Heroes, idols, mentors

Friday, Nov. 3, 2017 5:36 PM

Did you ever have an idol as a kid? Someone that looked and acted just like you hoped you would? I did, and I have the scars to prove it.

As the song says, my heroes have always been cowboys. Mine were a bunch of horse trader, beer-drinkin’ “ne’r-do-wells”.

Probably not quite as criminal as Martha Stewart, but running a close second.

Their favorite activity was to buy or trade for one of those cross-eyed, tip-of-one-ear-gone-from-frostbite horses with the social skills of an alligator with a sore tooth and bring it for me to ride.

It was a time when “men” didn’t shrink from a challenge. I wanted to be one, so I didn’t either. It was great!

They’d get the horse blindfolded or maybe a leg kinda tied up, or just mugged down. All I had to do was get on. They would turn loose and start looking for a safer place to be.

Sometimes the party would get started pretty quick. You would be amazed at how much you can see in a short period of time – horse, ground, sky, horse, ground, sky – all the while trying to make it look natural and pretty so they’d think I knew what I was doing.

There were some that just bucked me off, others that fell over backwards and some whose front legs would fold up and sent me flyin’ like a “breaker marble” out of a bear-killing slingshot.

Thankfully, there were those that didn’t buck me off, fall over backwards or try to bite my shirt off. When it got time to get off of one of these, it would be to thunderous applause from a group of men who, with the help of Adolph Coors, could no longer pronounce their own names.

Today they call it mentoring: a group of selfless people from all walks of life trying to show young people that it is possible to succeed in life. And by doing that, they are helping not only the young people but humanity as a whole.

While I wouldn’t trade for mine, neither would I recommend it.

Always check your cinch before you get on ....

Tom James was riding horses before he could walk. He currently hangs his hat in Ignacio. Reach him at