[Transcript of interview with Pat Duncan, recorded as part of the Springfield-Greene County Library District's 2010 Big Read. For more information contact the Library at 417-883-5366 or visit us on the web.]

My name is John Rutherford and I am the host of the Recollections and Connections Project and today we’re talking on March 2, of 2010, with Pat Duncan.  Pat is here with me today and he wants to tell us a reminiscence about saddle breaking horses, so Pat take it away.

Well, saddle breaking horses is not practically the real title but it is how I broke a two-year-old Shetland pony that my grandfather gave me with the understanding that I break it to ride myself.  Ok, he brought it home, we unloaded it and we saddled it and he got me up in the saddle and he bucked me off almost immediately.  And over a period of two or three weeks that was the same routine.  Every time I would get in the saddle the horse would buck me off.  And this went on for time enough that my grandfather took pity on me and he said to me one day, if you will do what I tell you, I will tell you how to break that horse to where he doesn’t buck with you.  It’s a method that us old timers used to use a lot of the time, he says but it’s not exactly what you’re going to consider considerate of your pony but in any case you gotta’ do what I tell you.  Yes, I’ll do that, Pa.  And he said, tomorrow morning when you go out there I want you to saddle that horse.  And then go ahead and come back to the house and get ready and go on to school.  But when you leave the horse I want you to leave him tied to the snubbin' post with a halter.  Snubbin' post is a, was in that case, a telephone pole cut off short and in the center of our stump lot.  Ok, he said now when you do that I want you to get two sacks of sand and put all the sand in it that you can lift.  Ok, the horse is saddled, he’s snubbed up to the post, you take those two sacks of sand and dally 'em up onto your saddle horn on one side, go on the other side and dally 'em up on the other side, and you leave him stand there all day. Ok, this was on a Thursday, I think it was, and anyhow. come Friday morning I had done all of this and Friday I went to school, came back, and he said now then go out there and get that horse and lead him down to feed and then water him, and water him again whenever he acts like he could drink a little more.  Bring him back and tie him back to that snubbin' post and leave him there all night with those two sacks of sand on him.  And doing that, he said, it should break him to where he won’t feel like bucking when you do get on the saddle.  And sure enough, the next morning, the Saturday morning, went out there after nearly a full day of being tied to that snubbin' post, two sacks of sand on it, and he said now take him loose from the snubbin' post and take the halter off.  Put a pair of reins on him and get it set up to where you step in the saddle you’ll be able to take the reins and maneuver the horse.  As things would have it, and providence would show me, I stepped up into the saddle and the horse did not move.  He didn’t even bow his back a little bit.  And my grandfather said, now take the reins and rein him one way or the other, and if he acts like he might move go ahead and spur him to where he might move in that direction but you’ll be ready for it.  I did, and I spurred the horse, and he took three or four steps and he quit again.  And then do that again, turn him around, come back.  And did it three times like that, spur him up and he’d move three or four steps and then quit.  All right, then, he said, drop one of your sacks of sand off, loosen the dally and let it fall. Ok, spurred him around again, loosened the dally and let it fall on the other side.  Finally did all of that and he didn’t buck with me, in fact, he just stood there.  And he said, spur him up and get him to move.  We started movin’ he said get him into a trot; got him into a trot. Get him into a lope, make him run and make him follow your lead when you pull on the reins one way or the other.  Did all of that and he said, now then the test will come tomorrow morning when you go out and saddle him, which was a Sunday morning.  And if you get into the saddle and he doesn't buck, he's broke, and he never did buck with me after that.  And I rode him for, well, until I was 14 years old and was going to high school.  And, but he did have a bad habit.  Whenever I would go out and catch him, if I was barefooted, he would try to step on my feet.  If I had my boots on, he wouldn't try that.  I guess he knew it would cause me a lot of pain.  But anyhow he had his way of getting even with him for the abuse that I had gave him.  But I, my grandfather said I know that you thought at the beginning that that was being mean to the horse, and you may still feel that way, he says, but if you've got a chronic bucker, something that you can't ride just, you're not able to, or he's chronic to buck, cause they have some horses that they breed and train to be buckers, and those are what you see in the rodeos and stuff like that.  He said if you, they had ever did them the way that way that we did him, they would never have bucked when they were tried to be rode, because they was used to that weight being on them and they was already tired.  And that was my experience with breaking a saddle horse to ride, and Popcorn, by the way, was the name of that paint pony that I had.

Where was this?

It was in Old Glory, Texas and that is in Stonewall County, Texas and Stonewall, not Stonewall, yeah, Stonewall County and the county seat is Aspermont, Texas.  And, by the way, my grandfather lived to be 105 years old, quite well thought of in the family circles at least.  That is my story.

That is terrific!


That is terrific.

How long did it take to tell it?

Nine minutes, so just about perfect.

Well you said I had about 10 minutes,

That's just about perfect

And I've got several others that are about the same caliber only but not quite so interesting …


… as my horse breaking.

Ok, you've …

I've got a couple that's next door to be sexually adaptable but they're not sexual at all, …

Mm hmm, mm hmm

… but they've got a couple of sexual references in them.

Mm hmm

I don't know if I should try to go ahead and tell those or not.

It's up to you.


You've got about five minutes left.

Ok, five minutes.  My grandmother had a, was a member of a quilting party, met in somebody's house once a month, and then it went, come around the circle, you know, whoever had a quilt going would have it at the next meeting, on a monthly basis and over a period of months they built quilts.  They usually gave those away to some member of the group, or some known needy member, or ex-member, or just a friend that needed a quilt.  And this one Saturday they met there at my grandmother's house, lowered the quilting frame down out of the ceiling and the ladies all took chairs, straight backs, and whatever they could find around the house to sit in, and lined them up around that quilting frame.  In doing so they all went around the frame maybe 10 of them all the way around the frame and in the course of their conversation, it was on a Saturday and it was cold and I was stayin' in the house so I was listenin' to the stories that they told because they gossiped and tellin' stories and what have you as quilting parties do, and for some reason they got on the question of what do you do to get your husband to do what you want him to do.  Well, ok, and so it started round and one of the ladies said well, I always make him his favorite meal.  The next one said well, I deny him his favorite meal, if he won't do what I want him to do I just won't fix him what he loves to eat, and on around the table.  And one of the ladies said well, I deny him sex if he don't do what I want him to do.  And the next one said, well, I do that too and somebody else says well, sometimes I might have to do that.  Came around to my grandmother's time, by the way, her name was Ma'am, her real name was Ruth.  From the standpoint that she had so many kids and grandkids that called her, said to her always, "Yes, Ma'am", "No, Ma'am", "Please, Ma'am", and the niceties that they teach kids to do, that her name became Ma'am, in that in her obituary it didn't list her as Ruth.  It listed her as Ma'am Duncan.  Anyhow, that's beside the story.  It came her turn to say what she did to get my grandfather to do what she wanted him to do.  In doing this she said, by the way, they were Church of Christ people in that that was their chosen belief, and as most people know that a Church of Christ person will not say a curse word, or a bad word to begin with, at the expense of being, oh, what do they call it, damnation or something like that, but I'm not a Church of Christ so I don't know what the penalties are.  But anyhow, when it came her turn to say what she did to make my grandfather do what she wanted him to do, she cleared her voice and said, "I always try to make Mr. Duncan do as he damn well pleases."  And that was, oh, the word was blasphemy, and that was, she said that and that was the end of the conversation around the quilting table on that day.  Ok.

That is a good, that is just as good a story as the first one, for different reasons.  Man, you are, you are a fabulous …

Well, thank you for that

You reeled me right in, to be honest.

I've got another one that will take just about as long to tell it, maybe 3 or 4 minutes.

Ok, well we're right at 14 minutes, so we'll make an exception, here, go ahead.

Ok, this one has to do with my grandfather's sister, Frances Duncan who later married a fella' named Reed, Isaac Reed in Lampasas, Texas.  But anyhow, at this particular point in her age she was, had a job as a tripper.  And a tripper is nothin' more than a waitress that carries drinks from the bar to, makes trips out to the tables and back, and she was a cocktail waitress.  Ok, she was workin' at the Yellow Dog Saloon, in Waco, Texas.  This has all come to me, I never got to go to the Yellow Dog at all.  But anyhow, my grandfather, he told me this, and Frances was waiting tables and trippin' back and forth, and they had a piano player named Fingers Malone at the Yellow Dog Saloon, Waco, Texas.  I reiterate that because if anybody wanted to check it out I think the Yellow Dog Saloon in Waco is still there.  Maybe moved or changed locations or something, but it's still there, I'm told.  Anyhow, Frances was makin' these trips back and forth, the piano was playin' a lively tune, the cowboys was all hootin' and hollerin', hurrahin' around and kickin' their heels up.  And as she went down this one aisle, this one cowboy from the Ten X Ranch, by the way, so my grandfather says, kicked his heels up and kicked her right above the knee about where her garters were.  And it caused her to trip and fall.  As she fell she twisted and fell flat of her back, and at that particular instance the piano player quit playin'.  More or less dead silence, and as she hit the floor, she hit pretty solidly, and it caused her to pass gas.  And in doin' that she changed her name from Frances to Fanny for the rest of her life, that was my Aunt Franny.

That's wonderful! The story it's like I never would have thought that, the way, the way the story was going. It's like, that's terrific.

Yeah, well, it, like I said it has a sexual overtone but I can't say anything in apology for it because my grandfather told that story with pride and actually Fanny Reed became a well-respected lady over in Lampasas, Texas.  The Reed's had a ranch out from Lampasas.  And my grandfather was real proud of his sister.  I've got pictures of the two of them, they both look rougher than a bad dream, but as far as the way their parents is concerned, but you can imagine that story coming out of, about the two of them.  My grandfather never did say why he was in the Yellow Dog, or if he was, had anything to do with the drinkin' but he told that on his sister.  That's it.

All right.  Thank you, Pat.  I really appreciate your time taken today to share your memories of your family.


And, and particularly the horse story too.  I really appreciate that too, so thank you.


[Transcript of interview with Pat Duncan, recorded as part of the Springfield-Greene County Library District's 2010 Big Read. For more information contact the Library at 417-883-5366 or visit us on the web.]