Throwing My Loop…
By: Michael Johnson
You ever see one? Ever know one? A horseman, I
mean. I have. I’ve seen one. There’s a good chance you
might see him somewhere too. At present, he’s riding a
big-boned sorrel with legs like tree trunks. If you do
see him, you will know immediately he’s the one you read
about in this article. From the back seat of the car, you
will hear your little ones say, “Look, momma, there’s a
real cowboy.” He will be wearing his hat pulled down
low, with a long duster hanging off the side of the
saddle. Looks like he’s right out of Australia - which he
is. His name is Joe Guy. And when I say riding, I’m not
kidding. He’s riding his horse across America!
He cuts quite a figure on
the shoulder of the highway riding along on the big red -
the horse he calls Moose. If you see Joe Guy, you
won’t forget him for some time. If you stop and talk
to him - or get to watch him work with a troubled horse –
you won’t forget him for the rest of your life.
Joe was born in Sydney. His dad left when he was eight or
so. His mom had difficulties – like all of us do from
time to time, and Joe was left to deal with life on his
on. A street - kid at ten, by his on admission, he
traveled down some dark paths. At seventeen, he made an
internal decision to change his ways for the better. Some
people do that. Some don’t. (Does anybody out there know
why that is?) Always drawn to horses, Joe waded in to his
passion and became a “long-rider.” He’s made the trek on
horseback across Australia twice. Now he’s making a trip
“Hello, mate,” began the message he left on my cell.
“I’ve heard about you. My name is Joe Guy and I’m ridin’
my horse across America. Would like to come by your farm
and visit. ‘Course, I might like to sleep in your barn as
well. Give me a call if you would.”
Who could resist a message like that?
found him and the big red on a service road a few miles
from our farm. My, they both looked the part. Both the
man and the horse were friendly and gracious, and our
visit began. Turned out to be the best of times.
swapped some songs around the fire. (He is a fine singer
and an even better lyricist.) Then he said, “Tell me
about your horses.” I explained that Shine and Blue had
been with me for years, and that Sherry and I were about
to start our three-year old colt – his name is Joe Ben
Black – and hoped to begin roping off him this summer.
“Well,” he said, “in that case, if you don’t mind, I’ll
hang around tomorrow morning and see how it goes.” I said
I would welcome the help. It was only after watching this
man work with my horse the next day that I realized how
much I meant those words.
After weeks of winter rain in our country, the Lord must
have felt sorry for me, (or maybe He was sick and tired of
my whining about cloudy days) so mercifully, He gave us
the most wonderful gift…a sunny day. As I watched the
Aussie work with young Joe Ben, I felt like I had moved
back in time - back to the time when cowboys first saw and
heard Tom Dorrance or Ray Hunt. Listening to and watching
Joe Guy, I saw with such clarity how certainty,
confidence, and knowledge in this man elicited remarkably
high cooperation from the horse in a very short time.
Joe doesn’t have horses jump over barrels nor does he have
“gimmicks” of any kind. He clearly states he is not a
horse whisperer. (Indeed, he snorts when you mention that
phrase.) And you won’t find Joe Guy milking you for money
by hiding information while promising more knowledge if
you just cough up more money for “the next level.” Rather
he is practical, straight to the point, and tells you the
truth…even if it stings a little.
“What’s the matter with you?” he asks, as I bring Joe Ben
into the round pen. He’s staring a hole in me.
“What?” I said.
“Your other horses respect you. Why do you let that colt
bump into you? He’s walking all over you. Why do you
allow him to do that and not the others?” he said, in a
bewildered tone. I laughed knowing he had found the “weak
link” in my chain.
prayed for a black horse for years,” I answered. “Almost
had him. Then a divorce. Then, because of grace, he came
back in my life. So…”
“So,” Joe interrupted, “you loved him so much, when he was
a little baby, you let him get up in the chair with you
when he was just a pup, didn’t you?”
“Yes,” I admitted.
“Well, mate,” he scolded, “your still doing that. All
that’s good and fine when he’s a baby, but it’s not so
cute when he’s weighs a thousand pounds, now is it?”
had to agree. For some time, I had been allowing Joe Ben
to get away with things I would never have tolerated in
Shine and Blue. For the rest of the day, we worked on
respect, ranking, communication, control, and eliciting
cooperation from the young colt. While Joe was firm, he
doesn’t believe in striking the horse - no physical
punishment of any kind. “Never,” he says. But he does
believe in working the mind of the horse.
“You can lounge (lunge) him all you want,” he says. “You
can lounge him for thirty minutes, then get on him and he
may still buck you off. It’s not his body that bucks you
off…it’s his mind! People will say, ‘Lope him
twenty miles. Wet saddle blankets are all he needs.’
That’s fine, and that will work – if you are a cowboy; if
you are a saddle-bronc rider. The problem is when the 45
year-old woman gets on him, it’s the first 100
yards…that’s when the horse will buck her off and break
her back.” The truth of those chilling words will cause
you to sit up and listen to Joe Guy like you have never
listened before. You just know…he’s speaking the truth.
only planned to stay for a day. When my friends saw what
he was doing with my horses, they began to bring theirs
and now Joe has stayed for four. This morning at the café
where the old cowboys gather, I witnessed a touching
sight. The men brought Joe gifts. One brought a
leather-bound Bible, another an exquisite knife. They
were trying to give something to Joe to repay him for what
he had given them…his knowledge.
You can see Joe’s book and DVDs at Joeguylongrider.com.
His book is called Living A Dream. After spending
time with this man, he’s given me a dream. Here it is…
want a young child to see me at a roping and to notice how
calm and willing my horse is - and how soft my hands are
on his reins. I want him to see me giving my horse water
at that roping, and to watch me loosen my saddle when not
competing. I want that child to notice that when I touch
my horse with my spur, it’s just that – only a touch, not
short, because of my time with Joe Guy, I want a child to
see how I treat my horse, and then turn to his mother and
say, “Look, momma…there’s a real cowboy.”
Michael heading for the great Sonny Gould
The Rowdy Cow Dog