Click on the cover picture above to read John's feature article from the March 2012 issue of THE MORGAN HORSE magazine entitled "Scaling Mountains
on a Morgan". This article was awarded First Place by American Horse Publications
in 2012 as best Feature Single Article for that year in the United States.
In the fall of 2008 the two Morgan mares, Gab Creek Gay Mashanta and Althea Moro, carried and/or packed John and his
partner Jim Hallman the length of the Cloud Peak Wilderness in North East
Wyoming, enduring a temperature drop of 60 degrees and an unexpected foot of
snow. John says "we were so far in there that at age 62 and over 10,000ft
altitude we would have been in trouble, but with the Morgans all we had to
do was sit up and ride." To see a photo album of this trip click
here. To see these same Morgans on Pryor Mountain, MT in search of the famous "Cloud",
And to see these mares in the Platte River
Wilderness click here.
Pictures from John's ride with his Morgan mares through the Cloud Peak Wilderness last fall have been compiled into this video.
The video was created by Cheryl Kemptner, a high school
classmate of John's, for their class
reunion website (45th!).
Yes, Morgans do still work cattle, and have an innate sense about it. The
following series of photos (taken the summer of 2007) is of John on
the Morgan mare JaF Twilight Dream Dancer in the Sierra-Nevada moving cattle from down near Porterville up to the Golden Trout Wilderness in the Sequoia National Forest. This was a green mare but she took to the job like a duck to water.
Photos by Dancer's breeder Jo Johnson of Jaquima a Freno Morgan
Stock Horses. Click here to read the article about this cattle drive.
And Morgans can pack and they certainly don't mind a crupper after 100 years of carriage service.
This Morgan mare was unshod and stayed sound over a six day 54 mile cattle drive from 1,200 ft to over 8,000 ft.
John's Cowboy Poetry
I know this girl, named Lucy Ray,
She called me just the other day.
It struck me funny what she had to say,
But from horses, she can’t stay away.
“Hutch, I’m feeding nine, and that’s OK,
Since what they eat is mostly hay.
Can’t work all week and ride that many,
So, nine is just a gracious plenty.
But there’s a mare in Californi ‘A’
She’s been on cattle and likes to play.
A buckskin, not a bay,
Someone will haul her out this way.
And then with me she can here stay.
An even number now is ten,
And that’s much better
(Fungswhe, Karma, Zen)
Plus counting mares in pairs is such a win!
She’s a Morgan, don’t you know.
I have seven ‘Justins’ in my pen.
The quarter horses I can sell to cowboy friends.
Then three more Morgans would put me back to ten!”
You see her mind, it works this way:
Horses, shoes and hay.
Bull riders, farriers, clowns and 4H kids,
In blue jeans she is bound to stay, my horsey friend, Lucy Ray.
The following poem can also be found on John's page on cowboypoetry.com here.
Ed Dabney survived seven winters as a cowboy in Wyoming. He told me this tale of fright over dinner one evening and the
next day I wrote this poem sitting on my horse on the third day of a Buck Branaman Clinic. Buck probably thought I was
trying to take down every word he said. But the muse had come on me and I had to get it down on paper. So this is a
cowboy special literally written in the saddle. It is funny now. But a feller can easily get crippled for life if not killed out right in a situation like this.
The Fast Elk
Ed Dabney, for the freezer, shot 'im an elk one fall.
He was living out near Dubois, working for the “Hole In the Wall.”
It was gettin' late, so Ed, he thought, “I’ll quarter in the morn.”
But that night come a snowfall, eighteen inches of fresh corn.
Next morning Ed, he trailered up, with Penny and old Dan.
“Quartering and packing is a lot of work, old man.”
“With this fresh snow I could slide it down, and take it home intact.”
“The shed would be much warmer, plumb dry and cozy in fact!”
“It ought to be real easy. It’s downhill to my truck.”
We'll have this done 'fore breakfast time, with any kind of luck.
So, up the hill he rode his horse, Dan breaking through the snow.
And found his cow elk ready, pointed downhill for the go!
Ed dropped a loop right on her head and dallied up just right.
He broke her free and turned his horse and felt it come up tight.
There was a little bench up there.
And the Elk it seemed to lodge.
Ed says to Dan, "Come on ol' friend, we're getting’ outta Dodge!"
He touched old Dan with his Texas rowels, the honda choked down tight.
The rope, it sang like Dixie, Dan’s eyes they bulged out white.
Have you ever had a premonition, a blinding flash of light?
That elk came free like a NASA launch- it passed old Dan in flight!
Now, the rope has snarled Ed’s dallies.
The elk she run up tight.
And that cow, again she passed them, this time, on the right!
Ed and horse are leaping, twenty meters to the bound.
Ed's fumblin' at his dallies- seemed like light years from the ground.
Old Dan’s a Grand Prix jumping, logs and five foot spruce,
Adrenalines a pumping, thoughts of morphine, pins and screws.
Ed saw the purple mountains, he heard the siren song.
He marveled at God’s creation and prayed his life be long.
But now the slope, it levels out.
The truck, it is in sight.
Ed guessed he's dodged the bullet, it just might be all right.
But he's too old, too wise in fact, his victory to boast.
He thanks the gods of mercy, and that old cow-elk's ghost.
The moral of the story, friends? Wrecks happen in a flash.
Gravity can lead to problems, when you get all bold and rash.
Corn snow is like ball bearings, slick as gravy on a fork.
So keep you knife real handy, when you try to save on work!
It was a few years back that my young farrier friend was into bull riding.
He kept asking me to come watch him ride and he was ranked pretty high at
the time so I went about 40 miles to where he was riding on a Friday night.
He sure was dressed nice. I mean he had a flashy outfit....green chaps, new
boots, expensive hat. Anyhow he rode the bull for about a second and a half
and then the bull rode him for the next sixteen seconds. Even though I was
over 50 by then, I managed to go from the nose bleed seats to the rail by
which time 25 guys were in there trying to get him loose. Well, he wasn't
hurt ....except for his pride. The next day I got to thinking about it and
got tickled and the muse came on me to write this poem.
Without A Rope
Austin Tally took no dally,
A rope he did despise,
He'd ride that bull without a rope,
(He's crazy, certified).
"Like Davy, I'll just grin him down,"
Austin, he declared.
So to the chute with brand-new boots,
He sauntered with teeth bared.
Old "Redeye" gave a baleful look,
He'd seen them come and go.
Another cowboy, "Hey, where's your rope?"
(This one he must be slow).
"Don't need no rope with this here grin,"
Austin, he replied.
And he slipped down onto ol' Redye,
Who rolled his evil eye.
If grinning didn't work,
Why he'd just grab both ears.
"It's only for eight seconds,"
(And then he'd hear them cheer).
So behind that hump he scooted,
And yelled, "Let's let him out!"
And when the gate was opened,
The dust whirled all about.
But Austin wasn't grinning,
And over all the shouts,
The cowboys sitting on the rail,
Could hear him bellow out.
"I thought I had him figured,
My plan was all worked out;
I started out a grinnin'
Right now I'm plumb grinned out!"
"Behind those horns I'm lookin'
Does the hospital here serve beers?
Next time I'll dang sure bring my rope--
Ol' Redeye's got no ears!"