The Bronc Ballet

Still playing catch up here from spending all of last summer mule packing in the Eastern Sierra, but I wanted to put pen to paper, as they say, or maybe fingers to keys to keep it with the times. Nevertheless, this is a written account of the story that some of you might be following through our social media accounts (which we love the support!).

Now that I have willing partners in this journey.... I’m throwing a wrench in the works. Up until this point, I’ve been able to climb on them, but only by laying down on their backs like they are a sofa.


Sitting up puts me above their heads and, not surprisingly, resembles a mountain lion pouncing on them and going for the back of the skull with jaws wide open. Of course I’m not actually doing that, but we have to keep in mind that these animals are prey animals and that instinct is extremely hard-wired into them. This is why groundwork and building that trust and common language is so important before even considering climbing on them. If the time wasn’t spent on the ground getting to know each other, it would be a little like an arranged marriage; sure, after time, you might figure out that you actually like this person that your parents have decided you are going spend the rest of your life with, but at first, its going to be a very rough ride…. 

Gary was the first one. We went through all of the steps we had been doing up to that point, re-affirming our trust, and then I went for it. Gary handled it like the good boy he was, until I reached back and touched his butt to praise how well he was doing. When I reached back and he felt that strange touch, he spun and took off causing my Australian saddle to slip, leaving me with a mouth full of dust and looking at the bottom side of my stirrups in a way that only Dave Stamey can describe….


“At a hack stable or brandin' pen

Any place you might find some bow legged men

Ask any old hand

He's bound to say he's got the answer


To the bronc ballet


If your pony breaks in two

There are certain things a fellah' needs to do

If you follow his advice right down to the letter

Your buck off average is bound to get better

Only problem is, you can't find two in a thousand of em' that'l tell you the same thing

There're those who'll tell ya it's in your seat

And the way a fellow holds his feet

You gota sit back a little and drop your heels

Try it one time son see how it feels

Others say the thing to do

Is jerk him sideways a time or two

Pull his head around to the left or the right

And break his momentum, he'll give up the fight

Oh yeah, don't forget to stay loose

Others say to rake some fur

Get agressive use your spurs

Just jab them gut hooks into his side

And bust him into a run it's easier to ride

Probably won't go through a fence

Stay relaxed now don't get tense

And if he happens to run you underneath a tree

Remember decapitation is preferable to a buck off, 'cus that can be embarrassing

Don't worry pard, I bet they can sew that ear back on

Some call it shameful to grab the horn

Others say there is no scorn

For those of us that have to go pullin' leather

Because stayin' aboard is always better

Problem is it happens way too fast

Ain't got a chance to grab your slack

Gives a grunt and he leaves the ground

N' farts you off n' drags you around

Hard to catch your breath when that happens

Thing is the guys that tell you this stuff

They kind of like it when things get rough

They say they don't want you to break your neck

But they do enjoy watchin' a good wreck

They been bucked off themselves a time or two

Ain't about to make it any easier for you

And the secret they're keepin to themselves of course

The best way to handle a snorty horse

Is to let some other idiot ride him“

When I saw my stirrups slapping together above my saddle horn, I knew then that it all went wrong. This ballet of ours resulted in my boot splitting in two (and put in motion the solution for our footwear while on the trail, which I'll talk about later, but a whisper in the ear... Nicks Boots).


Now unfortunately, I’m the idiot that Dave Stamey speaks about, and if I’m the idiot then that’s just fine with me. So after a quick dust off and a shot of whiskey to calm the nerves, I tighten my cinch and climb back on to finish our ride on a good note, which we did of course.


You see, the problem with the saddle I can fix, and my bruises will heal. But having that memory and to know what it feels like to climb on the back of a Mustang - the symbol of the American West that is borderless and free. To connect with that animal’s spirit and feel it's heart beating under my legs…that makes all of this worth it. All the pain, the dust, and worries go away and I wouldn’t change it for anything.


Author: Trent Peterson