Pay Dirt Pete  
by Michael Charters  

Old Pay Dirt Pete he weren’t no treat
And his teeth was a-mighty wore.
He met each day that came his way
With a Gawdamighty snore.

He was black as coal and he had a hole
In his head where his brain had been,
And he wouldn’t come out of his stall until
He’d had his spoon of gin.

His withers were withered, his hocks were pocked,
And his mane was frayed and worn,
He looked like he hadn’t felt brush or comb
Since the day that he’d been born.

I rode him 'crost the dusty plain
Till my backside hit were sore.
I rode him through the snow and rain
And 'neath the thunder's roar.

He’d been a champeen not too long ago,
And had some trophies to show for hit,
Back in the days of the rodeo
His story it was writ.

Calf-ropin’ was his specialty,
And his food bin ‘as always full,
But he had a tussle and strained a muscle
In an argument with a bull.

So I bought him from the rodeo,
From a man named Cross-Eyed Jim
Who lived in a barn (Hit were quite a yarn!)
And who didn’t care much for him.

I notioned I’d put him to work on the place,
Make some jingle back that way,
But he stomped around and pawed the ground
And wouldn’t eat my hay.

Through cricks and cracks on muddy tracks
He maintained a meager pace,
While keeping a somewhat puzzled look
On his old and careworn face.

One early morn he trampled the corn,
And he kicked a hole in the water tank.
He pushed down the pole where the dinner bell tolled,
And he bit my mare on the flank.

Then he threw me down in the middle of town,
Right by the old feed store,
And he ate my hat, though as to that,
I'd had better ones before.

He just stopped one day on that hard red clay,
And he stood there like a tree.
His usefulness was over and done
As far as I could see.

We’d come to the end and I had to send
Him away (Hit were quite a chore),
And I thought I’d seen the last of him
For then and evermore.

He found a job with Outlaw Bob
To rob the Old Post Train,
But he stomped Black Pete, knocked him off his feet,
And caused him grief and pain.

In the fuss Bob said “I’ll shoot that cuss,”
And he yanked his pistols quick,
Though he changed his mind when he come to find
Pay Dirt was mighty sick.

Doc Saunders checked him out and found
Thrush, strangles and frostbite,
And a severe case of anhidrosis
That made him want to fight.

But linaments and stomach pills
Cured all his ills and more,
Though hoof, hip and knee, as all could see,
Were still a little sore.

They tried him out at the mill about
Two miles due west of town.
Hauling sacks of grain in the cold damp rain,
But he stumbled up and down.

Then he broke his chain and ate the grain,
And they had to let him go,
To a coot down at the liv’ry stable
Whose name was Careless Joe.

Now Careless Joe he was pretty slow,
And his mind didn’t work so well,
But the horse of course
Were a useful one as far as he could tell.

But he started a blaze, and the sorrels and bays
All broke out through the gate,
And another change of ownership
Was poor old Pay Dirt’s fate.

The foreman of a spread nearby
Took him on albeit he had his doubts,
And tried to use him to cut out steers
Though his riders were mainly louts.

Well, he crashed through a fence and the herd was dense,
And they scattered to hell and gone.
The cowpokes had a mighty fright and searched all night,
And didn’t sleep till dawn.

So they sold Pay Dirt with saddle and skirt
To a carter named No-nose Ned,
Who quickly passed him off for free
to a banker’s son called Fred.

But Fred didn’t cotton to a horse so set
In his ways that he wouldn’t go,
And though he tried and tried his best
No one would take him, so….

I took him back, and flung my tack
Across his bony flanks,
And he let me up and I said “Hup hup,”
And we scampered to the water tanks.

He was shorely sweet that Pay Dirt Pete,
He was gentle as a mouse,
And he made no sound as we rode around,
And went back to the old ranchhouse.

And ever since that surprising day,
Old Pay Dirt’s been my pal,
And he waits for me to come and see
Him in his own corral.

But sometimes he snorts and kicks his heels
and upends his bucket of food,
And if I go to ride him some, I know
He just isn’t in the mood.

© 2013 M. Charters, Sierra Madre, CA.