An Exceptional Man and an Inspiration: Theodore Roosevelt II

I was telling you about the spectacular life of Theodore Roosevelt, and had got to the point when due to personal tragedy, he left his former life behind and moved to what was left of the Wild West, and bought two ranches. Lets continue…..

~~ He’d outfitted himself with the best “Western” outfit money could buy back in New York, and off course he appeared to the locals to be a wealthy New York dandy. By now he was wearing glasses, and he took a lot of teasing over them; the sobriquet “Four Eyes” seemed destined to stick.

Until the night he found himself far from his Elkhorn Ranch and decided to rent a room at Nolan’s Hotel in Mingusville, on the west bank of the Beaver River. After dinner he went down to the bar – it was the only gathering point in the entire town – and right after Roosevelt arrived, a huge drunk entered, causing a ruckus, shooting off his six-gun, and making himself generally obnoxious. When he saw Roosevelt, he announced that “Four Eyes” would buy drinks for everyone in the bar – or else. Roosevelt, who wasn’t looking for a fight, tried to mollify him, but the drunk was having none of it. He insisted that the effete dandy put his dukes and defend himself.

“Well, if I’ve got to, I’ve got to,” muttered Roosevelt, getting up from the chair.

The bully took one swing. The boxer from Harvard ducked and bent the drunk in half with a one-two combination to the belly, and then caught him flush on the jaw. He kept pummeling the drunk until the man was out cold, and then, with a little help from the appreciative onlookers, he carried the unconscious man to a outhouse behind the hotel and deposited him there for the night.

He was never “Four Eyes” again.

The dude from New York didn’t limit himself to human bullies. No horse could scare him either.

During the roundup of 1884, he and his companions encountered a horse only known as “The Devil.” He earned his name throwing one cowboy after another, and was generally considered to be the meanest horse in the badlands. Finally Roosevelt decided to match his wills and skills against the stallion, and all the cowboys gathered around the corral to watch the New Yorker get his comeuppance – and indeed, The Devil soon bucked him off.

Roosevelt got on again. And got bucked off again.

According to one observer, “With almost every other jump, we would see twelve acres of bottom land between Roosevelt and the saddle.” The Devil sent him flying a third and then a fourth time.

But Roosevelt wasn’t about to quit. The Devil couldn’t throw him a fifth time, and before long Roosevelt had him behaving “as meek as a rabbit”, according to the same observer.

The next year there was an even wilder horse. The local cowboys knew him simply as “The Killer,” but Roosevelt decided he was going to tame him, and a tame horse needed a better name than that, so he dubbed him “Ben Baxter.” The cowboys, even those who had seen him break The Devil, urged him to keep away from The Killer, to have the horse destroyed. Roosevelt paid them no attention.

He tossed a blanket over Ben Baxter’s head to keep him calm while putting on the saddle, an operation that was usually life-threatening in itself. Then he tightened the cinch, climbed onto the horse, and removed the blanket. And two seconds later Roosevelt was sprawling in the dirt of the corral.

A minute later, he was back in the saddle.

Five seconds later, he was flying through the air again, to land with a bone-jarring thud!

They kept at it most of the afternoon, Roosevelt climbing back on every time he was thrown, and finally the fight was all gone from Ben Baxter. Roosevelt had broken his shoulder during one of the spills, but it hadn’t kept him from mastering the horse. He kept Ben Baxter, and from that day foward “The Killer” became the gentlest horse on his ranch.

Is it any wonder that he never backed down from a political battle?

Having done everything else one could do in the badlands, Roosevelt became a deputy sheriff. And in March of 1886, he found out that it meant a little more than rounding up the town drunks on a Saturday night. It seems that a …..

To be continued….


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