Cowboys & Wild Horses

Arnot continued describing Horse Farming activity at the MACKAY farm:

“Please be reminded that these horses were brought east to the MACKAY farm to be sold, and in order for that to happen, the cowboys had to break the horses to harness – a process that varied greatly with each individual animal.”

“The breaking process was generally started once a prospective buyer picked out a certain horse from a group, it was quickly cornered and expertly lassoed. It was then gradually tamed, first to halter, next harness, and finally put between a pair of strong poles that act as shafts. They are held together by a couple of boards that also served as a seat far enough from the animal to miss its heels. Once the horse was driven around in the poles for a couple of days he gets used to shafts, the harness, pulling things, and being driven. A cart with strong shafts was soon substituted for the poles, and finally in the last stage a shift was made to a buggy.”

“It was quite possible a farmer or other buyer would take the horse before the buggy stage believing he could give this stage of the training himself.”

“The early part of the training was started on the farm, but sooner or later it would be transferred to the streets of the village. The stage and time of appearing on the street depended in part upon the temperment of the animal, but usually depended upon the whim of the cowboy. As a result all stages of the training process might be seen on the street.”

“At times one might see a cowboy in a saddle having his horse drag around a pair of heavy rails or leave the empty saddle on the horse while driving him with the reins, from a makeshift seat. At no time could the cowboy be sure his animal might get an idea for unexpected action and start running and kicking – giving any spectators on the street good reason to quickly seek safety.”

“Naturally with all this wild horse activity, the cowboys were seen with a lasso either in one hand or over a saddle horn on the MACKAY farm and frequently on the village street. So it should be no surprise to be told every Morewood boy owned one or more ropes to whirl and use in practice. The rope was tried out on other boys in various ways. A common practice was for one small boy to be carried around on the back of a larger boy, while others would use their lassoes. Every animal around the village must have had more than a little experience running from a lasso, whether dog, cat, cow, horse, sheep, or goat. From years of constant practice, some of the boys became expert in the throwing of the rope.”