The Metal Horse: A Cowboys Good Usin’ Gelding

This weekend I got involved in a conversation about cowboys and what they consider to be good “usin’ geldings,” to use their terminology. I’ve lived in the country for eight years now and when I say “cowboy” I mean people who get on horses and push their cows from place to place, or rope their cattle to brand or treat them. These are working cattlemen and they need their horses to be steady and reliable. I got to wondering what horse personality fit the description of usin’ gelding.

The cattleman was going around inquiring about good usin’ geldings to buy. When asked what he meant by that, he spat on the ground (not being unfriendly, just his manner) and said that a usin’ gelding should do his job, love his job, stand when told to stand, move when told to move, be quick enough for cows but quiet enough for the grandkid, and, oh yeah, did he mention do his job? Sound like a familiar horse personality?

In other words, for a cowboy a good usin’ gelding sounds like a perfect Metal horse. He has to be able to stand up to the rigors of cowboy life, which don’t include a lot of pampering out on the range. Around here, the Metal horse will probably get plenty of hay and maybe a salt block, but not much else. Tack will fit probably pretty well (a lot of people use slick-fork saddles around here, which seem to fit more horses) and be in decent but not great repair. The horse will work long, long hours and be expected to walk, trot, lope, and run all-out over all kinds of terrain. The horse will also need to be a good rope horse and drag the most belligerent animal anywhere (dead or alive). That’s a perfect job description for the Metal horse personality.

Surprisingly, these cowboys don’t care much what the horse looks like. Function matters far more than form. They will choose an “ugly” hammerheaded mustang or grade gelding with stout legs and a fabulous attitude over a pretty hothouse flower. When it comes to horse personality, most cowboys choose Metal types. Only the Metal horse seems to withstand the rigors of cowboy life and not need the personal attention that many of the other personality types need. In fact, at the end of the day both cowboy and Metal horse are pleased to part company and be left alone. The Metal horse LOVES to be left alone when he’s not working, perfect for the working cowboy who has to see to other tasks.

Anyway, an interesting conversation about “usin’ geldings” led to this stream of thoughts about Metal horses!

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