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I read in some web site about the way cowboys mark different attitude cowponies by braiding or clipping their manes a certain way, This way out of the cowpony herd, the working cowboy can pick out a horse meant for his particular job of the day. Have you got that information?

- L. H. Charter School


I'd appreciate it if you'd send me the URL of the website that had that info on it. Frankly, I've never heard of such a thing, and I have a hard time imagining that marking the manes of cow ponies would be worth the effort.

Folks who work with a bunch of horses on a regular basis develop an ability to identify individual horses and their character traits that seems astonishing to non-horsepeople. One quick example: I bought Willy and moved him from Duluth, Minnesota, to his new home almost 100 miles away. More than a year later, a lady from Duluth moved to Grand Rapids and was looking around for a place to board her horse. She spotted a familiar-looking horse in a back paddock and immediately asked, "Is that Willy?"

After just a few weeks at a new ranch, any cowhand worth his salt could pick a horse at random out of a remuda of 50 or 75 head and instantly tell you everything you needed to know about that mount.

To give you an idea of how really easy it is for a cowhand to do this, try this little experiment among a bunch of junior or senior high classmates: Pick a student at random, then point at random to another classmate of the opposite gender. I'd be very surprised if the first student couldn't instantly name the second student -- and probably tell you a lot about the second student's temperament. Cow ponies are a working cowhand's four-legged "classmates."

The view from between Butch's ears When I rode with the North Star Stampede Rodeo cattle drive, I used a horse borrowed from Howard Pitzen's herd. One of the other riders quickly told me that the horse I had drawn was "Butch," that he was the fastest moving horse in the herd, and that the way to keep him happy was to let him drift up the side of the herd until we were in front, then let the herd pass us and start from the back again. That rider could have given a similar analysis for any other horse in the remuda. What did he need clipped manes for?

Thanks for the interesting question... I look forward to seeing that website you mentioned. [Note: it was never sent.]

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