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San Luis Obispo County, California
About Lisa King



Old Hank

Hank was an old cow pony, no one knew his real age.

Bought for a teenaged girl, that outgrew riding dirt and sage.


He was slow on the up hill, but sound on any flat course,

They kept him on the ranch and he became a loan out horse.


On Hank, you could depend for a sure-footed safe, sound, ride.

Hank also had some fun in him the likes he could not hide.


I’m told one day he opened his gate, not to walk about,

He opened all the other gates and let the horses out.


The rancher’s wife was watching this while it became a fray,

Old Hank went right back to his stall and finished up his hay.


It was during the summertime that I borrowed old Hank,

To gather the King Ranch lease, out by the big water tank.


The canyons, rocky and narrow, the hills, brushy and steep.

Hank proved to be the horse any ranch would want to keep.


Sunset closing in on us, pressed for light, we had to rush.

We came to a steep draw that looked like nothing more than brush.


A rider pitched a rock in there, you could hear them scramble;

Cows just seem to disappear in quaking brush and bramble.


Undaunted, courage in our hearts, as dark clouds blew over,

Fatal, is what this place could be, for a horse and drover.


Hank headed in, if a cow could get out there, so could we.

Once out there, fear fills the air for a trail, I could not see.


Through the brush I could see a ledge, barely three inches wide.

Surely this can’t hold a horse, I knew we were doomed to slide.


Starting to pray, I gave Hank his head, he knew what to do.

He sent those cows over the ridge, up to the hands they flew.


Other traps awaited us, a branch, waist high, hard and dead.

Brush blocking the ledge, we were stuck, no other way to head.


Not sure then what to do, Hank shot upward all a ruckus,

I clung to his mane as he spun, ledge crumbling beneath us,

Belly down sliding, Hank scrambled to regain his footing,

Detritus earth, composed the trail where we began routing.


Back where we started, safe and sound, my nerves settled like sand.

Praise God for the horse, smart enough, to pluck us from death’s hand.


Young working horses, hard to come by, are not often sold.

A horse with a heart, brave and bold, is worth his weight in gold. 

© 2008, Lisa King
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Lisa told us,  "In the first decade of the new millennium I moved to the northern part of San Luis Obispo County, California. There, I joined a ladies jam group, where I met and became friends with a very talented cowboy poet, Virginia Bennett.  One evening after a jam session, I shared with her a short poem I had written to family members (meant to lighten their spirits) after the recent loss of their dog.  I wanted to see her reaction.  As she laughed gaily, she told me that I should write more and share my experiences in the form of poetry. Thus I was inspired to write the poem “Old Hank” and share one of my most unforgettable experiences working cattle."


Real Cowboys Don’t Wear Cotton!

Do you have a cotton bandanna, upon your hook?
Just a small piece of fabric for under my book,
I asked the vendor with western clothing in her nook,
Her reply left me speechless, she gave me a strange look. 

“Real cowboys don’t wear cotton!” That’s what she said,
Stopped in my tracks, her exclamation spun in my head,
The range that I rode, the west that I knew must be dead,
To her modern day cowboy silk expectation, I dread.

What range did she ride on or off of, a silver screen?
Get your make-up retouched after each take or scene,
Maybe a show ring in good clothes, neat and clean,
Not the places I rode where cattle sometimes were mean.

Thru buckwheat and horehound, went our cattle search team,
In hundred degree heat, sweat trickles a sunny gleam,
From the warm canteen water, heat’s relief it would seem,
Came best from a cotton bandanna dipped in a stream.

The early cowboys I’ve read of, at best they were poor,
Cotton duck pants, plaid or plain cotton weave shirts they wore,
Working cowboys in silk bandannas? Folly and lore!
Silk, compared to cotton’s price would cost ten times or more.

I thought back to books I’ve read, this silk theory to test,
No silk bandanna was worn on Concho Curly’s chest,
Could be it was worn by the lobster wrangler at best,
Maybe at the saloon, tucked into some gambler's vest.

It could be worn to a Sunday church service by chance,
A gift given by a pretty girl after a dance,
Could’ve been worn for a photograph taken in stance,
Or a service for a friends passing, in remembrance.

It’s said you can’t make a silk purse from a sow’s ear!
I doubt that a silk neck scarf followed any cow's rear,
But wait! I thought of other climates, both far and near,
Where the frigid cold weather on a cowboy would sear.

I wrote to some good friends, that I hold very dear,
They laughed at my poem (so far) and told me sincere,
They both donned a silk neck scarf in that cold time of year,
Wrapped around the neck twice, tied, snug up under the ear.

I’ll give the vendor a “half right,” I must interject,
That some “Real Cowboys” did wear silk neck scarves, I expect,
“Real Cowboys” also wore cotton, let us not neglect,
The warm climate cowboys to whom she gave no respect.

What makes a cowboy? Not cotton or silk, heat or cold,
It’s to mount your horse and take on the challenge of old,
To gather the herd homeward, both the scrawny and bold,
To the stockyard where the auctioneer’s gavel lands, SOLD! 

© 2008, Lisa King
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


  About Lisa King:


I call myself The “Suburban” Cowgirl! I was raised in a Los Angeles city, suburban home at the north end of the San Fernando Valley. I have loved horses since as far back as I can remember. I rode astride a sofa cushion with Roy and Gene as they rode their beautiful horses, on Saturday morning TV shows and wished for the day I’d be big enough to have a horse of my own.

It was at the age of eight, that our neighbor, Judy, taught me to ride her horse. At the age of ten, my parents bought me my first pony.

In the late 1970s I went to work for Pacific Telephone & Telegraph Company, as one of the early female telephone installers. In my twenties, and owning a horse of my own, I joined the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Reserves—Search & Rescue Team and the Sheriff’s Posse. It was through contacts there that I started working holiday weekend gathers at the Dale B. King Ranch in Piru, California. This is also how I met my husband. I like to say, “I went to a round up and roped a cowboy!” This was the beginning of my ranch life with my husband, James King, and his family whose ranching experience spans over 100 years in the Piru Canyon area of Ventura County, California.


Lisa King's Cowboy Poetry



The Colors of The Rainbow
Old Hank
Let's Move to the Country
On the trail Of Pi'idhuku
Rancher's Recycling
Jake, the Prospector
The Slow Sullen Cow
Ode to The Passing of Buckley

Sixteen pages of poetry and illustrations.

Available for $7.00 postpaid in the US from:



The Changing of the Guard



The Changing of The Guard
The Dime Store Cowboy
Cemetery History
Dan, The Round-Up Cut-Up
Buckshot & The Gopher Bait
I Wanted To Be A Horse


Sixteen pages of poetry and illustrations.

Available for $7.00 postpaid in the US from:



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