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Old Buck By C. E. “Rusty” Fryer

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

See this horse in this picture?

Man he was a cracker jack.

And say, friend, you were mounted

When you were on his back.


Just a range-bred cayuse,

No blue blood or pedigree.

A shaggy buckskin critter,

But horse enough for me.


For when it came to cuttin’ cattle,

He was lightning on his feet.

And at times he would keep you guessin’

If you were going to keep your seat.


And talk about a rope horse,

There wern’t no steer he couldn’t hold.

Around a bunch of doggies,

He was worth his weight in gold.


He was a tricky devil,

As cunning as a hound.

And if he could catch you nappin’,

He would plant you on the ground.


He knew every trail in the country,

And every ranch and town.

But too many years of roundup

Finally got him down.


He got so stiff and lame

That I knew we had to part.

So one fall I left him home,

And I guess it broke his heart.


For he stood out there in the pasture

With his head a-hanging low.

For he knew it was time for the roundup

And he knew he couldn’t go.


He kept a-looking sadder

And a getting powerful thin,

‘Till along about October

The old horse, he cashed in.


But the coyotes and the magpies

Didn’t polish those faithful bones.

For I drug him down in a wash

And covered him up with stones.


My eyes, they sort of blurred,

As I thought of the days on the plains,

And I wished him knee high in bunch grass

At rest on the final range.

Wyoming cowboy, ranch hand and camp cook Rusty Fryer composed this poem in the 1940s. It is reprinted from his book of poems called “The Spell of the West.” Rusty often worked for my dad building fence, baling hay and cooking the best grub in the country for a hungry crew.

While working, he often recited this and many other poems. Rusty also liked a drink or two, and at times, wetted his whistle for free after entertaining the local boys with his poems and sage advise. His writing often appeared in the hometown newspaper.

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