Category Archives: Horse Stories

The Code of the West…

I was looking up guest ranches… from a tear sheet I took out of Cowboys and Indians Magazine.   Do you do that?  Tear out pages and revisit the topic when you have time to peruse?  I do it all the time.  I’ll tear out an ad with a great piece of furniture, or artwork, or advertisement for something interesting…

This month, I tore out a page on Dude Ranches.

As I was going through all the Dude Ranches, creating my wish list, I came across one Dude Ranch that stated they followed, “The Code of the West”.


So I looked that up.  (Original Article here.)

Here you go:

The Code of the West

“A man’s got to have a code, a creed to live by, no matter his job.” — John Wayne.

First chronicled by the famous western writer, Zane Grey, in his 1934 novel The Code of the West, no “written” code ever actually existed. However, the hardy pioneers who lived in the west were bound by these unwritten rules that centered on hospitality, fair play, loyalty, and respect for the land.

Ramon Adams, a Western historian, explained it best in his 1969 book, The Cowman and His Code of Ethics, saying, in part:

“Back in the days when the cowman with his herds made a new frontier, there was no law on the range. Lack of written law made it necessary for him to frame some of his own, thus developing a rule of behavior which became known as the “Code of the West.” These homespun laws, being merely a gentleman’s agreement to certain rules of conduct for survival, were never written into statutes, but were respected everywhere on the range.

Though the cowman might break every law of the territory, state and federal government, he took pride in upholding his own unwritten code. His failure to abide by it did not bring formal punishment, but the man who broke it became, more or less, a social outcast. His friends ‘hazed him into the cutbacks’ and he was subject to the punishment of the very code he had broken.”

Though the Code of the West was always unwritten, here is a “loose” list of some of the guidelines:

Don’t inquire into a person’s past. Take the measure of a man for what he is today.

Never steal another man’s horse. A horse thief pays with his life.

Defend yourself whenever necessary.

Look out for your own.

Remove your guns before sitting at the dining table.

Never order anything weaker than whiskey.

Don’t make a threat without expecting dire consequences.

Never pass anyone on the trail without saying “Howdy”.

When approaching someone from behind, give a loud greeting before you get within shooting range.

Don’t wave at a man on a horse, as it might spook the horse. A nod is the proper greeting.

After you pass someone on the trail, don’t look back at him.  It implies you don’t trust him.

Riding another man’s horse without his permission is nearly as bad as making love to his wife.  Never even bother another man’s horse.

Always fill your whiskey glass to the brim.

A cowboy doesn’t talk much; he saves his breath for breathing.

No matter how weary and hungry you are after a long day in the saddle, always tend to your horse’s needs before your own, and get your horse some feed before you eat.

Cuss all you want, but only around men, horses, and cows.

Complain about the cooking and you become the cook.

Always drink your whiskey with your gun hand, to show your friendly intentions.

Do not practice ingratitude.

A cowboy is pleasant even when out of sorts. Complaining is what quitters do, and cowboys hate quitters.

Always be courageous. Cowards aren’t tolerated in any outfit worth its salt.

A cowboy always helps someone in need, even a stranger or an enemy.

Never try on another man’s hat.

Be hospitable to strangers. Anyone who wanders in, including an enemy, is welcome at the dinner table. The same was true for riders who joined cowboys on the range.

Give your enemy a fighting chance.

Never wake another man by shaking or touching him, as he might wake suddenly and shoot you.

Real cowboys are modest.  A braggart who is “all gurgle and no guts” is not tolerated.

Be there for a friend when he needs you.

Drinking on duty is grounds for instant dismissal and blacklisting.

A cowboy is loyal to his “brand,” to his friends, and those he rides with.

Never shoot an unarmed or unwarned enemy. This was also known as “the rattlesnake code”: always warn before you strike. However, if a man was being stalked, this could be ignored.

Never shoot a woman no matter what.

Consideration for others is central to the code, such as: Don’t stir up dust around the chuckwagon, don’t wake up the wrong man for herd duty, etc.

Respect the land and the environment by not smoking in hazardous fire areas, disfiguring rocks, trees, or other natural areas.

Honesty is absolute – your word is your bond, a handshake is more binding than a contract.

Live by the Golden Rule.

“The Code of the West was a gentleman’s agreement to certain rules of conduct. It was never written into the statutes, but it was respected everywhere on the range. ” — Ramon F. Adams.

Compiled and edited by Kathy Weiser/Legends of America, updated September 2020

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Humble heroes risk lives to lead horses trapped in Australia floods to safety

A heartwarming story about the floods in Australia.  Original story here.

Leon Gray guides the tired horses to higher ground.(Supplied: Ann Biasol)

When fast-rising floodwater surrounded Ann Biasol’s home one of her first thoughts was for the safety of her horses.

Ms Biasol says State Emergency Service crews told her they couldn’t reach her, so she appealed to friends for help.

“When my house started to be impacted with absolutely all land around me under water, I knew I was to lose power, so I reached out,” she said.

She contacted friends Robyne English, a local, and Amanda Hancock, from the Sunshine Coast, who quickly hit social media to ask for help.

The horses were caught in rapidly rising floodwater.(Supplied: Ann Biasol)

“It was clear that no-one was going to Anny’s rescue, and we had lost all contact with her — with water levels rising and rain continuing,” Ms Hancock said.

“I said to myself: ‘Anny and her horses are not dying on our watch’.

Water surrounded Ann Biasol’s home along Maria River Road near Crescent Head.(Supplied: Ann Biasol)

“I put out a desperate plea requesting someone with local knowledge, a boat and experience with animals to help save Anny and her horses.”

Risky journey to high ground

Boats were used to guide the animals and also drop feed to higher ground.(Supplied: Phillip Aitkin)

Help first came in the form of local resident Phillip Aitkin, who launched a boat and set out to rescue Ms Biasol and her horses, Barney, Degrey and Navarre.

“Phillip definitely deserves a bravery award, because he risked his own life, going into unknown dangers with submerged fences and debris to rescue a stranger, Anny, and her horses,” Ms Hancock said.
Ms Biasol said it was a long and difficult journey to higher ground. Go direct to the source
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“The horses had to be swum and walked out three kilometres from my place to the highest mound,” Ms Biasol said.

“We got our first horse Barney out and we had to rest him on the way, he’s about 24, but he’s a tough old horse, but it took forever to get him out, he was pretty sore, pretty tired.

“There were a lot of dead cattle floating while we were trying to swim him out and there’s a lot of bull sharks around, so we were pretty concerned about that.”

Ann Bisaol says it was a long walk and swim for the horses.(Supplied: Ann Biasol

“It was different,” he said. “It’s not often you get to put the boat in on the main road.”

“We had power lines, fence lines, houses, shipping containers — all sorts of stuff floating down the river.

“I just said, ‘We’ll be right, we’ll get through this, but it’s going to take time.'”

Leon Gray saved many animals caught in the flood which caught many property owners by surprise.(Supplied: Leon Gray)

Other locals arrived to help, including part-time horse trainer, Leon Gray, who was out trying to save stock.

“The water came up really fast and caught a lot of people out. We saved and rescued a lot of animals,” Mr Gray said.

After many hours, when the eldest horse, Barney, became so exhausted he refused to move, Mr Gray, got into the water to help him through.

“He basically just cradled the horse’s head in his arms and swum him, with … the boat as well, and got him the final kilometre up onto the bank,” Ms Biasol said.
Mr Gray said he was just happy to help.

“Mainly it was just leading [Barney] and coaxing him along. He was pretty exhausted but we just had to get him to higher ground,” he said.  “It’s rewarding to see the relief on Anny’s face.

“She really loves her horses. She was so happy.

“I seem to have a bit of a way [with horses]  and that time it worked, anyway.

“I’ve been called a hero but I was just down there doing what I could do.”

Ms Biasol says after their ordeal the rescued horses were rested on higher ground and kept warm.(Supplied: Ann Biasol)

The following day, Ms Biasol’s other two horses were rescued, Mr Gray again leading them to safety.

“The other horses just refused to move,” Mr Gray said.

“So I got in and just rode one of them out and the other one followed and we rode them about three kilometres out of the floodwater, along with another horse who just followed along with us.”

Ms Biasol is happy to have her horses home and nursing them back to health.(Supplied: Ann Biasol)

The horses were cared for by a young family on the higher ground.

Ms Biasol said she was extremely grateful to the many people who helped.

“I just gave the horses big hugs … thanked everyone for the prayers. So many people were so behind the animals,” she said.

“I just got off that boat so quickly and went up [to the horses] and said, ‘You boys are so loved by so many … oh, my beautiful boys, you are safe.

“There’s a few new heroes in my life.”
Horses on path to recovery

Ms Biasol with one of her heroes, Phill Aitkin.  (Supplied: Ann Biasol)

A little more than a week later, the horses have returned home and are recovering from cuts and skin issues from prolonged exposure to the floodwater, which contained dead animals, sewerage and other contaminants.

Ms Biasol said they were in good spirits and eating well.

Mr Aitkin continues to help support the horses, now back at their home near Crescent Head.(Supplied: Ann Biasol)

“There’ s still a lot of sloughing on the skin and there’s a lot of raw skin still to come off from their tummies right down to their hooves.

“It’s everyday care and every day scrubbing for probably three hours a day … they are eating and drinking.

“At several points we’ve had the army drop medication off at the gate,” she said.

Women save more than a dozen horses

Hannah Grilli says they just grabbed the horses and hoped for the best.(ABC Mid North Coast: Wiriya Sati)

While the rescue was underway at Crescent Head, further south on the Mid North Coast young women who agist their horses on a Wauchope property saved their much-loved animals and about a dozen more.

They were looking after the property for the owner who was away and worked during the night and heavy rainfall.

“We had about half an hour to get the horses out and before you know it we were in hip deep water and [it was] very stressful,” Hannah Grilli said.
“We didn’t think the floodwaters would come up that high.

“We pretty much grabbed horses. Horses that hadn’t been ridden for a while, we just jumped on and hoped for the best … and just went along the road with some cars behind and in front of us and took them to the stables.”

Kiarra Cutter also worked through the night and heavy rain to save horses on a Wauchope property.(ABC Mid North Coast: Wiriya Sati)

Ms Grilli said the support of the community had been amazing.

“We have a great team now … we have had volunteers and even kids help,” she said.

“It’s just amazing how well the community can pull together in a time like this and just so quickly.”

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