­dian River in 1910. His horse is much heav­ier and shorter through the neck and more sub­stan­tial and mus­cu­lar gen­er­ally, than any of the oth­ers in this ar­ti­cle. My guess is that this an­i­mal rep­re­sents a blend of Span­ish and Mor­gan with a touch of Thor­ough­bred. Cayuses of this type cer­tainly did con­trib­ute to the foun­da­tion of the Amer­i­can Quar­ter Horse when it fi­nally came to be a breed.

main­tain­ing fences were not Quar­ter Horses but small, com­pact and tough Plains Cayuses, a type adapted to the coun­try and to the con­di­tions of early ranch­ing. There are nu­mer­ous rep­re­sen­ta­tional paint­ings of Colo­nial Span­ish horses from be­fore 1840 and hun­dreds of pho­tos of Plains Cayuses dat­ing from the 1860s to the 1920s that give a very clear idea of what they looked like. The photo gal­leries pre­sented here al­low you to fol­low their story with a whole ar­ray of “western” char­ac­ters, in­clud­ing Theodore Roo­sevelt, Texas Rangers, moun­tain men, work­ing cow­boys and even Tom Mix, a movie star who had once been a real work­ing cow­boy.

Com­ing next: The Mod­ern Quar­ter Horse Emerges

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