Featured at the Bar-D Ranch

photo by Yvonne Hollenbeck



It is with great sadness that we report that top cowboy poet Pat Richardson. He is mourned by countless friends and fans.

Pat's life was a testament to the human spirit. He raised himself from a hardscrabble and difficult life, overcame the challenge of polio, and led an early, colorful cowboying and rodeo life. He was an artist and cartoonist. His deadpan humor, which often pushed the boundaries of political correctness, delighted a legion of fans.

Pat was fiercely loyal to his friends and family and was a quietly devout and generous man. His passing, and the recent losses of his friends Glenn Ohrlin and Walt LaRue, mark the end of an era. Their stories will live on.

An obituary tells, "...Pat was well-known as fair in business, a hard worker and quick and creative thinker, and above all as an honest man. Pat's true gift was his artistic ability, mainly cowboy poetry; his ability to interject his own experience, wit and wisdom into his art left him in a class all his own....Services will be held at noon on Thursday, April 14th at the United Methodist Church of Merced..."

He will be greatly missed.

© 2015, Jessica Lifland, used with permission; jessicalifland.com
Pat Richardson, third from left, regales DW Groethe, Rodney Nelson, and Baxter Black


© 2015, Sweet Light Photography, used with permission; sweetlightphotography.com
Pat Richardson, second from left, laughs in response to Rodney Nelson. Also pictured, Janice Gilbertson, Jess Howard, and Bob Petermann


Academy of Western Artists' (AWA)
Best Male Poet

About Pat Richardson
Book and Recordings
Pen and Ink Drawings
Pat Richardson's web site


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About Pat Richardson:

Baxter Black once said about Pat's poetry, "If you boiled cowboy poetry down to what's worth savin', this is what the stew would smell like."

Pat was born and raised with livestock, he's rode colts, rodeo'd and cartooned for The Pro Rodeo Sports News, besides working on ranches in several different states.  He said "It's not that I couldn't hold a job, it's just that some bosses made me nervous."

Pat and his brother Jess Howard (1970 N. R. C. A. Saddle Bronc Champion) have been invited to Elko many times. Jess says, "It's like a family reunion where you're paid to go. To which Pat adds, "Otherwise, nobody would show up!"

Photo by Jess Howard
Pat Richardson, age 21 in Wichita where he rode polo colts
 for Polo Hall of Fame honoree Willis L. Hartman

Provided, 2011:

Iíve written so many biographies about myself, Iím unsure how much of itís true, they say a lie told often enough is hard to tell from the truth. But being a man of few words, and even fewer interesting stories Iíll stick as close to the truth as I can without embarrassing myself:

Born and raised on ranches where my dad worked, I spent the majority of my time training stick horses for the kids who had never handled a ďgreenĒ stick horse beforeówait, that might be something from someone elseís bio.

If Iída known Iíd have to write it down later, I would have tried to live a more interesting childhood. I was just another kid raised on a ranch, doing chores and wishing Iíd been born rich. I left home at the age of fourteen at the urging of my parents and spent the next sixty-some-odd years trying to find my niche in life.

I rode colts, milked cows, hauled hay, rodeoíd, and spent my spare time trying to draw like Will James (but never made it) and dabbled some in writing poetry. I eventually got a little place of my own and managed to eke out a meager living, always fighting the urge to ship a few ďneighbor calvesĒ to the sale. Iím fairly respected by my neighbors; thatís not saying much, because when you live in California almost everything is legal.

In 1999 I won the international poetry contest held in Cedar City, Utah out of seventy eight poets from Australia, Canada and the United States; in 2003 I was voted Poet of the Year by the Academy of Western Artists; have appeared at Lincoln Center, New York and have performed from San Francisco to Bangor, Maine. I went to Bangor with Glenn Ohrlin and they stared at Glenn and I like we were some endangered species, but we were suave and handled it pretty good.

I have a book of poetry, four CDs and a DVD of cowboy poetry and am working on my life story, keeping it as true as possible. Iíve about run out of true stuff so to keep from offending everyone Iíll call this finished.

What the Critics say:

"I had the pleasure of doing a show with Pat in Elko, Nevada and he completely wrecked the crowd!  All I can say is I hope I never have to follow him again."
R. W. Hampton, Academy of Western Artists' Entertainer of the Year

"His poems are finely crafted...He never lets the truth ruin a good story."
Michael Mattis, Prism Magazine, SF State Univ. Dept. of Journalism

"Spins each tale with deceptive ease..."
Rose Certini, Merced Sun Star

"Haven't laughed this hard in years."
Steve Arnold, Pres. S. A. F. E. video prod., Tyler, Texas

"Entertaining!  Original! and Funny, Funny, Funny!!!
Nicholas Vrooman, Nevada State Council of the Arts

"He's in a class by himself"
Bob Kelly, Owner, Flying H Ranch, Newman, California

"Pat's poems are always a treasure trove of cleverness gone awry."
Baxter Black

Pat and Baxter
Photo by Jane Richardson
Pat says "my wife Jane took the picture at Santa Clarita several years ago - Baxter
said,  'He never smiles, lemme loosen his cheeks up a little' (and it worked)."

Pat Richardson at Roseburg, Oregon
Drawing by Pat Richardson


Pat Richardson at Yerrington, Nevada
Drawing by Pat Richardson


Pat Richardson's son Terry at Hayward, California
Drawing by Pat Richardson


Shep's Poetry
Roundup in the Spring
Second Thoughts
Cowboy Banker
I Never
The Auction
Ed's Cow Dog
Stop Me
 Benny's Cabin
The Cow Boss
The Evaluation
A COWBOY (through a heifer's eyes)

Morning Mist

How to Make a Cowboy

Billy Baker
Jackie & Johnny
The Confession
Cowboy Poets
Eye of the Beholder

Ed's Funeral (separate page)
Ed in Elko (separate page)


Wallace Brooks at Palm Springs
Drawing by Pat Richardson


Shep's Poetry

Ben sat at his kitchen table - an' his mind had drawn a blank
his creative juices wouldn't seem t' flow
" I need some new material." he muttered t' his dog
" Fer th' annual, upcomin', Horsemans show."

" So do somethin' funny." Ben snarled at his dog
an' was rewarded with a cold an' icy stare
That got Shep t' thinkin' - "Man if I could only write
I'd do a classic on his constant loss a hair."

"Always cussin' me fer sheddin', an' in truth I sometimes do
but he ain't got a whole lot left t' shed
'Cause 'ceptin' fer them eyebrows, an' th' hair that's in his ears
hair is gettin' scarce on that ol' head."

"He's got some vulgar habits, he performs from time t' time
that'd really make some poetry." Shep smiled
" A constant inspiration, Man! I could write some stuff
that'd have th' folks just rollin' in th' aisles."

Ol' Shep eyed up Bens' computer, an' thot," By God I can!"
an' he snickered as his mind began t' race
" It'd take a little practice, but what's time t' a dog?
I sure could have some fun around this place."

When Benny left next mornin', ol' Shep went right t' work
Shucks! He'd watched Ben, a thousand times
By ten o'clock he'd mastered, everything he had t' know
then he really settled down, an' wrote some rhymes

He didn't pull no punches, he was precise an' t' th' point
an' some of it wasn't all that kind
Skeletons in Bens' closets, got drug out in th' light
Shep thot," Long as they're funny, Ben won't mind."

When Ben got home that evenin', he was in fer quite a shock
why there was poems piled everywhere
" I wonder where these come from?" Shep hid a sneaky grin
as Ben grabbed 'em up, an' settled in his chair

Ol' Bens' heart begin t' hammer, as his secrets were revealed
an' sez," Whoever wrote these sure can't spell
But th' bugger must be psychic, how else would he know?"
This really had Ben puzzled, sure as hell

"I'm gonna kill whoever wrote these!" Ben screamed almost in tears
" Why if this gets out, I can't show my face.
It can't be my neighbors, 'cause they don't know this stuff,
it must be comin' from some other place."

Ol' Shep begins t' easin', over towards th' door, an' once outside,
he played th' runnin' game
" If it wasn't fer my ego," Shep thot," I'd be safe - but damnit!
I went an' signed my name."

He ran down thro th' canyons, under cover of th' brush
an' thot," He'd be even madder yet,
if he knew th' full extent, of th' damage that I done,
'cause I sent it out across th' internet!"

© 6/19/00, Pat Richardson
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written

Roundup in the Spring

Ropes uncoil in the darkness, whistle true an' find their mark
Saddle up an' snug yer hat down, make a bronc ride in the dark
Ponies snortin' in the darkness hear the spur rowels as they ring
Horse an' rider work the kinks out, boys it's roundup time, it's spring

Miles away from camp by sunup dew hangs silver on the grass
A lone mule deer at a distance stops an' freezes 'till yer passed
Make a circle change yer mount, catch a fresh horse from yer sting
Days an' nights all blend together, boys it's roundup time, it's spring

In the evening' after supper Bill starts singin' way off key
But y' know for some strange reason, it sounds pretty good to me
In the bunkhouse he gets hushed every time he tries to sing
But he's getting' songs requested durin' roundup in the spring

Longtime foes begin' to visit, swappin' stories, lie, an' brag
An' the best hand in the crew takes his turn at ridin' drag
Every year I'm amazed, longtime grudges take to wing
An' the cowboys work together, boys it's roundup time, it's spring

© 1998, Pat Richardson
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 (Curly Musgrave's song written with Pat's words is called "Boys, It's Roundup Time," on Curly's CD, The Heritage.)


Second Thoughts

He was all propped up on pillows - y' could tell he was in pain
there was hoses hooked t' bottles - drippin' slowly in his veins
I said," What would you do different, if y' done 'er all again?"
he pondered on th' subject some an' sez, "That all depends."

"If th' same thing was t' happen - an' I knew in advance
I'da took along a rifle - an' an extra pair of pants
I wouldn't rode that grey horse," he said deep in thought
"An' in retrospect I reckon, I'da shot that dog I brought.

"He's th' cause of most my problems," he sez with an icy stare
"What th' hell was he thinkin' of? barkin' at that bear."
   His nostrils flared in anger, he was twitchin' in his cast
"An' any horse but that grey one - I needed one that's fast.

"He knew that bear was back there - he chased us down the hill
I bailed off an' ran right past him - like he was standin' still
an' I wouldn't a climbed that oak tree - if I'd knowed at th' time
but no one ever told me that a grizzly bear could climb.

"I doubt I'da spurred his head so hard when he come climbin' close
   of all th' things I done - I b'lieve that pissed him off th' most
 But th' main thing I'd do different - if just one thing I could pick
 is I'da just stayed in the bunkhouse - an' pretended I was sick."

© 3/16/98 Pat Richardson
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written

Cowboy Banker

"I wanna be a cowboy," said the banker Larry Brown
"an' work out in the country, 'steada cooped up here in town."
When his wife got wind of this she nearly went berserk
he made a hundred grand a year, doin' banker work.

She said," You can't ride a horse, you can barely drive a Jeep
the whole idea's dumber than a hundred head of sheep."
"Ben said he'd teach me everything I need to know
an' how long can that take? There's just giddyup an' whoa."

He went thumbin' through a catalog of "Western wear an' feed"
with his calculator hummin', addin' up the things he'd need
"A thousand for a saddle? There must be some mistake
a misprint he reckoned, a grand for heaven's sake?"

A hat an' vest, boots an' spurs, an' naturally a rope
a bridle, reins, an' silver bit, an' a bar of saddle soap
a pickup an' a trailer, an' assorted odds an' ends
"It's pretty dang expensive now, I'll tell you that my friend

Saddle blankets, underclothes, an' oh yes a pair of chinks.
When he hit the total button, took an hour just to blink.
So he gave up that cowboy scheme an' sez with some dismay,
"I can't afford to be a cowboy on a lousy banker's pay."

© 2/14/ 01, Pat Richardson
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written

J. D. Yates and Dick Yates at Phoenix, Arizona
Drawing by Pat Richardson



I Never

I never rode a buckin' horse
an' spurred his ornery hide
I never roped a wild steer
I never even tried

I never fixed a windmill
or lots of other stuff
But I coulda been a cowboy
'cause I'm damn sure dumb enough.

© 2003, Pat Richardson
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


The Auction

Up in "Horse Snot," North Dakota, Rod was hunkered deep in thought
On what to tell his wife about that pinto horse he'd bought

What the deuce had he been thinkin'? What had gotten in his skull?
When a kid on a trike asked him," Where'd you get the cull?"

In the ring he'd sure looked different, as they asked for opening bids
And the auctioneer remarked," He'd be a dandy for your kids."

" Man just looky how he's colored, why with all four stockin' feet
You'll get looks of admiration when you ride him down the street

He's pigeon toed, I'll grant you that." And that sure worried Rod
"- - But just use corrective shoein' on him when you have him shod

His left eye's good! It's guaranteed, Hey! turn that horse around
Who the Hell said ringbone? Why the owner swears he's sound!

Hip knocked down yer sayin'? Y'd oughta keep yer mouth shut Jack
The Vet that we had check him sez that horses hips grow back!"

Well it was after Rodney'd paid them that he saw the big abscess
And too weak to climb the tailgate, had to stop him twice to rest

An' as his misses threw a hissy fit - ol' Rod sez with a grin
" The reason that I bought him was - they threw the halter in

(for Rod Nelson)

© 3/13/03, Pat Richardson
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Ed's Cow Dog

Remember the look on Ed Brown's face
when his dog killed the neighbor's wife's cat?
'Cause she always said, "An eye fer an eye!"
an' she'd fight at the drop of a hat

She outweighed Ed forty six pounds
of muscle, tough gristle, an' bone
So Ed thought when he told her
he'd better do it by phone

He was shakin' so bad, he got the wrong number
an' mumbled, "My dog killed yer cat."
Some lady said, "Those things happen at times."
an' told Ed not to worry 'bout that

Ed couldn't believe it! as mean as she was
that things had turned out so well
'Cause he had it figured, if she hated the cat
she still woulda raised Holy hell

The next time Ed saw her was in at the store
he smiled an' tipped his ol' hat
Sez, "I was surprised you took it so well
when you found out my dog killed your cat."

Well she came apart like a two dollar watch
like Mount Etna, an' Hurricane Lou
The Doc sez Ed's chances ain't very good
that it's likely he may not pull through

"I got him sewed up." sez the Doc with a frown
"But his blood just won't seem to clot
He's got lacerations, an' brutal tooth marks
in some highly unspeakable spots."

A gurgling noise was heard from Ed's throat
his eyes had a dull vacant stare
An' everyone heard - Ed's final words,

(for Ed Brown)

© 3/08/03, Pat Richardson
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Stop Me

"Stop me if you heard this," the aging cowboy said.
We all tried to stop him, but he went right ahead.

"I drew a palomino horse, weighed fifteen hundred pounds,
I had won the first two days, this was the final round.

"It happened up in Boise, in fifty-two," he said.
"Stan Gomez won the doggin'; he could tell you, but he's dead.

"Dorsey won the ropin', he could verify it's true,
But hell, come to think of it, ol' E. V. is dead, too.

"Dogie Davidson was ridin' bulls, he'll back up my tale,
But I heard someone killed him in a Tijuana jail.

"Nunnemaker seen it, he could say it's so,
But he died of cancer fifteen years ago!

"It's a sorry situation, all my pals have up and died!
But anyway, let's get back to tellin' 'bout my ride."

He paused for several minutes, a strange look on his face.
His eyes had a vacant look as he stared into space.

He'd forgot what he was tellin'; we were kissed by lady luck.
We wouldn't have to listen to that palomino buck.

We'd heard him ride the same horse in pinto and in bay,
Sorrel, and sevina, just depending on the day.

Each time he told it, he added touches here and there,
Sometimes as a gelding, a stud horse, or a mare.

But regardless of the color, the sex, or of the weight,
He rode and spurred it handily, wound up lookin' great.

We all knew he was lyin', every word he said,
'Cause he never told the story till the witnesses were dead.

© Pat Richardson
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written



Benny's Cabin

The cabin was in shambles, like a riot had occurred
broken reins an' spurstraps everywhere
All the window glass was broken, an' the door just had one hinge
my first thought was, "It musta been a bear."

A pile of wooden splinters that had maybe been a chair
an' rat manure piled ankle deep
A half cured hide was rotting on a table by the stove
an' a bumper from a forty seven Jeep

There were spider webs, broken lamps, an' torn up dirty clothes
beer cans were scattered wall to wall
an' lottsa funny skidmarks through these piles of debris
where I reckoned that a rattlesnake had crawled

"It musta killed ol' Benny." I turns an' sez to Bill
"My God I sure hope that it was quick
The thoughts of all this carnage, an' ol' Benny bein' here
I tell you Bill, it makes a feller sick."

We hurried to the barn, an' his horses were OK
they had water and had recently been fed
I told Bill in a whisper," It sure looks to me
like that bear caught ol' Benny in his bed."

Then we heard a pickup comin', it came chuggin' into view
he threw it outta gear an' let 'er coast
An' settin' in the drivers seat, it was plain to see
what I figured musta been ol' Benny's ghost

"Howdy boys," sez Benny as he opens up the door
an' crawls out of that smokin', gaspin', wreck
"I hadda go to town, an' get a few supplies
but the grocer didn't wanna take my check."

"What happened in yer cabin?" We both harmonized
"My God we both thought that you was dead."
"Nothin' that I know of," Benny answers back
he looked around inside an' then he said:

"It don't look like nothin's missin', 'course it's hard to tell
leastwise there's nothin' I can find,
It's a little messy an' could use a muckin' out
seems my household chores are just a bit behind."

A dead rat was floating in the water in the sink
he fished it out an' rinsed off several spoons
He sez," I'll fix us up a little bite to eat
why looky at the time, it's almost noon."

Well I almost had a coma, standin' in that filth an' stench
the thoughts of eatin' in there made me sick
I gestured to Bill, who sez, "Hold on just a bit
first let's find out what he's gonna fix."

© 2004, Pat Richardson
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

The Cow Boss

"Y'd better check those heifers we got on the Jensen place
they should be gettin' pretty close with calf
we need to keep an eye on them an' hay 'em everyday
give a little tender care on their behalf."

"We'd maybe oughta move 'em to that ninety acre patch
get 'em up here closer to the shed
Those are sure some good bred heifers, best I ever had
an' you better move 'em slow." the big boss said

"Don't take those yappin' dogs along, you leave those buggers home
they'd oughta all be lined up an shot
The way they run the cattle, it's sure a cryin' shame
an' I don't want those heifers gettin' hot."

"An' don't you be ropin' them, the way you always have
when you think I ain't watchin' what you do
Be sure an' get 'em all this time, 'cause I'm gonna check
an' when I do, I'd best count fifty two."

"Make sure the windmill's workin', an put out a lotta salt
there ain't much grass so give 'em lottsa hay
Check all the fences, and mend the ones that's down
I don't wanna have to hunt them every day."

"What all did he say?" Slim asked ol' Tex
"Man that was some lengthy dialogue."
Tex sez, "We gotta move them heifers -  I think that's what he said
You saddle up while I turn loose the dogs."

© 2004, Pat Richardson
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


The Evaluation

"I'd rather be lost in the desert
with a case of spectacular scours,
I'd rather be staked to an anthill
and left there for twenty-four hours."

"I'd rather be gut-shot and beaten,
I'd rather go stark raving blind;
I'd rather be snake-bit and poisoned,
than read your poem one more time."

"I can't tell you how much that I hate it,
the first word I think of is 'stunned';
and I sure wouldn't tell it in public
unless I was wearing a gun."

I weighed his conclusions a moment.
I re-read my poem, and said:
"You suppose it'd be any better
if I made it a roan horse instead?"

© 2004, Pat Richardson, from Pat Richardson, Unhobbled
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


A COWBOY (through a heifer's eyes)

A cowboy through a heifer's eyes, is not a pleasant sight
'specially if she's calving out, some cold and stormy night
He rides up on some ornery looking, half broke, snorty colt
and just the sight of those two, give your system quite a jolt

He never has a flashlight, as he fumbles in the night
he's got bedside manners, like two grizzlies on the fight
Grunting, roaring, cussing, dadgum fingers cold and rough
the calving chains are frozen, as if things ain't bad enough

It's sure amazing the abuse, that us heifers can survive
and I'm always half surprised, when the calf comes out alive
Once this ordeal's over, and you see that you're both fine
weather warms, the feed is good, and a shady stand of pine

For a spell you're left alone there, 'till your calf gets big and fat
then one day out of nowhere, comes this feller in a hat
He drives you to a big corral, and sorts you from your calf
he ropes and brands your baby, and he cuts one ear in half

But... I'll give the bugger credit, though he ain't much for show
by God he'll come and help you, when it's twenty some below

© 2006, Pat Richardson
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



I ran a little trap line up in Idaho one year;
one night I heard a tapping on the door.
I looked out and there stood Bigfoot, holding up his off hind leg,
acting like his foot was kind of sore.

So I let him come on in, it was mighty cold outside,
and offered him a bowl of beans to eat.
He acted mighty hungry, and as he scarffed them down
I made a close inspection of his feet.

Seems he'd run a jagged splinter in-between two hairy toes
and I thought, "I better pull that if I can."
I got my shoeing nippers and pulled that splinter out,
and that's how our relationship began.

He did up all the dishes just to show his gratitude
and soon had things as clean as they could get.
As he stood there looking 'round for something more that he could do
I realized he hadn't spoken yet.

I asked him 'bout his childhood, and he just made slurping sounds,
seems like talking wasn't something he could do;
I thought of all the stories that I'd have to tell my kids
if I could teach old Sasquatch something new.

So I'd hold up a simple object, and tell him what it was
and I soon found his mind was sharp and crisp;
and with exact pronunciation he'd repeat each word I said
though I noticed he was hindered by a lisp.

Mississippi gave him problems with all the esses it contained,
and he'd dribble little spitballs on his fur;
I tried tongue depressors, enemas, and books by Baxter Black,
But I never seemed to come up with a cure.

As the winter days passed quickly, I taught him how to cook,
sweep the floor, make the beds, and check the traps;
and with him to help me out it sorta took the pressure off
and for once I had some time to just relax.

I taught him several card games just to while the time away
and at first I think old Bigfoot liked them all;
but if I'd paid more attention, I'd've seen the warning signs
'cause as time wore on he favored Five Card Draw.

At first we played for matches, or see who'd warm the beans,
sweep the floor, make the beds, and get the wood.
'Fore you know it, seems I'm doing all the chores around the place,
and our relationship is going none too good.

Pretty soon I'm betting beaver pelts I can't afford to lose,
they're the only thing of value on the place;
and I still think he bluffed a lot, but it was hard to tell
'cause old Bigfoot really had a poker face.

Well, by spring he had me busted, everything I owned was his,
he had my rifle, wore my parka and my cap.
He held title to my cabin and the land I built it on,
he had all my beaver pelts and owned the traps.

They say gambling's an addiction that can only be controlled
if you recognize the problem runs real deep.
Well, I can recognize my problem from half a mile away
'cause he weighs eight hundred pounds and drives my Jeep.

© 2004, Pat Richardson, from Pat Richardson, Unhobbled
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Morning Mist

Horses veiled in morning mist spurs jingle out a song
first rays in the east as moon surrenders to the dawn

Ponies snort and shake the bridle reins, a coyote slips on past
shod hooves beat a rhythm muffled only by the grass

You glimpse an owl returning home, you hear the leather creak
the beauty of the morning's such that no one dare's to speak

The North Dakota Badlands filled with secrets of the past
lies in silent grandeur with a beauty unsurpassed

We rode along in silence as the morning sun arose
and most would be embarrassed if their feelings were exposed

Cowboys love a roundup and as the crew heads out again
you detect a little soft spot in these cattle-savvy men

It's times like these I wish in maybe some poetic way
I could record for others, special feelings of the day

If I perhaps possessed a much more educated pen
my primitive descriptions would be understood by men

Though I lack the wit and wisdom to do justice to this scene
I'll bet the cowboys out amongst you, know exactly what I mean

© 2006, Pat Richardson
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Pat's original final lines to the poem were:

I can think of only one thing that's more beautiful in life
it's to snuggle undetected with the neighbor's gorgeous wife

He tells that it made his brother, poet Jess Howard, "madder than hell," so he relented and changed it. Jess suggested the lines:

The North Dakota Badlands filled with secrets of the past
lies in silent grandeur with a beauty unsurpassed

Pat found a way to turn it all around again, and uses those lines to introduce one of his funniest poems, "The Queen of North Dakota," which comes close to being as politically incorrect as his famous "The Donner Party." You won't find those at the BAR-D, but they are in Pat's recent book, Pat Richardson Unhobbled, which received the Will Rogers Medallion award. 



How to Make a Cowboy

To make yourself a cowboy, supplement this simple list
All you need's a healthy body with a will to co-exist
One that's brilliant is a hindrance, it serves no benefit
It's better to select one that is too damn dumb to quit

If he's athletic it will help, can synchronize both hand and eye
One that's got his hammer cocked and keeps his powder dry
Add a quart of mountain oysters slowly bring it to a boil
Then cool it slowly on the sink board, hard twisted in a coil

Reheating doesn't hurt a bit if you make some mistake
The folks up in Alberta add two cups of rattle snake
Then you tamp three quarts of sand down into his skinny craw
And the most important thing is that you keep his courage raw

Knead it with your fingers, but don't let it get too cold
Then stuff it in some Wranglers and a shirt to make a mold
You'd best bow the legs a little so they'll fit around his mount
Don't worry 'bout the face, 'cause the looks don't really count

Then you blow into his mouth, to give him the breath of life
Then keep him clear of children and don't let him near your wife
He'll be up and dressed and ready at the first sign of light
You can work him like a burro now
óbut keep him tied at night.

© 1998, Pat Richardson
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



Billy Baker

Get your chores done up early, throw the cat out grab your hat
Ďcause the Frontier County Fairgrounds, is the place you should be at
Tonightís the night that Billy Baker is performing as you know
heíll be riding bucking horses at the Frontier rodeo

Heís never got one rode, three jumps the best heís done
they say watching him ainít pretty but by golly now itís fun
Heís got the balance of a cobble stone, why he does it I donít know
he lands just like a lead duck, but he sure puts on a show

Did yí see that wicked scar, he sports right behind his ear?
thatís where he hung his spur, up in Fallon just last year
On a score of one to ten, Iíd give old Baldy Sox an eight
Old Billyíd lost a stirrup, ífore they opened up the gate

He turned old Billy wrong side out, damn it was a shame
the only luck he had is that they mispronounced his name
Baldy fired from the chutes, his hocks made a popping sound
it was over in a heartbeat, slamming Billy to the ground

When Billy hit the ground, we heard this funny ring
he starts flopping on the ground, as he done the "chicken thing"
Like two jugglers with the stretcher, medics kept him in the air
and they had to make two trips to pick up all his teeth aní hair

When they got him into surgery, the doctor frowned aní said
"The ornery little buggerís got a spur stuck in his head.
I donít suppose heís got insurance," the orthopedic claimed
"I probably wonít get paid for this, and by God thatís a shame.

"To remove it would take some time," the noted surgeon said
"Iíll just saw the damn thing off, right flush there with his head."
The saw got rather heated up, the spur was tempered steel
left imbedded in his head, was the spur shank aní the wheel

You can hear a little jingle, when old Bill goes limping past
and the spur rowel starts to spinning, when he is thinking fast
But it donít effect his riding none, so you could tell at any rate
still nods his head and hits the ground, before he clears the gate

© 2007, Pat Richardson
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Jackie & Johnny

Now header Jackie Gomez and his heeler John Millard
Were team roping cowboys and they traveled pretty hard
If someone set a record time they'd try to beat or match it
Give them ropes and horses by God now they could catch it.

It seems that all the other ropers would let out delighted squeals
Whenever Jackie missed the horns or Johnny missed the heels
They never missed them often but it happened now and then
They both figured they were fifteen's on a scale of one-to-ten.

Father Time was gaining on them neither one was ironclad
Arthritis took its toll on them, and their eyes were going bad
They were missing lots of cattle Ďtill there finally came a time
Where they couldnít pay their entry fees and hadnít won a dime.

They stole hay to feed their horses they stole gas to run their truck
And they both had quit their drinking just to try to save a buck
ĎTill they finally hit rock bottom things had really gotten crummy
When in last ditch desperation, they up and ate their roping dummy.

© 2007, Pat Richardson
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

The Confession

Itís high time I up and admit it,
Get honest and straight with you guys;
Most of the poems Iíve written
Are shoddily penned and damn lies.

I donít have a clue about nothing,
Iím dumb as a blindfolded sheep,
When I speak of broncs that Iíve ridden
The B.S. at times gets real deep.

When it comes to cowboy traditions
(And Iím not even sure what that means)
Iíve been told by some salty old punchers
That guys of my ilk donít know beans.

But Iíll just keep on with my scribbles
Till all of my fingers have sores
The reason I do it I reckonÖ
Is itís quite a bit better than yours

© 2007, Pat Richardson
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Cowboy Poets

When folks spot a cowboy poet, they'll often try the "DROP and ROLL"
knowing they'll be trapped for hours once he gets 'em button-holed
They'll assault your ears for hours, as they recant their endless tales
of imaginary daring on fictitious cattle trails

Pretending that you're deaf won't work, they'll say "just read my lips"
as they hold up bushy facial-hair with dirty finger tips
They'll get up close and talk real loud, their breath will burn your eyes
and from that Copenhagen cavern the stench will almost paralyze

You feel your head get woozy and your body starts to sway
As he roars "Here's one I know you'll like, I wrote it yesterday"
And even when he inhales, he still smells like dirty socks
and you know your only hope is that his mind will vapor-lock

Your shirt gets wet with slobbers as they eulogize their horse
Till in last-ditch desperation, you resort to brutal force
Now, on a cowboy poet's tombstone you can read this final quote
last words chiseled into granite "Here's another one I wrote."

© 2007, Pat Richardson
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Pat Richardson's brother, Jess Howard, recites this poem on The BAR-D Roundup: Volume Seven. Jess Howard took the 1955 photo of Pat that is the cover of that CD.


Eye of the Beholder

Leigh and Lawrence were two bachelors, the neighbors all would joke,
"They never junk equipment, they just park it when it's broke.
Several neighbor ladies were alarmed at what they saw
and were often heard to murmur, "There ought to be a law."

Fresno scrapers by the mailbox, spring tooth harrows line the lane
some badly worn horse collars and a set of broken hames
an old manure spreader with its beaters now askew
an old McCormick mower they had bought when it was new.

The pile grew and rusted as time went dragging by.
When neighbor ladies passed they'd gasp and roll their eyes.
Finally Lawrence died, and Leigh was pretty old as well.
He couldn't run the place alone and decided he would sell.

The price of cows was down, you could buy them for a song.
And when the men came to look they brought their wives along.
While the ranchers checked the cattle the ladies snooped around.
You'd hear one squeal occasionally, "Look at what I found!"

"Why here's a wooden pulley, these are awfully hard to find
and I gotta have that hand pump, I've never seen that kind."
"I want that mower for my yard and that collar for my door
and that Jackson fork's exquisite, never noticed it before."

One lady yelled, "Two hundred!," reaching in her purse.
Another bellowed, "No you don't, I saw the bugger first!"
When they auctioned off the cattle they didn't bring a lot
but the bidding in the driveway was getting pretty hot.

All semblance of civility had seemed to disappear.
"The dangdest thing I ever seen," exclaimed the auctioneer.
Tempers were erupting as the frenzied group unearthed
countless hidden treasures no telling what they're worth.

Their jaws set, necks were stiff, not smiling anymore
the gals exposed canine teeth, a side not seen before.
Jousting for position in an exhilarated mode,
Like greedy Forty Niners as they ravaged the Mother Lode.

They trampled down the bushes in what little yard he had
like a herd of charging rhinos they were wicked, quick and mad.
When the dust had finally settled and Leigh totaled up his take,
he had got three hundred dollars for a worn-out sulky rake.

He sat in awe and wonder till I finally heard him speak,
"Damn hard to tell the difference between junk and real antiques."

© 2014, Pat Richardson
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.




Read Pat Richardson's:

Here's to the Cowboys posted with 2006 Christmas poems


patandhowardarvada.JPG (16044 bytes)

Tribute to his friend Howard Parker


Our Song, in our ArtSpur project

On the Trail, in our ArtSpur project


Howdy Friend and Merry Christmas
posted with other 2002 Holiday poems and his Christmas Cheer posted with other Holiday 2003 poems.

See Benny's Funeral, by Pat Richardson and Yvonne Hollenbeck
Things a Cowboy Knows, by Pat Richardson and Kip Calahan

from the Academy of Western Artists 1st Annual Cowboy Poetry/Songwriting Team Roping Challenge





Book and Recordings  


Pat Richardson Live  DVD


The Live DVD showcases a spot-on performance from at Mariposa, California's 17th Annual Cannonball Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

Half the fun is Pat Richardson's signature deadpan delivery of tall tales, jokes, one-liners and poetry, which he maintains steadily, even in reaction to the unbridled laughter of the audience. Many of his most popular poems are included, such as "The Donner Party," "The Queen of North Dakota," and "My Brother," along with several unmatchable favorites about Benny Meyers. His comment about one poem sums up his approach, "They said it was crude and obnoxious. And it is. But that's the beauty of it."

Pat Richardson is one-of-a-kind. He's incorrigible, politically incorrect, and nearly painfully funny, all with impeccable timing. He's a perennial favorite at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering and many events. Even if you've seen many of those performances and know the material well, each time you hear it again you find yourself as amused as you were the first time. His delivery is a study in perfect performance.

It's always tempting to quote Baxter Black, who has said, "If you boiled cowboy poetry down to what's worth savin', this is what the stew would smell like." This live performance is anything but leftovers; it's a feast of fun.


Pat Richardson Strikes Again with Duckin' the Law and Many More


Friend in Need
Cowboy Logic
Duckin' the Law (by Jess Howard)
Hoarse Whisper
Morning Mist
Henry the Cook
The Alamo
Cowboy Handyman
The Critic
The Cure
The Lover
Repulsive Trophy
Uncle Ned (by Jess Howard)
Zeke & the Bull

with introductory and ending music by Brandon Richardson




Pat Richardson Strikes Again with Duckin' the Law and Many More

"Strike" and "duck" and "Pat Richardson" have probably been used in the same breath more than once. The title of Pat Richardson's new CD, Pat Richardson Strikes Again with Duckin' the Law and Many More, gives a good warning of what is to come in this collection of 16 previously unrecorded original poems (two are by his brother, Jess Howard, and there is one collaboration by Pat and Jess). "Original" is the right word for Pat's work and his muted, deadpan delivery. He has no match when it comes to humor, and no reciter doing his material (something he discourages) can reproduce the hilarity of his powerful, side-splitting affect on audiences.

Known as "the bad boy of cowboy poetry," Pat Richardson's newest CD is full of the poems that deliver on that promise. No one is safe and nothing is sacred, with most of the pointed jabs directed at cowboysóor himself. What makes him such a pro is that he's not just funny, he is also a master of metaphors, colorful adjectives, meter and rhyme, and, full of surprises. He works harder than most on the editing and refining of his work. His friend Baxter Black, however, may not have been referring to that when he commented, "If you boiled cowboy poetry down to what's worth savin', this is what the stew would smell like."

"A Friend in Need" is an example of twisted cowboy compassion, "Cowboy Logic" is a look at the breed from women's point of view, "Henry the Cook" evokes the same sort of graphic groaners and descriptive assaults on the senses as Pat Richardson's infamous poem, "The Donner Party." Long-time fans will welcome another Benny Meyers story ("The Lover") and another assault on his friend and frequent target, popular North Dakota poet Rodney Nelson ("Repulsive Trophy").

"Bigfoot," which will be included on The BAR-D Roundup: Volume 3 (2008) from CowboyPoetry.com, is an inventive and wacky windy about the creature who shows up at the cabin door with a splinter, which the narrator pulls out with his shoeing nippers. Bigfoot speaks with a lisp. "Mississippi gave him problems with all the esses it contained, and he'd dribble little spitballs on his fur; I tried tongue depressors, enemas, and books by Baxter Black, but I never seemed to come up with a cure."  The rest of the story is as unpredictable as the poker hands the beast draws.

Jess Howard's comical and inventive "Uncle Ned" is a story out of the brothers' colorful and dysfunctional family, the rich source for a number of Richardson/Howard tales, and Jess Howard's "Duckin' the Law" is a frequently-requested favorite of audiences. A strange sibling harmony makes the co-written "Zeke and the Bull" sing in its own outrageous strangeness. As a bonus, the real music comes from another generation, in introductory and final music by Pat Richardson's talented grandson, Brandon Richardson.

Pat Richardson comes across so comfortably reciting and introducing his poems, that he makes a listener feel like they are sharing barstools in some friendly, broken down cowboy saloon. Pat spent plenty of time in such places. He was born and raised with livestock, he rode colts, rodeoed, cartooned for The Pro Rodeo Sports News, and did his share of ranch work. He's an impressive artist and has produced other award-winning CDs and his book, Pat Richardson Unhobbled, Cowboy Poetry, Stories, and Outright Lies received the Will Rogers Medallion award.

These days he's found at the top gatherings and events, and is a frequently invited performer to the Western Folklife Center's National Cowboy Poetry Gathering. When you're not in his audience, Pat Richardson Strikes Again with Duckin' the Law and Many More is the newest, next-best-thing to being there.


Pat Richardson Unhobbled, Cowboy Poetry, Stories, and Outright Lies by Pat Richardson



My Brother
When Old Buck Died
Second Thoughts
Sands of Time
Pony Eggs
Two Old Hands
Forty Years of Marriage
Henry Stowell
North Dakota Sweatshop & Saddle Co.
Yuletide Greetin's
Mom and the Billy Goat
Act of Kindness
Missing Person
Michael McGinty's Saloon
Love Thy Neighbor
Loser School
Leonard's Confession
Ed in Elko
Ed's Funeral (posted with Elko poems, separate page)
Ed's Pickup
Ed's Glasses
Big Outfit
E. P. A.
Bill's Dog
Embrioderin' the Truth
Frenchy and the Bay Horse
The Donner Party
Hoppy and the Coyote
Five Card Draw
Cowboy and the Waitress
Bad Habits
Chris Beck
The Coyote Track
Burt and the Cow
Bob Fletcher
Bill Fleecyhocks
The Night Before New Years
The Alamo
Shep's Poetry
Roundup in the Spring
Rod's Wig
Tico and the Cow
Benny and the Pigs
Benny and the Pandas
The Evaluation
The Change



Pat Richardson Unhobbled, Cowboy Poetry, Stories, and Outright Lies

The title itself may be enough to make you take cover: Pat Richardson Unhobbled.  It's the long-awaited book by the 2003 recipient of the AWA's Will Rogers Award for Best Male Poet.

What's left to be said about Pat Richardson, the man with the dangerously hilarious imagination who creates mostly twisted, comic poetry?  His friends offered comments for this book, "There's less here than meets the eye";  "I would like to say this is one of the finest books I've ever read, but I'm not that big a liar..."; "There is no beginning to Mr. Richardson's talent..."; "Pat's sole purpose in life is to serve as a warning to others." Only Richardson, the master of understated outrageousness, would collect insulting blurbs for his book.

He's truly a legend in his own time, right up there with "Anonymous" in having so many of his poems recited by others, often without credit. This book should set the record straight with the polished originals of his best-known poems, including "The Donner Party," "Pony Eggs," "My Brother," and "Missing Person."

More people probably know the first lines of "The Donner Party" than know their grandmother's maiden name: "They sent invitations to the remnants of the Donner Party crew, gonna have a big reunion and old time Bar-B-Que."

Other wacky poems include "Bigfoot," who shows up at the cabin door with a splinter, which the narrator pulls out with his shoeing nippers.  He notices Bigfoot speaks with a lisp "Mississippi gave him problems with all the esses it contained, and he'd dribble little spitballs on his fur; I tried tongue depressors, enemas, and books by Baxter Black, but I never seemed to come up with a cure."  He teaches the beast Five Card Draw and there's a lot more to the rest of the story.

Nothing is sacred, and some of his favorite targets are his poet friends Ed Brown and Rodney Nelson; other North Dakotans; his old partner Benny Meyers; former ranch hands; and environmentalists.  In "North Dakota Sweatshop & Saddle Co.," he takes care of more than a few endangered birds with one stone: "Handcrafted panda bear bullwhips with spotted owl claws on the grip, poppers of walrus eyelids attached with a whale's lower lip./ Authentic, exceptional hatbands from hides of unborn baby seals, tanned with whooping crane egg whites to achieve that unmatchable feel..."

Just what's behind this "evil genius" and his outlandish dark humor? Richardson was surely the kid that your mother warned you about, and this book gives some insight into how he got that way.  Some poems, stories, and vintage photos tell of his hardscrabble childhood with his cow-dealing father "Sometimes he traded his cows, and sometimes other peoples' cows" and a mother who "shouldn't have been allowed within five hundred feet of children." He went to thirteen different grade schools and he and his brother, poet Jess Howard, have different last names because "...when things would start going bad, Dad would sell the cows, move, and change our name."  His preface to the book tells more with considerable humor, and it becomes clear that his lightning-quick wit saved his life while his exceptional talents propelled him into the world as a survivor.

No, he's not all politically incorrect, crude, and rude.  The book includes at least one lyrical poem, "Roundup in the Spring," which was recently set to music by AWA Entertainer of the Year Curly Musgrave (as "Boys, It's Roundup Time").  There are some touching memories of and much respect for friends, many made on the rodeo circuit, where he rode broncs and bulls and worked as a cartoonist for the Pro Rodeo Sports News. "Forty Years of Marriage" is a humorous but telling poem written for his long-suffering wife, Jane, and accompanied by a sweet drawing of her that he writes is from a photo "I took of her up in a Eucalyptus tree just before she was captured." A section at the back of the book includes some of his rodeo drawings and an impressive range of other excellent drawings.

In addition to the original art and vintage personal and rodeo photos, the book has over 50 poems and stories.  Despite the tough and cynical exterior he likes to promote, his legion of friends know him as a loyal and generous man. The brave telling of his personal stories gives rare insight into his comic genius. The hilarious poems and tales are without equal.

Pat Richardson Unhobbled is more than a book. Like an encounter with him, or being in his audience, it's an experience. Don't miss it.  He's one of a kind.

Review by Margo Metegrano, CowboyPoetry.com editor


B.Y.O.S. (Bring Your Own Sheep

Pat says "That's me on Mack Barbour's 'White Hope' back when I still had teeth and balance."


Intro and Suicide
Queen of N. D.
Missin' Person
Hoppy the Coyote
Cowboy Tuneup
Cowboy Banker
Tico & the Cow
Shep's Poetry
Singin' Cowboy
Ned's Treasure
Benny & the Pandas
Bill Fleecyhocks
Ed's Glasses
E. P. A.
N. D. Sweatshop
My Brother




Pull My Finger


Forty Years of Marriage
Benny and the Angels
Act of Kindness
Benny and the Raven
The Donner Party
When Ol' Buck Died
Bad Habits
Ol' Lucky
Big Brand
N. D. Yardsale
Mornin' Mist
The Alamo
Cowboy Handyman
Sands of Time
Ed's Funeral
Bill and His Dog
Two Old Hands
Pony Eggs



Live!!!  Pat Richardson at Thousand Oaks, Ca.

Pat says "I also have a live 20 min. CD taped at Thousand Oaks, Ca. with the audience booing and hissing."



Pat & Jess

Four tapes of Pat Richardson and Jess Howard  




Pen and Ink Drawings:

Prints of Pat Richardson's pen and ink drawings are available for $15 each, four for $50.  All drawings measure 11"x14" and are printed in sepia tone on textured stock.


 Many of Pat's drawings are included in his book, Pat Richardson, Unhobbled.


photo by Yvonne Hollenbeck










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