Sunday, June 07, 2015

Good Ol' Blaze

—Anonymous Photo

—Hatch Graham, Placerville

You speak of horses great and fast
while reading of the derby last
and tell of Man-O-War and Seattle Slew,
But when it comes to packing
you'll soon find they are lacking
and you'll bet your paycheck on only very few.
It started in the summer,
and I thought the horse a bummer,
bought by our local trail crew foreman.
He was flighty and a craze
and we had to call him Blaze,
He was tall and lanky and his nose was roman.

             It was Blaze! Blaze! Blaze!
You lanky bag of mule-bones, skinny Blaze!
Here's oats, you simple dummy!
Come fill your goldarn tummy,
you cross-bred sway-back sorrel, bony Blaze.

The season did progress
and he weighed less and less
the vet came up at last and wormed him:
the hose went down his throat,
the juice would fill a boat,
but by the fall Ol' Blaze was fit and trim.
We were riding hours on the range,
and it didn't seem too strange
to see that he could really cover ground
He'd come now to my shout
from where'er he was about
and you could depend for sure that you'd be found.

               It was Blaze! Blaze! Blaze!
You ugly maverick, you only want to graze.
It's time to saddle up.
C'mon now, hup-hup-hup!
        We've got miles to make it to the river, Blaze!

His long legs would really cover ground—
often after dark before a camp was found,
an' he'd stand by as I unsaddled him.
As I unpacked our mule and fed them oats,
cooked dinner, finished off my notes,
he'd graze unhobbled 'cause I trusted him.
Morning when I shook the sack
and whistled, he was back,
an' he'd puff up when we cinched the girth.
Though he'd often try to squash my boot,
he was a gentle old recruit,
though many years well past his birth.

               It was Blaze, Blaze, Blaze!
When I couldn't see just where he'd gone to graze
and thought our hobbled mule
had played us for the fool.
Here coming from the willows is faithful Blaze.

I'll not forget the night
when I'd ridden from first light
with seven rented horses to haul the fence crew in.
The snow had started falling,
the weather was appalling,
and we had strange horses where they'd never been.
I hobbled them and grained them late,
huddled in the tent, we could only wait;
as morning dawned, no horses could be seen.
With the trail covered by a foot of snow
And a fourteen-mile way to go,
I set out with tie ropes and thoughts obscene.

           It was Blaze! Blaze! Blaze!
You traitor, where are you in this maze?
With no tracks upon the ground
How can you e'er be found?
I thought that I could trust you. Damn you, Blaze!

The day and I were cold and gray,
when from a thicket came a neigh
and my white-faced sorrel trotted into sight.
He snuffled up his grain,
I mounted bareback, with a strain,
an' headed down the trail to catch the ones in flight.
Soon rounded up and fed,
back to the camp we led,
greeted by the crew with heartfelt praise.
They'd had a serious fright
of another freezing night,
and were glad I'd put my trust in Good Ol' Blaze.

               Yes, Blaze! Blaze! Blaze!
You roman-nosed old lanky sorrel, Blaze!
Gone now, but we all know the answer:
you weren't no Native Dancer,
but in my book, you won the race, my Good Ol' Blaze.


—Medusa, thanking Hatch Graham for his cowboy poem as the Hwy. 50 Association Wagon Train completes yet another re-enactment of the journey from Lake Tahoe to Placerville. Some horses, like American Pharoah, are meant to win the Triple Crown, but others, like Blaze, have their own races to win...