Old Dodger-A Poem

“Phone’s for you,” my good wife said. “It’s Buster calling round.”

“He wants you to bear the flag at the gathering in town.”

“Fourth of July this Saturday,” he says to let me know

“Our mounted group will lead the parade, I’ve been searching high and low

For man and horse to represent the Sheriff’s Posse men

I know you’re busy on the ranch with work that never ends

But your horse Dodger acts the best round crowds and noise and such

And the flapping flag won’t bother him like it would my old horse Dutch

If you’d agree to serve your time I’ll help you all I can

Sunday I’ll come to the house if you could use a man.”

I think a bit then smile wide, “Sounds like a trade to me

We’ll be there bright and early for all the crowd to see.”

The day arrives, I load my horse all brushed and curried clean

New bridle path shorn at his ears, his hooves shined to a sheen

I join the Sheriff’s Posse men all mounted for the start

I take the flag unfurled now and looking mighty smart

Behind me, ‘fore the show begins a young horse shies and balks

It takes a while to get him calmed and ready for a walk

Old Dodger steps out in the lead relaxed and travlin’ right

While other horses follow close, nervous, full of fright

The crowd’s a waving, whistling too, and clapping for the flag

As we walk by I puff my chest, proud of our little jag

The fire engine right behind lets out a siren call

Two horses right quick break in two, a buckin’ through it all

Off to the side they bolt and run, plumb leaving the parade

Through folks a watching from the curb now calling for first aid

The rest of us look straight ahead pretending we don’t see

When out of nowhere fireworks start popping all round me

Old Dodger perks his ears, still he carefully walks along

Head down and swinging to his steps he walks right through the throng

But now we are alone except for several bucked off men

Their horses now all scattered and running with the wind

Right on through the parade we march, just me and my old friend

We’ve been through scrapes much worse than this, we’ll make it to the end

I hear a feller holler “Your horse is much too tame

“No dance, no prance, no fun to watch, he might as well be lame.”

I see his feathered cowboy hat bought for the parade alone

I see his brand new mule hide boots and know he’s never done

No cowboy work on real ranch horses, tough and hard and true

Like my good pony under me that’ll always see me through

At last the show is over and to the ranch we go

I turn Old Dodger to his stall, the sun is settin’ low

“In the morn,” I says to him, “I’ll let you have a chance

We’ll work the cows and bring ‘em in and then you’ll get to dance.”

Next morning just as promised, Old Buster shows his face

To help me with my daily chores and work here on my place

We gather fifty cows or more and push them to the pen

Five are springing heavy, I start cutting and that’s when

I turn my good horse Dodger loose and now he shows some life

He pins his ears and hunkers down and slices like a knife

Through the cow herd waiting for the cue from me to know

Which cow I want to sort and send to the river pasture low

The first cow ducks and dives, a trying to escape

But Dodger moves in front each time and keeps her in good shape

Cut from the herd the cow resigns and goes on through the gate

I smile and remember the drug store cowboy’s hate

For this old gentle horse of mine who knows the deeds to do

When to hustle on tiptoes and when to it’s best not to

Full of life and anxious now to bring the next cow out

Old Dodger follows every rein and leaves me with no doubt

That he’s the best I’ve ever owned, I’ll never trade him in

No dance, no prance is fine with me, he’s clearly my best friend.

Randall Dale