There isn’t much worse in the world than people who are cruel to children and animals. Even worse are people who are cruel to horses when they are being broken in, or started. There are two ways to do this, you can break them or you can start them. You could call this the wrong way and the right way. This is a piece of verse about both ways.


An outlaw horse is somewhat rare, but every now and then
A seeming brute will come along that will test the best of men
He just will not be broken, though many men will try
To bend the will of the horse to theirs and pay for it with their life

On a station in the Territory by the name of Mungandeer
Such a horse was in the mob to be broken in that year
Sixteen hands of perfect horse, coal black with a white hind sock
He stood out from the rest of the mob, he’d come from Waler stock

Watching with interest the goings on in the yard where among much mirth
One by one the rest of the mob had been broken to bit and girth
Then his turn came to be roped and pulled along the narrow race
Where he stood and eyed the breaker in all his majestic grace

A test of wills would be fought here, the breaker could see in it his eye
Here was a horse that was different, with a spirit that may not say die
The breaker sent him round the pen setting a cracking pace
He was feeling a little dubious, but no sign showed upon his face

Direction reversed and still no sign of submission from the colt
The breaker decided it was the time to apply a frontal assault
He roped the colt and choked him down, no gentleness applied
Then left him lying there in the dust with front and back legs tied

A bit then forced into his mouth, he was at last allowed to his feet
A saddle was mounted on his back, the breaker prepared to take his seat
Three burly ringers held the horse and waited to watch the show
The breaker took position and then called out “Let go”

The colt just stood for a moment and then exploded with all his might
The breaker gripped with all he could and felt the first sense of fright
For he’d never ridden a horse like this, such power and spirit in one
But the contest would soon be over and either horse or man would have won

The colt he bucked and twisted and pig rooted round the yard
The breaker stayed with him all the way and gripped the saddle hard
When the colt could not shift the weight he reared over on his back
The breaker now beneath him, the ringers heard his neck go crack

Since that time breakers have come and gone and many tried their hand
At riding the horse known as Outlaw that became known throughout the land
A purse was offered to the man who could ride him to a halt
Many tried, some even died, but the winner was always the colt

Then one day a tall quietly spoken stockman rode into have a go
He looked saddle wise from the way he walked with very little show
With only a book and chair he just sat in the middle of the yard
Just reading the book he ignored the horse who by now was battle scarred

An hour went by, then another and the colt just trotted around
This was confusing, the stockman ignored him, he stopped to paw the ground
Then the stockman felt the horse’s breath on the hairs at the back of his neck
He grinned a wry smile to himself, but still kept himself in check

A little nudge from the colt and slowly the stockman raised his hand
He patted the colt upon the nose, never done before by man
The colt leaned forward as the stockman rubbed his hand between his eyes
A bond developing between man and horse, where before this was just a guise

The stockman rose, the colt stood still while he ran his hand along his back
Then he walked across to the yard rail, the colt followed in his track
He took the bridle from the post and rubbed the horse’s head
Whilst still a little nervous, the colt had lost his fearful dread

Slowly along his back he went and then down the sides as well
Proving to the colt there was no need for fear, then giving it to him to smell
With thumb in the corner of his mouth he slid the bridle over his ears
The colt took the bit and chewed thoughtfully, it seemed there was nothing to fear

The blanket next, the colt sniffed at it as it was raised and put in place
All the while the stockman talked quietly, reassuring the colt he was safe
The saddle next, the colt wary now, it would be the real test
The stockman still talking quietly, but would the colt protest

But no, the colt was trusting him as he reached through for the girth
And slowly tightened the buckles up, ensuring it didn’t hurt
Then rubbing the colt all over, talking quietly as he checked the gear
The horse just stood and relaxed, where before there’d been nothing but fear

He took the reins and rubbed the horse, soothing words he spoke all the time
Then put weight on the stirrup, leaned over the saddle and rubbed the other side
He mounted then and just sat there while the colt listened to him talk
Then with a gentle pull on the rein he moved the colt off at a walk

The ringers looked on amazed just waiting for the show
But clearly this stockman was different and it wasn’t to be the go
He rode the colt in circles at the walk and trot and canter
Backed him, dismounted then mounted again ignoring the ringer’s banter

The colt was started, he trusted this man, that was all he needed to do
To find a man who would show him respect and he would do the same thing too
So let this be a lesson for if applied it can never fail
Force and toughness rarely win, but kindness will always prevail.

© Ric Raftis – February 2003