GAY LaRAINE STOCKDALE
About Gay LaRaine Stockdale
Gay LaRaine Stockdale and Ol' Blackie
Forty Dollars And A Fifth Of Whiskey
He was born to a wild bunch down in the canyon along the breaks of Joseph Creek.
But he had the look of pedigreed blood and he moved like a cat...smooth and quick.
He had plenty of bone and lean hard muscle, he was sure 'nuff put up right.
His coat was sleek and soft as silk and the color of a blue-black night.
Now forty dollars and a fifth of whiskey was the price Dad dickered and paid...
And he said many times through the years to come, it was the best damn buy ever made!
He was comin' three when he brought him home, a young wild stud on the fight.
Dad sharpened his knife and gelded him quick to help set his attitude right.
But he was a tough one, that hard-twisted bronc, determined to have his own way.
He could pitch a fit like you've never seen and keep it up all day!
He'd snort and blow and light into buckin' and Lordy, that horse could squall!
But Dad never weakened for he was tough, too, and he had Blackie goin' by fall.
Now my Dad, Gayle Stockdale, has rare skill, he's a horseman of the very best kind.
He seems to possess a kind of sixth sense that connects with a horse's mind.
His gentle hands have a soft, quiet touch and his legs are firm and strong.
His voice gives confidence to a colt as he teaches him right from wrong.
And Dad convinced Blackie there was no need to fight, leavin' his spirit intact
So that horse put his fire into being the best at whatever job he attacked!
He'd pack out an elk, hold a cow to be doctored, or pickup a buckin' horse.
In the arena or out on the ranch it was all just a matter of course.
Ol' Blackie and Dad were a sight to behold for they moved together as one,
Like graceful partners in a rhythmic dance the way a waltz is done.
In reining or cutting or roping calves, they'd beat out the competition
Then Dad would remove Blackie's bridle and run a "no hands" exhibition!
It was Blackie that taught my sister and me when we started riding in shows.
We ran barrels and poles, cut cows and roped in Northwest junior rodeos.
Well, the buckles, trophies and ribbons he won number far too many to count,
And those who rode him called him the best they'd ever had fortune to mount.
He gave us his all to a ripe old age when he won his last reining at twenty-five.
Then we turned him to pasture and let him enjoy a well earned retired life.
But even the great ones some day wear out as the years finally take their toll.
He was twenty-seven when he laid down and slept in the shade of a pine on a knoll.
Blackie never woke from his nap that day...his wild horse spirit broke free.
And surely he runs through the canyons of Heaven, that's where he deserves to be.
Yes, forty dollars and a fifth of whiskey...what a mighty small price was paid
For a wild black horse that will long be remembered as the best damn buy ever made!
© 1996, Gay LaRaine Stockdale
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.
Gay told us: I wrote this poem as a birthday gift to my father, Gayle Stockdale, who was a highly respected horse trainer and riding instructor here in the Northwest. It is the true story of Dad & Ol' Blackie. Dad was a contemporary of Tom Dorrance and the two men often worked together on various horse projects when both of them lived in Enterprise, Oregon during the fifties. Tom rode Ol' Blackie on several occasions at brandings & ropings there, and I remember him telling Dad that Blackie was one of the finest bridle horses he'd ever had the pleasure to ride.
Dad passed on just a few days after his 83rd birthday. He had an illustrious horse training career that spanned 60+ years and thousands of horses, but he always said that Ol' Blackie was the one who taught him about "finesse" & how to "think like a horse." I'll always be grateful for my great good fortune to have grown up with a horse like Blackie to learn on...and a father like Gayle Stockdale to learn from.
Gayle Stockdale at a clinic in St. Mary's, Idaho, 1972
Gayle Stockdale working a mare he was training,
still plying his skills at age 82.
About Gay LaRaine Stockdale:
I'm a 55 year old grandmother, recently divorced and now pursuing a full-time career as an artist, writer and photographer. Ranch raised in the beautiful Wallowa Valley in NE Oregon, I literally grew up on horseback. In my younger years I competed extensively, both rodeoing and showing. I also assisted my parents in the family training business, riding colts, giving lessons, and demonstrating at horsemanship clinics across the great
I graduated from high school in '66 and attended Central WA State University in Ellensburg, WA. majoring in commercial art, with a minor in journalism. My art career was secondary for many years after I married and started a family. My husband roped calves and steer wrestled in the PRCA and we raised our daughter and son with horses and rodeo, too. Both made it to the NHSRA National Finals every year of their high school rodeo careers.
I publish a small newspaper that covers regional rodeo here in the Northwest, called The NW Pro Rodeo Roundup. In addition, I have a digital photography setup with which I photograph equine events, and do portrait work for the horse/livestock industry. My work as an artist/illustrator usually focuses on horses or our western heritage, with pen & inks, or watercolor my favorite mediums. I work out of my home studio in Rochester, WA.
Writing poetry is my own personal form of relaxation and therapy. I enjoy telling stories about my experiences and the "cowboy" traditions I was raised with through the poetry I write. I'm currently working on a short novella in verse form that tells the life of an old time cowboy....the main character being a composite of many of the old timers I've been so fortunate to have known. I plan to illustrate it myself when completed and hope to see it published some day.
The photo at the top of the page is
Gay LaRaine Stockdale on Ol' Blackie in 1959,
when she was 11 and Blackie was 15
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