The Horse’s Tale

a New Mexico fabliau, on Chauceran scale…..



This is a tale with two separate endings.

It’s in media res where our story’s beginning,

for where does a story really begin,

but after the facts are recounted again.


Life’s like a stream — it flows and it surges,

before it then changes; and the change then emerges.


So this tale thus starts in ‘con-fabulation’,

two tales in one, and then a separation.


But I do digress, I must confess,

and I’m getting ahead of my story.

To avoid any possible additional mess,

let us start with a bit of the history.


The auto comes in about nineteen hundred;

in the West, people still rode their horses.

The cowboy and horse were sort of close kindred,

where horses were important resources.


Now, believe this or not, but the horse then could talk.

It’s true! I lie to you not.

You’ll find in the Lit, if you research a bit,

many — even Swift — wrote of it.


The auto’s introduction,

it’s sale and mass production,

caused quite a stir amongst horses — insurrection!

For this was a fear for the horses to hear,

which they felt was a treacherous act.

For the movement of horses,

in joining their forces,

against all of mankind

for behaving unkind –

well, this was just getting on track.

They were just getting started in with holding their voices,

cause they felt they were stabbed in the back.


As this story progresses,

bear in mind these redresses

of the horses and how they will act.


Our story begins before nineteen and ten,

oh, I think is was nineteen oh five,

with a horse named Jim,

short for Jim Dande,

and Cowboy Bob, Jim’s cowboy friend,

where they thrived,

someplace close along the Rio Grande.


For the cowboy and horse

it’s worse than a curse

to be getting all wet in the water;

and this is a fact

that in time goes way back,

just as sure,’as Bob’s not your father’.


When had to, they did so; but they’d rather not bothered

to never go near, nor cross any water.


Now it just so happened on a mid day in May,

when they’d worked with their cattle all that day,

they fell into casual respite and horseplay.


They had driven their herd to the opposite side

of the river, from their ranch, where they all reside.

T’was a little old ranch called The Tumbleweed Thistle,

but for short, they’d just called it The Bush,

cause Bob couldn’t spell and found it a hassle,

and the short name’s the same for the same kind of brush.


Now, Jim Dande could spell, but refused and he wouldn’t,

because of the problem with cars, he felt that he shouldn’t.


With Bob in the saddle, and Dande on shoes,

Bob who’d been singing stopped and then whistled,


‘’Jim, Ah been a thinkin’ ‘bout auto-mo-biles.’‘

Quiet surrounded, Jim would say nothing,

and Bob was waiting for Jim to say something.

But when Jim spoke, it came like a dare –

‘’Go ahead, Bob. Go get a new car.

But you know that the car will end all us Equus,

and definitely staunch up the ranching.

But go ahead, Bob, if such is your fancying.

Just wave on your way and say goodbye as you go,

for all will be gone, all this that you know.’‘


‘’Now Jim, you and the horses,

all joinin’ yer forces,

and furthermore, the nonsense

of with holdin’ yer voices,

whaal, yer all just actin’ like assess

and not what you’d suppose a horse is.’‘


Bob stopped, and he waited,

for his thoughts reached their stasis.

He’d probably thought his words had ablated

this issue with cars and further horse clashes.

But the cowboy’s logic was short on the stick,

and it wouldn’t stay down, just like a cowlick.


Bob push back his hat to the back of his head

and his oats then boiled up when the horse then said:

‘’Go on, bob, go get that car;

then we’ll all see how happy you are.

Just take a good gander

from here to off yonder,

all that you espy

is destined to die,

from the roads that you will drive on,

all this land will be gone.’‘


Bob looked around, from this talk of all dread,

then he lifted his hat and shook his forehead.

He halted, he paused, and more he then waited,

for he knew that all horses were plentifully vexed.


‘’Oh Bob, furthermore, do you then all you cowpokes can sit in one car?

Why, you’ll all fold your hats, or lose them in due course.’‘


Bob jump up high with a sudden surprise,

which startled the cows, and also their flies.

‘’What?’‘ he yelped from where he was at,

‘’Tain’t nobody out here’s gonna fold up this hat!

and I sure as heck hain’t gonna lose it!

Jim Dande, yer makin’ this silly stuff up,

if all of you horses are thinkin’ all that!

Ah’ll tell you right now, it’s all you know what.

It’s just a car, you know, an au-to-mo-bile;

the whole thang it runs on a silly round wheel.’‘


‘’Well then, Bob, if that’s what you believe,

then I’ll come right out and tell you,

you cowboys are naive.’‘


Then all went so quiet, and neither would speak.

And the quiet continued for darn near a week.


Whilst a week would roll by

without these two speaking,

and gives us a chance to explain

what those cowboys were eating,

and why relished the most

by these far-flung, free-living folk.

So follow me closely,

cause this is no joke,

what the cowboys would eat

would make most people choke!


Now out on the range,

way out in the West,

the cowboy ate jerky,

coupled with beans.

But their favorite dish

is really quite quirky,

but it’s all tied to a trick

that was really quite mean.


To expound on the cowboy’s

controversial taste

for a dish – dare it be called such! –

deemed by all others bovine waste,

comes from a story that I had once heard

sometime, somewhere way back out West.

Just who is its author, is anyone’s guess.

Caveat said, let’s get on with the rest.


Back in the old days, cowboys did drives,

with herds of exceptional size.

And the drives all had cooks,

to cook for the men

all their meals, which of course,

was exceptionally bland.

As this story goes, to halt all complainin’

a cook issued forth a tactful ultimatum.

The first hand caught complainin’

would do the explainin’

as to why the cook quit,

and the hand would then get

to be cook then thereafter –

no trick could be craftier.

And to spice up the pot,

this cook got real sly –

he’d snuck in some food,

but food it was not,

but a whole bunch of cow-pie pie!


When the time came for supper,

the cow hands all gathered;

each watched the other,

all one another.

But no one dare spoke; no one dared bother.

The silence resounded from the cook’s solemn curse,

for each was afraid, to be cook would be worse.

Then, one by one, in concerted cries,

with words that each would reiterate –

”Oh my! it’s cow-pie pie!

This is my fav-or-ite!

Mmm, cow-pie pie!”


So that story goes, and this is now why

For the cowboy, his favorite is cow-pie pie.

Whether it’s true, that they like it or not,

the answer’s unfounded and also unknown;

but that’s how I’d heard that tale so wrought,

and it’s come down today as traditionally sown.

And this story also adds

to why horses don’t talk:

they couldn’t hold their noses,

at the same time to walk.


Whilst Bob and Jim Dande

were still on the range,

maybe a week after Jim was estranged,

Bob was a-whistlin’ and singin’ some songs,

then suddenly was quiet,

as if somethin’ was wrong.

But Dande knew what was goin’ on,

for a cowboy can’t think while singin’ a song.


”Oh me, oh my!”

Bob let out his cry,

and announced that tonight

he’d have cow-pie pie.


”They’re back at the Bush,

and we’ll be back tonight.

I’ve got ‘em fresh picked

so’s they’ll be mighty ripe.”


Jim Dande shook his head,

and that was all he said.


Then! Suddenly!

There was a bolt of light;

a fierce storm came into sight.

It was growing so dark,

it was lookin’ like night.


‘’Oh No!  Oh my!’‘ cried Bob, in a startled surprise.

‘’This storm’s gonna ruin all my pies!’‘  he yelped

as he looked down to Dande.

‘’We need to make a fast break to the Bush, Dande!’‘


He rallied Jim Dande and they sallied forth –

‘’Com’ on’ Jim Dande; let us not dally!’‘


They galloped as fast as four legs can,

makin’ a bee-line for the Rio Grande.

And reachin’ the water,

Dande, he faltered –

no water for him!

he didn’t want to go in.

And quick as a bullet

Bob had leapt out of the saddle,

‘’Ah’ll do this mahself,

I know the dog-paddle.’‘


Out! Out! out to the river

Bob threw himself in

and commenced to thrashin’

and tryin’ to swim.


Halfway across, he was almost done in,

and he yelped back to Dande,

‘’Ah’m a goner, Jim!’‘


Halfway across, he’d suddenly found

he just couldn’t make it,

he was likely to drown.

Halfway across, he turned

and swam back,

for Bob took to water

like a wet gunny sack.


Bob threw himself down

on the dry Rio ground,

and commenced to bewailing his fate.

It’s the self one berates

that a horse just hates,

so Jim Dande took Bob to heart.

In the cowboy’s commotion,

to be sorry was part

of a horse’s benevolent devotion.


‘’You know there, Bob,’‘ began his friend,

a horse, to save face, must be brusque,

‘’there’s more on the land, back there with the herd,

and that’s just as good as two at the Bush.’‘


And Dande’s own words, to this day, are still ‘round

though some have it turned to the birds –

the Bush is still used, but slightly mis-used,

simply because of its sound.


So ends the story,

so that now you can see

that oft cited saying’s etymology.

It began with a horse named Dande.





Copyright © 2011 Marvin Loyd Welborn. All Rights Reserved.


  1. This has to be THE worst pun I ever read! and yes, I’m still pouting that I didn’t see it coming! Thanks for the laugh on a cloudy, ugly day!


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