Cowboy Poetry and Music and More at the BAR-D Ranch

Lorena, Texas
About Gary Penney




Steamboat: A Bronco on the Plate

He’s been dead a hundred years
And you may not know his name,
But you can view his greatness
In the Cowboy Hall of Fame.

The Foss Ranch in Wyoming
Was the birthplace of this foal.
Born in eighteen ninety-four
This colt was black as coal.

He had a noble spirit,
A big heart filled up with pride.
You could lead him anywhere
But he wouldn’t let you ride.

Now, here’s the simple story
Of how Steamboat got his name.
He broke a bone inside his nose
And would never be the same.

On the day he got his name,
When bucking into action,
He whistled like a steamboat
While he was gainin’ traction.

Top buster after buster
Tried to break this hoss’s pride,
But this was not a saddle horse,
Not one cowpoke stuck a ride.

John Coble saw his talent—
How this horse could raise the bar.
Throwing cowboys on the ground
Would soon make him a star.

John took him up to Cheyenne—
The Granddaddy of ‘em all.
This saddle bronc named Steamboat
Threw each rider for a fall.

Like a spring wound up too tight,
More than ready to uncoil,
Jerk that blindfold off his face
And all hell began to boil.

With one high jump off he’d go
Millin’ and whirlygiggin’!
Landin’ hard on ramrod legs
Tryin’ to throw th’ riggin’.

Broken ribs or bloody nose,
This outcome was expected.
Not one hand could stand the jolt,
Each one of them ejected.

This went on for several years
As each cowboy brought his load.
He gained the reputation
As “The hoss that can’t be rode.”

Frontier Days of nineteen-eight;
An arena soft from rain.
Steamboat’s day was not to be—
One rider absorbed his pain. 

Steamboat had to fight the mud
Which took away his spinning.
Though he gave it all he had,
Dick Stanley wound up winning.

One among the few to stay
Atop this whirlin’ windmill.
Dug down deep into the tree
Dick rode him to a standstill.

Fans all said it wasn’t fair
How the mud had robbed the champ.
But Steamboat’s year was over,
Ridden in the mud and damp.

All the skies were clear and blue
For the show of nineteen-nine.
Flags and banners everywhere—
Cheyenne’s grounds were looking fine.

Cowboys came from near and far,
Riders of the highest ranks—
Minor, Sower, Brennan, Holt,
And a poke named Clayton Danks.

Little did these cowboys know
As they waited for their fate,
One's ride would be remembered
As the symbol of this state.

“Clayton Danks, you drew Steamboat,
The baddest in Wyoming.”
The judge could not hide his grin,
“You, sir, will soon be groaning!”

Clayton climbed atop Steamboat
As they prepped him for a go.
Prepared for an explosion
He knew they would be the show!

Blindfold gone, the ride was on,
Steamboat was a lightnin’ bolt!
Trying to tame this cyclone
Clayton took each twist and jolt.

With each jump his head snapped back,
His spine came close to breaking.
Nine jumps in this cowpoke knew
This ride was for his taking.

The grandstands whooped and hollered
at what they saw—
Danks took his hat and fanned him
As they all looked on in awe! 

And when that ride was over
Ol’ Steamboat was a heavin’.
But Danks was in the saddle
And showed he wasn’t leavin’.

History was made that day
Proclaimed on papers’ pages:
“Danks Rides Champ to A Standstill!”
“A Ride for All the Ages!”

Their ride became the symbol
Of the spirit of the state.
Great “Bucking Horse and Rider”
Etched on every license plate.

The essence of a people,
A horse and cowboy’s glory!
The symbol of Wyoming,

And now you know their story.

© 2012, Gary Penney
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without permission.

Gary told us, "Curiosity inspired this poem. I got to wondering if the horse on the Wyoming license plate had a name. Sure 'nuff he did! After spending hours of historical research I was enlightened and inspired to write this poem. In a time when the horse was the backbone of this country, Steamboat was an all star athlete with a special talent. Steamboat (1894-1914) is to Wyoming what the Lone Star is to Texas."


Coyote Control

We raised livestock in Wyoming,
On majestic rolling plains.
But even grandeur has its dark side,
And our ranching had its pains.

The coyotes were our problem.
They’d brought us all to tears.
We’d shot ‘em and we’d killed ‘em,
Like our dads had done for years.

Yet no matter how we did it,
Now they had the upper hand.
With their stealth and with their cunning,
They ruled this open land.

No herd was safe from slaughter,
From the sheep to cow or calf.
The coyote packs were running wild,
You could almost hear them laugh.

So we banded all together,
And in one unified lament,
We called upon the Federal Boys
Of our U.S. Government.

We knew they’d solve our quandary
With their experts in this field,
Because they had the ways and means,
That could make the coyotes yield.

So, it wasn’t long thereafter
A Federal agent came to call.
Escorted by two ladies
Who were pale and slim and tall.

Our meeting was quite enormous.
Ranchers came from near and far.
They came by truck and tractor,
Helicopter, horse, and car.

The agent spoke very slowly,
I guess he thought we couldn’t hear.
“We’ve analyzed your problem,
And we think we’ve solved your fear.”

“While you must protect your livestock,
We’ve pursued a compromise,
Which would protect the coyote,
And spare him a quick demise.”

“These ladies will inform you,
How your problems can be solved.
Animals are their forte’,
And they’ll tell how this evolved.”

“Ms. Funfur is from PETA,
They fight for animal rights.
Ms. Prude is from the Timber Club.
The environment fuels their fights.”

Well, you could have heard a pin drop
As these ladies began to speak.
Though frail and pale and slender,
They were neither mild nor meek.

“We have a new solution,
Because your killing is profane.
The solution we’re proposing
Is more friendly and humane.”

“These coyotes are God’s creation,
They have souls like you and me.
You’ve no right to take their lives.
They were destined to be free.”

“To control prolific numbers
Use live traps on the range.
The males can then be neutered,
While you check them for the mange.”

“Turn them loose and let them go
To live lives like you and me.
Your livestock will be safe again
And the coyotes will be free.”

The crowd sat there in silence
Too stunned to make a sound,
Chewing on this novel thought
Before they came finally came around.

The silence soon was broken
By a rancher in the back.
He was old and stooped and weathered,
But he cut these girls no slack.

Speaking as he tipped his hat,
With a cunning rancher smile,
“I think you missed our point today.
You missed by a country mile.”

“We ain’t worried ‘bout a coyote
Havin’ sex with cows or sheep.
It’s their eatin’ ‘em for dinner
That keeps us from gettin’ sleep!”

The laughter was spontaneous
As the crowd let out a roar.
We never saw them folks again
Once they hustled out that door!

So if you’ve got a problem,
And your ideas are all spent.
You’d better have one more thought
‘Fore you call the government!

© 2012, Gary Penney
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without permission.

Gary told us, "
This is a lighthearted poem about some ranchers asking the government for help in controlling a coyote epidemic in their area.  As is sometimes the situation the government seems to have different perceptions in dealing with situations than we might think they should.  In the case of this poem it takes some common sense from an old and cunning rancher to properly bring the government solution back into the correct focus."


The Rancher's Wife

I've been a cattle rancher
For pert near all my life.
And I've got a dang good partner
Who doubles as my wife.

She don’t mind the cow poo,
Or the blood and guts and such.
There ain’t nothin’ she won’t try,
Even calf fries for our lunch.

She helps with block and tackle
When a cow is facing death.
She’ll give that calf a taste of air
With a blow of her own breath.

Green blowflies don’t affect her,
Nor does burnin’ hide and hair.
And when it comes to cuttin' calves
She wants to be right there.

This IS a workin’ woman,
And it shows through in her deeds.
But every woman is a lady,
And she has a lady’s needs.

She longs to wear some perfume
With some lipstick soft and light.
A little shadow on her eyelids
Would make everything all right.

But then I get to thinkin’
That that ain’t all she cravin’.
She might like new equipment
From the money we’ve been savin’. 

So I go and buy a saddle
Trimmed in silver bright and pure.
That rawhide lasso sure looks good.
She’ll just love it, that’s for sure!

Next I pick a cowboy hat
And some earrings for her ears.
Throw in that matching bracelet
And she’ll look good for years!

“I’ll take that brown serape’,
And those chaps with girly frills.
That will be her dress up pair,
They won’t ever see no spills.

“Oh, I’ll take that gun and holster
‘Cause she loves to ride and shoot.
Finish with that pair of gloves.
Well. . .that’s all my spending loot.” 

Walking in the ranch house door
I see tears have filled her eyes.
Her insides are about to burst.
She loves my grand surprise!

“Get cleaned up and come outside.
I want to see you in the light.”
She almost takes my breath away
When she walks into my sight!

“Honey, I would never trade you,
And I wouldn’t if I could.
There’s somethin’ I gotta tell you,
Darlin' . . .You sure clean up good!

© 2013, Gary Penney
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without permission.

Gary told us, "Inspiration for this poem came from a painting by Arizona artist Marless Fellows. The painting shows a female surrounded by newly purchased items mentioned in this poem. It reminded me that regardless of how hard a woman works at ranchin', she still wants to be appreciated and to have the chance of being a lady from time to time."

Beneath the Midnight Dome

Old Buck's been groomed and tethered
Not too far from where I lay.
I’ve had my cup of coffee.
Now it’s time to end my day.

I gaze into a darkness
With a thousand, million lights,
So thankful I’m a cowboy
And I get to see such sights.

I close my eyes beneath my hat
And think sweet thoughts of home.
Then the prairie chorus starts …,
Beneath the midnight dome.

I hear the pop and crackle
From my campfire soft and light.
The smell of prairie flowers
Seems to penetrate the night.

Trickle from a flowing stream
Really puts my soul at ease.
A hoot owl softly calls its mate
From a distant grove of trees.

Crickets chirp their sounds of joy
With the “rib-its” of the frogs.
Beavers chew their sticks of wood
As they gather up their logs.

Mice are playing in the straw
As they scurry, squeak and run.
They rush to gather foodstuff
Before the dawning of the sun.

A coyote sings his lonesome song
As he bays up at the moon.
A nighthawk drifts above me
And I hear its mournful swoon.

The wind is softly blowing
Causing noises in the pine.
A creak, a pop and whisper;
This concert is all mine.

But then the night is shattered
By a loud and piercing scream.
A cottontail has met its end
By a predator, unseen.

A silence haunts the prairie
When the gruesome scream is gone.
But then it’s back to business
As the chorus carries on.

Each player has a duty
Regardless of their plight.
Their sounds become the chorus
Of the prairie sounds of night.

It must be close to midnight
As I’m drifting into sleep.
Dreamy thoughts now fill my head
Just before I go real deep.

Yet I, too, have a part to play
Since this prairie is my home.
My snoring joins this chorus ...,

Beneath the midnight dome.

© 2013, Gary Penney
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without permission.


Gary comments: A recent overnight outing with friends was the inspiration for this poem. We were able to get totally away from the lights and sounds of a nearby city. As our own lights went down, and the campfire faded, the fields and woods took on a life of their own within the darkness. By tuning in I was able to hear many of the sounds described within this poem. Many joys of life are taken for granted or totally missed unless you look for them. I'm so glad I was "tuned in" on this night, even with the snoring provided by one of my friends.


Muley Cow

The boss called Red and Curley

Said, “I’ve got a job for you.

Go bring in that muley cow

That’s been gone a day or two.


I’d ‘spect that she’s had her calf

And is hold up in some brush.

Try hard not to push this cow

And PLEASE… don’t be in no rush.


This old cow is known to fight

And has caused a wreck or two.

I don’t want you crippled up

So be careful what you do.”


Curley grinned and laughed out loud

Said, “We’ll bring her at a lope.

You know you can count on us…...

We won’t even need a rope!”


‘Twas early th’ next mornin’

When they started on their way.

They’d find this ol’ muley cow

And return her by midday.


The hours passed slowly by

‘Till Curley spied some movement.

Based on what they’d seen so far

This was a big improvement.


“She’d holed up in this thicket

With her calf there by her side.

We’ll coax her out with this prod

Till she finds her loping stride.”


They crawled down off their horses

And began their stalk with stealth.

They’d thrown caution to the wind

Which would soon affect their health.


Red crawled into the thicket

And the little calf was caught.

Curley zapped that muley cow

And an anger then was wrought.


The prairie just exploded

With cactus, thorns and branches!

Rocks and limbs were blown so high

They fell on other ranches!


Her wrath was like a cyclone

As she snorted, kicked and spun.

Red and Curley beat a path

For they knew their day was done!


They limped into the bunkhouse

With their clothing torn to shreds.

Bodies bruised from head to toe.

They were yearning for their beds.


The Boss soon came to find ‘em;

Asked ‘em what had gone all wrong.

“I told you not to push the cow!

Now sing your sorry song!”


“You might think we’re full o’ bull,

So please don’t scoff or laugh.

It wasn’t her that done this ...,


‘Twas her muley heifer calf!!!”

© 2013, Gary Penney
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without permission.


Gary comments: I guess you could say "genetics" (both good and bad) were the inspiration for this poem. Red and Curley learned a hard lesson by not listening to the Boss' advice, but the lesson comes from an unlikely source. Cattlemen often breed their stock to bring out the best traits of the animals. In this case the genetics of this cow were passed to the next generation and became evident at an early age.



    About Gary Penney
Provided 2012

I hail from the small town of Lorena, Texas. Though I grew up in a small town, working on grandparents' farms on the weekends helped me to understand both hard work and respect for land and animals. I loved the time on the farm so much that I earned a B.S. degree in Agriculture from Sam Houston State University in 1971. I am married to my lovely wife Donna and we have two very fine sons. After college I spent my time working as a scientific technician in the poultry and candy industries.

Cowboy poetry writing and reciting is something that has only come to me within the last few years. It happened quite by accident when I was requested to write a poem for a cowboy friend of mine. The seed was sown! Since that first effort I have written around 20 poems with three being published nationally. I've also learned to play the harmonica.

I have committed numerous poems to memory and I thoroughly enjoy reciting and performing the old traditional poems along with those I have written. I currently perform at retirement centers, nursing home and churches as well as private functions in the Central Texas area. I have been a featured poet at the Western Heritage Expo in Waco, Texas and have been an invited performer at the National Cowboy Symposium in Lubbock, Texas. Future plans include attending the Durango Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Durango, Colorado.



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