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

Berthoud, Colorado
About H. J. "Hoss" Peterson

Featured in "The Big Roundup," an anthology of the best of




Why Do You Do It?

You fry or you freeze, your freedom's a tease
you're tied to ride for the brand.
In the saddle day and night, you fight the good fight
the steward of another man's land.

But it's not so sad, it really ain't half bad
'cause yer doin' just what you want
It's those folks in the city that deserve all the pity
the walking dead with faces so gaunt.

Out here, your cattle get fat, there's dust on yer hat
and your boots are covered in mud
A man knows he's alive, and his soul will thrive
once this way of livin' gets in his blood.

Why do I do it you ask? this long, endless task -
Well, I'll tell you if you don't mind to hear...
I do it for me - like a sailor at sea
my life is wide open and clear.

No questions asked, no answers untracked
I live with the sun on my neck
I'm a man of my own, the prairie my home...
now, if you'll excuse me, I've got fences to check.

H.J. "Hoss" Peterson
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Freedom in the Flame

I've been in the saddle since dawn
riding across this sea of sage,
Now my eyelids are growing heavy
and my bones are feelin' their age.

My horse is weary and slow
it's time for us to rest
I stop in a small, secluded draw
as the last light fades into the West.

I unsaddle my mare and set her free
turn her out to drink and graze
to let her rest up for another day
of riding fence and gathering strays

I busy myself gathering sticks and twigs
to build a small, warming fire
and I allow my mind to wander with the wind
whistling through the wire.

I think about my day
and what all I've achieved
and just what it all means to me
and what all I believe.

Questions flood my thoughts
with answers nowhere in sight,
as I touch the match to the pile of sticks
that will protect me from the night

I watch the small flicker grow
as the spark becomes a flame
and that flame becomes a fire
small, but still untamed

And that fire - it awakes my mind
it brings thoughts and images of me
of how I feel about my life
fenced in, but still so free

I see my life played out in flame
by the small fire here before me,
so natural and so peaceful
yet intense and wildly stormy.

And as the fire dies down
the licking flame reduced to ember,
I close my eyes and begin to think
to recall, relive, remember.

I realize my life has meaning
it has purpose, direction and worth
and I am happy with what I've found -
God's place for me on Earth.

I know my purpose and reason
I see freedom in the flame
I am the Guardian of the Spirit -
and Cowboy is my name.

H.J. "Hoss" Peterson
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

A Prayer for Man and Horse

Now I lay me down to sleep
in this bedroll on the ground,
and I pray the Lord my soul to keep
if tomorrow I ain't around.

But Lord, if it's my time to join you
in the great by-and-by
well, sir, can we bring my horse
for your remuda in the sky?

I've had him since a child
and he was just a colt,
and I long to ride him through the skies
and chase a lightnin' bolt.

We'll work hard, Lord
ride your fences all day long,
and I promise not to rope no angels,
I'll try hard to do no wrong.

It's just that me and Ol' Roan are pardners
and we will be 'til the end,
So please Lord, don't take me
unless you take my friend.

But, if You should choose
in all Your wisdom and sage
to take one before the other
for bad health or old age

Well, keep us busy
'til the other's time has come
so we won't miss too much
the other one

And we'll wait for our reunion
and go ridin' through the skies
chasin' them longhorn cattle
with Your brand upon their sides.

Well, thank you Lord for listenin'
to this simple cowboy's prayer,
and I'll talk to You tomorrow
though I know not from where

But I'll lift my heart to Heaven
and pray to You of course,
as I do 'most every night -
a Prayer For Man And Horse.

Amen and Goodnight.

H.J. "Hoss" Peterson
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



The Horse Psychic

At our last family function
An eccentric aunt I met
Who informed me, that much like myself
She was a member of the equine set.

She said that she raised Arabs
For breeding and for show
Then she told me just how she did it
Her methods for giddyap and whoa.

She did things a little…differently
And that was plain to see
Her horses were pampered and coddled
Indoor stalls and custom feed

She called them “Baby” and “Cookieface
Never “Knothead” or “Nag”
Her horses were her babies
Her kids belonged to their Dad.

It sure wasn’t the way I did things
And I wasn’t sure I liked it
But I damn near spit out my teeth
When she said, “And I talk to them through a Psychic!”

“A Psychic?!” I said
“Well, what does he say?”
“Oh, he tells me what they want,
like green grass or fresh hay  

"He tells me what they’re thinking
About all their hopes and dreams
About what they want in life, 
And what every action means.

"And when he talks about my pony,
My horse turns to the West and smiles
cause my Psychic’s in California
where Horse Psychics are in style”

I tried to imagine just how he did it
But my brain it up and froze…
Then all of a sudden I realized
This could be the answer to my woes

I mean, I’m sure I know more about horses
Than some tanned California sop
Why, I’ll just put the word out that I’m for hire
I’ll charge two hundred bucks a pop.

The folks ‘round here would line up
They’d come for miles and miles
To watch me talk to horses
Ones of all temperaments and styles.

And they’d all be just amazed 
At my “Dr. Doolittle-ish” technique
The money’d come rollin’ in
Day by day and week by week.

But you know, on second thought
Oh, it probably wouldn’t work
They’d just look at me like I was plumb crazy
A geek, a fool, a jerk.

They have me committed to a padded room
With a nice white coat and pants
And they’d put me in a special wing
One for Horse Psychics and Eccentric Aunts.

2002, H.J. "Hoss" Peterson
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Summer Horses

Where are the summer horses, from all those years ago
When we were young and foolish and thought that time was slow

Where are the summer horses, who rode through young men’s dreams
Who carried us to legend, as if we each had wings

Where are the summer horses, we knew them all by name
They knew ours as well, for it was we who had been tamed

Where are the summer horses, will they never more return
To these distant, long-dry meadows where the fires of youth once burned

Has the herd moved on to Glory, driven from our lands
By the weights and measures of another master’s hands

We’ll spend our days left looking in unquenched desire to
Relive the days of summer horses when freedom was still new

In the dusky twilight, as our memories start to fade
Dim recollections of yesteryear—the debt called due is paid

We cast our eyes toward ancient fields, where youth made its last stand
In hopes of catching one more glimpse of that old familiar brand…

Summer horses are still waiting—right where they’ve always been
Standing. Saddled. Ready. Just inside the pen.

Turn out of the yard and shut the gate, sun warming necks so pale
We ride once more, my long lost friend—summer horses on the trail

2009, H.J. "Hoss" Peterson
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Hoss comments: This is the first cowboy poem I have written in quite some time. I had just recently found some of my old cowboy friends on Facebook (kind of funny how we've all become computer literate these days—I guess even cowboys have to fall in line with the rest of the world eventually) and we had spent some time talking about the "Glory Days" when we were all young and riding for a living. Some great memories indeed.

That night, I was laying in bed thinking about how much I missed it all, and the phrase "summer horses" came to mind. I couldn't get rid of it, so I thought I'd get up and write it down so I wouldn't forget it. Well, one line turned into two, then three, and the next thing you know it was 30 minutes later, and this poem had been born.

Thanks again to my old runnin' buddies for the inspiration and encouragement to get this out. I miss the days of Summer Horses, and look forward to riding together again soon.



About H. J. "Hoss" Peterson

I did my raisin' up in and around Laramie, Wyoming and now live down in Berthoud, Colorado.

I have been involved in one way or another with cowboy poetry since 1992, when I heard Shad Pease read a poem at his sister's wedding shower.   Shad's sister married my best pard, and Shad became my adopted "brother-in-law." We worked together in Jackson Hole, and have been friends since.

I, myself, began writing in '94 and have completed one book (self-published) entitled, Real Cowboys Don't Line Dance (contact Hoss at; $24 postpaid). I have read at several gatherings, including the Colorado State Cowboy Poets Gathering in 1999, and I read with Shad at a gathering at the Wyoming Territorial Park in 1999. I was the featured poet at the Bar Lazy J guest ranch in Parshall, Colorado during the summer of 1998, and sold numerous copies of my books to people from around the world.



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