Passing Judgement

  Passing Judgement 


                                                        Mike Capron

Usually when I make a strong statement about the changing times, I am either reminded of something my grandaddy said similar years ago, or I read something that reminds me how earth has been changing a lot longer than since I have been here.

I was visiting with my friend Ed Ashurst on the phone the other day and I made a comment about a ranch rodeo I had been watching…………I told him that I thought that the cowboys were getting a lot bigger and the horses a lot smaller………didn’t take long before I had to eat my statement, as I was reading a book that I had in a stack of future reading material titled “So Long Cowboys of the Open Range”, by Truman McGiffin Cheney. Truman’s dad was “Kid Amby” Cheney, who was the cowboy Charles Russell painted posed on the chuckwagon wheel of the chuckwagon in the famous painting “Bronc to Breakfast”. Charlie worked with Kid Amby on the Judith Basin Pool.  Truman had listened to lots of his dad’s stories about the cowboys of the open range days in Montana. He tells about some of the cowboys and one in particular who he worked with, and was a part of the Judith Basin Pool. The PT, located near Havre, was owned by Simon Pepin and Colonel Broadwater of Helena. Sleepy Tom was the foreman. He weighed 240 pounds, and had an oversized  saddle, and a string of big saddle horse. Tom was sensitive about his size, but his nickname came from the fact that whenever he finished a job, he laid down right there and went to sleep. One time Tome helped unharness the bed-wagon and as he pulled the last harness off, he laid down by the harness and went to sleep.  Just then a rep from the TL outfit came to camp, caught his saddle horse, and was leading him to the tent where he would leave his bed-roll.  He saw Tom lying down among the harness and said, “My God, what happened? Did you fellows kill a horse?”  Sleepy Tom never liked that rep after that and said he’d be damn glad when that  rep cut out his horses and went home to the TL.

Sleepy Tom was big, but he couldn’t compare to Baldy Buck, who weighed over 300 pounds. Baldy was an unusual cowboy; he had to have a huge fat-man’s saddle and an extra-large horse so he could ride circle. He moved his string of horses from one outfit to another, and it looked like teams of work horses. As he moved from one camp the other, he could be recognized a long way off——the huge man looming into sight over a hill and then the string of heavy horses—unlike the hundreds of slim, agile cow ponies used by most cowboys. 

Just goes to show you Big Cowboys been here since the beginning ………..I eat my words. 


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