Not that it makes any difference, but these men just happened to be black. There were quite a few black men working as cowboys back in the early days, especially in Texas. Why in Texas? I really couldn't say, except that work was available, back breaking as it was. Good cowboys were always in demand.
Dubbed “the most noted Negro cowboy that ever topped off a horse,” Addison Jones was known for his skill at breaking (“topping off”) untrained wild broncos. That involved clinging on for dear life while the bronco bucked and tried to throw the rider off. As such, most cowboys retired from the job in their thirties. Addison kept at it until he was 70. It was said that he could “read a horse’s mind by staring it in the eye” and he was equally renowned at riding, roping, and cattle driving.
The historian J. Evetts Haley described one of Addison’s more impressive roping tricks: “He would tie a rope hard and fast around his hips, hem a horse up in the corner of a corral or in the open pasture, rope him around the neck as he went past at full speed, and where another man would have been dragged to death, Add would, by sheer will and power on the end of the rope, invariably flatten the horse out on the ground.”
A popular legend in Roswell, New Mexico claims that when Addison got married, all the local cattle ranches wanted to show their respects with a gift. Unfortunately, they all had the same gift idea and the newlyweds found themselves saddled with 19 cooking stoves. Not much else is known about Addison’s personal life, but his cattle skills were enough for him to be featured in a popular folk song of the time called “Whose Old Cow?” Sadly, the song’s description of Addison includes racial epithets and an unfortunate accent, so it naturally isn’t performed much anymore.
Now, breaking horses when in your 70s doesn't seem like a good way to retire, but I reckon we do what we have to do.
Coffee out on the patio this morning.