Richard Miller was a great friend of my grandfather. He called him up one day and asked him if he had any roping calves at the ranch. “Why sure, ” came the reply and Richard filled J.M. in on what he needed.
He was looking to purchase a new calf roping horse and needed a place to try him. Well, J.M. and Richard roped together all of the time and so this was no special occasion. He told him to just come on and that he’d see him when he got there.
Richard, J.M. and his father, John J. were having a typical truck bed conversation when the fella with the horse showed up. He got stopped, walked back to the trailer and untied the blood bay and backed him out. He was a good looking heavy-set quarter horse. Richard was pleased, but John J. let him know that that horse didn’t look like he could run.
Well, they got the introductions and pleasantries out of the way and headed toward the arena. Richard mounted up and got warmed up while J.M. got some calves ready for him.
Richard backed the bay into the box and nodded his head and off they went. He and that stud rode right up in the middle of him and made a hellofa run about half way down the pen. After he got his calf untied, Richard walked back toward the box and called out to my grandfather, “You got some fast ones in there John?”
“Yea, but you ain’t gonna catch him, ” he called back only half joking. This little crossbred could drift across there and he had to go half way to catch the last one. Well, that wasn’t going to deter Mr. Miller. He backed into the box again, nodded and the dirt went flying. A streak of brendel went drifting down the arena and when Richard got to the other end, he brought her back this way. That little heifer had her tail up and was rollin on back toward the calf roping box that Richard had just left when he finally caught up to her. He roped her and tied her down, but that was it.
He stepped off, loosened both cinches, and walked back to where J.M. had been turning out for him. Only roping two calves is not even close to a normal session with Richard.
“What are you doing, ” asked J.M.
“Hell, I’m taking him back. He’s a nice horse, but he’s not gonna do me any good, ” came the reply from Richard.
And that was the last time they saw old King. That’s right, Mr. Hankins over in Rocksprings bought the horse not even a month or two after that day. He went on to be one of the cornerstone sires for the AQHA. A legend.
So was Richard so disciplined and focused that he new a horse like that wouldn’t fit his program? Or did he miss the opportunity to diversify his horse business into the realms of breeding with one of the greatest sires of all time?
We’ll never know if he saw what that horse could’ve been. I sure would have loved to have been there. One of the all time leading producers of running quarter horses . . . couldn’t run a lick himself. You can only find that kind of irony in the horse business.
This story was recently relayed to me by my grandfather, but today’s gospel reading reminded me to share it. Jesus is filling Nicodemus in on what he could be. Nicodemus saw himself as the calf horse that couldn’t out run old grandpa, but Christ saw him as He made him. Worldclass. Born again of the spirit . . . and poised for greatness.