McWilliams: Mickey

The way they handle horses today is better. I can tell you for sure.

Knowing a horse is ready to ride before you get on is funner than gettin’ on to see if you are ready to ride the horse.

About being ready to ride – they say that by car it’s somewhere around 100 miles. From Pinedale in Wyoming to Rock Springs.

It’s high desert, but I don’t know why they even say that – everything in Wyoming is high.

There used to be an old guy that lived up in that country back when there wasn’t much out there but lots and lots of Wyoming and lots of sheep and lots of antelope and lots of horses. Even back in those days there was lots of cars around. But Mickey didn’t have one – so if he decided to go he saddled up and left.

Now this is where the lots of horses are ready to ride part starts.

Most stories, it seems, make the good things better and bad things get trimmed and polished to fit. But the people that knew this guy and told this story would not have lost any sleep over whether or not you believed he could ride into the desert on one horse and come out on the other side riding another.

I have personally been out in the country like that on some pretty good horse poopers myself. If you put a bridle with a bit, a sweat-soaked combination of pads, a saddle with new lumber in it to hold one if you got close enough to catch one with the one and only shot you’re gonna get. And then you get on with your boots and chaps and spurs, some kind of fowl weather wrap, a rope or two. And, of course, a hat with a wind-splitter crease on your horse. And you take off strong. The rocks and brush with the dust still in the otherwise clear as far as you can see air, you won’t need anyone cuttin’ notches in a stick to keep tally on the catch.

This same guy was also a lick-the-lead pencil artist. A keen eye and a real-life collection of visions to recall.

His artwork on the good paper of a cal- endar back was, and still is, a prize. If his visions became dull, it seemed it could be revived by peering at the light through the bottom of a shot glass. And it was not as common for a flush elbow buddy to re- ceive a political favor. One cold January morning, it was observed by a local con- noisseur offering at that Mickey and the bar. This was an opportunity to add to his collection after supplying the paper and pencil and having a chat with the barkeep. He went to mind someone else’s business, returning just before the mid-afternoon pinochle matches.

He was presented with a perfectly signed, vast, white, calendar back. When rudely, quizzed about what he was getting for his money, Mickey explained, that’s a white cow eating marshmallows in the snow!


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