Guest Post: By Larry Hannon
It was the spring of 1968 and the Asst. Dean of the College of Agriculture at OSU had called me into his office to tell me I wasn’t to come back to school that coming fall. I was 12 hours short of graduating! He said I was a bad influence on the student body. Something about roping a streaker in front of the University library! But – that’s a totally different story and we won’t go there right now.
I had secured a job with Texas County Feedyards in Guymon, OK and was headed out west. I quickly worked my way into becoming a pen rider and was once again with the horses. I was also rodeoing pretty hard, just like back at the university.
Then, lo and behold my local draft board back home found out I was no longer going to be enrolled at the university. They sent me my invitation to come and join Uncle Sam’s military, and travel to a place called Vietnam! Well, I managed to finagle my way into the US Air Force instead of being a tunnel rat! A college buddy of mine who had come back from over there had forewarned me about those boys.
I wound up at Reese Air Force base just west of Lubbock, TX, a perfect location to rodeo out of, while serving Uncle Sam. I had met my wife while working at Guymon, and I spent the next year trying to convince her to marry me. I finally wore her down, and she gave in! We were married on August 11, 1969, and I moved her and all of our belongings in the back of my ’65 Short Bed Chevrolet pickup to Lubbock, Texas.
She helped convince me to give up trying to ride bareback broncs and contributing my money to all of those tough RCA cowboys. So I began to settle down and start becoming a family.
It was 1971 when I started looking for a part time job to help supplement my military pay. A lady named Caroline Handl had a kennel, cattery and horse barn located between the base and Lubbock just off highway 70. She needed a hand to clean stalls, take care of the barn, and feed the horses. She would pay $20.00/week. I took the job.
When I had left the ranch to go to boot camp, I told dad to sell my old saddle horse. He was a Buckskin that I had started as a 3 year old. He was 10 years old by this time, and dad found him a good home on a dude ranch in upstate New York. A long way from the Osage country of Oklahoma!
For the first and only time in my life I was without a horse, and I relished the thought of being able to work around horses at Caroline’s stable. This was where a little brown 2 year old stud horse and I would come together.
There were five horses stalled there with one being an older buckskin with navicular, a big warm blood that a young lady showed in hunter jumper, a couple of college student’s roping horses and the little brown 2 year old stud. The colt made it quite plane he wanted nothing to do with me! He was more receptive to Miss Caroline when she was close, but with reservations. He was not a friendly colt at all!
After a few days, I asked Miss Caroline if the colt was hers. She told me no, he belonged to a fella in town who had bred his Quarter mare to an Appaloosa stud by the name of Joker B. Joker B was ‘THE’ premiere Appaloosa stallion at that time, and the colt had very good conformation and balance. He wasn’t very tall, but I could tell he was going to be stout. He matured to be 14.2 hands. Although he was solid brown in color, you could see the dark spots on his rump, especially in the summer when he was slicked off.
Miss Caroline confided in me that the fella had brought the colt out, backed up to the run and kicked him out of the trailer and left him. The only times he came back were when he was drunk and fighting with his wife. He would take his frustrations out on the colt by beating him unmercifully. She also said he was almost 3 months behind on his feed and stall bills, and if he did not make his payment at the end of the month she would be owning the colt.