(as told to Walt Thayer, Box 2175, Wenatchee, WA 98801)
The story of the famous bucking horse, Midnight, in a recent edition of Real West, prompts me to tell what I know about bucking horses.
The greatest of them all, in my opinion, was a beautiful blood bay called 'Pin Ears,' owned by Johnnie Wig toe of 20-Mile Park, Colorado. The tips of this horse's ears were frozen at the time he was born. He made 53 riders bite the dust before anyone rode to the finish. That was long before the 'sissy Holly wonders' thought up the flank strap.
Pin Ears was a 'sun fisher' and sometimes it looked like he'd come down flat on one side or the other, but he always hit the ground on his feet. With a tight buckled flank strap a horse can't get his head down to buck like the old timers. That's why every bucker of later years comes out just kicking his heels up and all but standing on his head. Hard to sit, sure, but I wouldn't walk across the street to watch a bucker nowadays.
There were other famous bucking horses equally as good as Midnight, such as Steamboat and some from the Northwest like Rubber Doll, Shake 'Em Down Sally, Snake, 5 Minutes to Midnight and Badger Mountain.
After I retired from rodeo, ranching and the Wild West shows, my friend, Gordon Yowell of Walla Walla, Washington bought a lot of my early day equipment for his museum, such as saddle, hair bridle, spurs, spinning ropes, beaded gloves and even my trunk I had when I was with the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show. We had a certain kind of trunk that would stand the gaff. I bought a 24' one from Cy Compton, the Chief of the Cowboys. He and his wife had a big one. Several rare photos were glued to the tray lid and I couldn't get them off to use with my stories.