27 Jun

A Western Hat And Tennis Shoes


When I was a young man, I heard the old adage that women used, “clothes make the man”; consequently, I tried to always dress well and look my best. The years have made dressing less important to me, but at one time, I looked pretty dang good.

I’ve always dressed in the Western Style, even though I received a lot of snickers in the Northeastern U.S. and in Europe, but I wasn’t going to slap my heritage in the face to look like someone else. The rudest thing I ever heard was from a couple of toughs in London who made a comment about wearing a chamber pot on the head. It took me several hours to figure out, through their thick accents, that they were talking about my Western hat.

It was just as well, I am slow to anger and rarely rise to the bait of insults; however, it is a remark I remember some twenty or so years later. The boys did show a bit of wit; although, they probably wondered at my reluctance to respond, it’s was just that I couldn’t understand their accents.

Another rude group was the waitresses in New Jersey. They seem to delight in mean remarks meant to criticize other people’s accents and dress. I thought it was strange behavior for people who depended on other people’s generosity for their livelihood. They liked to make an issue of my slow country accent and often asked the person I was with what I was saying or if I was alone they would ask for me to point to the meals on the menu.

I looked at them as recalcitrant horses and played along; relying on the premise that you need to take what a horse has to pass out, at least until you can out finesse or outsmart it. So I played along and endured the insults and ate in peace with measured dignity.

Now one of the most bizarre contradictions to this dressing rule was a trainer I met at Sportsman’s Park in Chicago during the late 70′s. They were actually running the spring meet at Hawthorn, the track next door, but he was stabled at Sportsman’s Park.

I received word to report to a job in a certain barn and walked into the barn at eight AM. I introduced myself to the foreman and he pointed out the trainer. This was a short heavyset man, working down the shed row like a groom. The whole situation seemed wrong. Small men are common on the track because they are often former jockeys and gallup boys that age and get heavier later in life. They usually just slip into another occupation and spend the rest of their lives at the track. I was six foot two and two hundred and ten pounds of muscle and bone back in those days and considered to be a big man. It’s true I towered over most of the race trackers, but off the track in Chicago, I was just an average sized guy wearing western clothes.

This trainer came out of the stall with a big grin, a western hat and white tennis shoes. As he walked toward me, I was wishing I was somewhere else. In those days, I had too much pride and I thought it was insulting to the Western way of life to wear an expensive Western hat with a pair of tennis shoes. These days, I wear a Western hat with tennis shoes until I finish work and then I put on my Western boots, even if it is just to drive home. But at that point in my life, I was a little more idealistic. Actually, most of the trainers I worked for were from big city race tracks and they accepted me for my skills and integrity. The guys didn’t wear the Western style unless they had some claim to authenticity, it was an unwritten rule of etiquette.

He was a friendly little guy and impressed upon me that I had come with good recommendations and the assurances that I could keep my mouth closed. Actually, I cultivated the fact that I could be trusted to take secrets to the grave and that I would never talk about another man’s horse. It is a good reputation to have; especially, in Chicago, where some of the owners and trainers might be involved with the underworld. Yes it’s true, I often worked for mob types, but they trusted me, not everyone was trustworthy when those C notes were waved under their nose. I was asked many times for inside information and learned that I could never trust the person asking me the questions. They also learned they might as well ask an oak tree or a granite boulder for information, for asking me was an exercise in futility.

I let the trainer do the talking as we walked down the shed row looking at some nice New York horseflesh, standing in the stalls. He had four horses that he was mainly concerned with, we ducked into a stall to look at the first one.

I looked at the horse and told him that it was a good looking horse and he replied that he was indeed a good looking horse, but more importantly, he was going to make us all rich. I thought it was a joke and smiled at the remark.

He wanted the teeth done that morning in case there were any impacted deciduous teeth and otherwise, he was to be lightly floated. That part was easy enough. He then critiqued the hooves and the legs and told me how he wanted the hooves trimmed and what kind of shoes he wanted nailed on. I was impressed, the man knew legs, feet, and shoeing: in fact, he knew them so well, I wondered if I might be in over my head,

He wanted to show me some more horses, but I said I wanted to get to work on this one while the information was still fresh. I walked out to the truck for my equipment and when I returned, I started following the directions very closely. The trainer would get down on his knees to study each hoof after I trimmed it and each shoe after I nailed it on; I felt like I was back at the university taking a practical exam. There were four horses that were a team effort between the two of us. I worked on about eight more, but the first four were the most important.

When I was done, he paid me in cash, but he held onto the money when he laid it in my hand and said, “When these four horses run, bet this money on the first one, then bet the winnings on the second one, then place it all on the third one, and then parley it on the fourth one.

I walked away thinking the man was a good horseman, but was certifiable. The odds against a streak of winners like that were astronomical, if you actually bet all four horses and they won, paying a decent price, you would score at least a hundred thousand. I was just glad to have my cash.

A week or two later, I received a message to report back to the barn. The trainer told me that everything was going well with the horses, but he needed a rider that could sit there and not be afraid to let the horse run his own race and not be playing games with the horses and the gambling.

I told him about a young boy from Montana that had nerve and wasn’t all that friendly with the other pinheads. He asked me to tell him to be there in the morning.

A few days later, the first horse ran and paid $64.00 for a $2.00 bet. I couldn’t believe it. The second horse ran and paid $45.00. I was in a state of shock. The third horse ran and paid $36.00. The betting public was starting to pay attention and they weren’t going to let him play these games all alone.

All this had transpired and I had yet to bet a dime on my inside information. I decided to bet the farm on the last one, I heard he was entered, but when I looked at the form, he was entered in a grade 1 stakes race for three year olds at the end of the meet. This was too much, no one cuts up races and plays the gamble at that level; besides, the horse was way over matched, the best three year olds in Chicago were in the race plus several ship ins were there from other states. The race had so many class horses you wouldn’t be able to find my friend’s horse with a search warrant.

He won by many lengths, while improving his position; actually, he set a new track record and received a call that afternoon to run in the Preakness.

The one chance I had in my career to become rich and I passed on it all; maybe, it was that Western hat and those white tennis shoes, who knows, but my preconceived ideas cost me a fortune.

The prestigious news channel CNN is planning to bring in psychics to find out what is happening with the economy and global finance. It seems the Fed Chairman is lost and bewildered when it comes to performing his job. Of course, when you are dishonest in your efforts to analyze the past, you are starting with a deficit. Tim Geithner is convinced the failed Obama policies of the past are the keys to the future and President Obama sees the future in Green Technology and the Green Jobs the technology that has virtually killed Spain’s economy and most of Europe.

Now these guys can fumble around like cub bears making love to a football and CNN can call in their psychics, but me personally, I’d rather have that little guy in tennis shoes wearing a Western hat.

About Skook

A professional horseman for over 40 years, Skook continues to work with horses. He is in an ongoing educational program, learning life's lessons from one of the world's greatest instructors, the horse. Skook has a personal website skooksjournal.com featuring his personal writings and historical novel type stories.
This entry was posted in American Exceptionalism, American Intelligence, Barack Obama, Baracks Broken Promises, Culture, Culture of Corruption, Deception and Lies, Dem eats Dem, Democrats Deserting Obama, Disasters, Economy, Education, Environment, Freedom, Humor, Marxism, Obamanomics, Personal, Politics, Profiling, WtF? and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Monday, June 27th, 2011 at 11:19 am

21 Responses to A Western Hat And Tennis Shoes

  1. johngalt says: 1

    Skooks, what a great way to state, “substance over style”. The one thing I love about your articles is that they all, invariably, tend to end up reinforcing the simple axioms of life. I cannot wait for the book of collected stories. Did I read, in another thread, that you need a proof-reader? As I’ve no doubt said to you before, I read upwards of close to a hundred books a year, and would be more than glad to help you out in getting them proof-read.

    Getting down to the content of your article, I’ve found, in my life so far, that a person’s initial appearance does not necessarily belie a competence regarding the job at hand. Many people have surprised me, or would have, if not for my understanding that appearance does not necessarily mean anything.

    Thanks for the article, Skooks. I always look forward to the next one.

  2. harp1034 says: 2

    Maybe the guy in the white tennis shoes knew the fix was in.

  3. Skookum says: 3

    Harp, if the Fix was in place, the guy would not have asked for a fearless jockey. Even when the Fix is in place, one hundred and ten pound men on 1200 pound horses at 45 miles per hour leaves a lot of room for errors and more “Fixes” fail than go through, even when the pinheads are doing their best to cut up races. Besides it is a serious felony and a new comer to the track is not likely to have the connections to make it work. In other words it is risky business at the best of times, but to assume that the fix could have worked four times in a row is beyond astronomical. This is from a guy who has worked more race tacks than I care to remember.

    The legacy of gambling is best summed up by the song House Of The Rising Sun. In the end all you have is a suitcase and a trunk. I have known hundreds of professional gamblers and the ones who were successful often slept in their Cadillacs for weeks at a time until they could make the next big score. Less than one percent ended up with a home that was paid for despite all the stories you hear. I think the song was about life in a brothel, but the conclusion is basically the same, life becomes a suitcase and a trunk; until you die alone in the arms of a nightmare.

  4. GaffaUK says: 4


    future in Green Technology and the Green Jobs the technology that has virtually killed Spain’s economy and most of Europe.

    I think you’ll find Spain and most of Europe’s economic woes stem from the GFC caused primarily by greedy US bankers, toxic loans and unbridled too lightly regulated capitalism. The west including the US is in a mess.

  5. Randy says: 5

    Silly Brit, Spain actually published a report lamenting spending so much of the tax dollars on renuable energy projects. The report said that for every job the government created, the private sector lost 2 jobs. The people with those 2 jobs use to be the tax payers.

  6. MataHarley says: 6

    Gaffa: I think you’ll find Spain and most of Europe’s economic woes stem from the GFC caused primarily by greedy US bankers, toxic loans and unbridled too lightly regulated capitalism.

    Suggest you read my post from Jan 2010, including the fiscal study of Spain’s alternative energy joke, before you comment further, Gaffa.

  7. jlfintx says: 7

    Skook, I have a special request. Can you do a expose sometime on the differences between, behavior of, and your experience with horses vs. feral horses, donkeys and mules?

    I was noticing that amongst these creatures China seems to have far above any other country these animals in number.

    So does not not mean that going back to a less techno type war, they would have an advantage?

  8. jlfintx says: 8

    Just one other request Skook. Do you favor a gelding or mare, stallion or what as your favorite horse?

  9. Skookum says: 9

    jlfintx: I have studied the greatest cavalry officer this country ever produced or perhaps the world, Nathan Bedford Forrest. His tactics and the values he placed on the different animals was very interesting.

    We must remember the riding horse was a loss of potential horsepower. It carried a rider and and 20 to 30 pounds of gear. A pack horse could manage 140 lbs of dead weight for 20 to 60 miles a day depending on the terrain. It was still a major loss of potential horsepower; especially, when you consider a horse and wagon could easily handle a half ton or more of supplies. Although Forrest traveled with his men on horseback, the strength of his army depended on his ability to pack supplies with wagons. The mule could withstand harsher conditions and handle more work.

    Each artillery piece required four to six horses, plus another four horse hitch to pull the caissons with powder and shot. Artillery was a very expensive commodity.

    Another aspect was finding feed each night for all the stock. Hundreds or thousands of animals will each eat thirty pounds of food a night. They could deplete the average farm in a day or two, so the feed contributed to the cost and problems of maintaining large groups of equines.

    In my opinion, we would be in a tough situation if we had to revert to a low tech war; since the skills have been lost and there is not the vast numbers of hard seasoned animals trained for the rigors of campaigning. Most of the animals of North America are hot house flowers and would die like flies under the conditions of the Napoleonic Wars, our Civil War, or the Boer War. True enough some of them are raw hide tough, but our horses have become a game for women and silliness, rather than a means of serious transportation, work, and war.

    My horse of choice would be a mare. The stallion is usually only bold when he is in the breeding mode or fighting for mares; otherwise they are a bit sissified and too worried about getting injured or hurt. There are always exceptions, but that seems to be the general rule. The geldings often run out of drive and energy too early and can be overly lazy. The mare is the real natural animal, strong and bold without the breeding craziness of the stallions. Most people don’t want to deal with their temper tantrums if they feel they aren’t getting a square deal, but most mares will offer their life for you if you are close to them. You must be careful not to push them to that point since it wastes a good loyal horse. I love mares and most of my horses have been mares.

    I will think about a story with the personalities and capabilities of horses as part of the story. Sounds like fun to me.

  10. anticsrocks says: 10

    Skookum, you continue to shine and I thoroughly enjoy reading your efforts for they are well worth it. You have hit the nail on the head when it comes to, as JG said – “substance over style.” That is something that Obama would know nothing about.

    Good read!!

  11. jlfintx says: 11

    Thanks Skook. Your writing never disappoints.

    I figured you as a mare rider since the Mare is the leader of the herd. Just saw that when reading a bit and was surprised that the stallion is not the leader of the herd but the alpha-Mare is. If true, since Wiki is not always correct?

    I have not spent much time blogging or reading as I am in one of those valleys and have been for quite a while.

  12. harp1034 says: 12

    @Skookum: Thank You for your input. I am not a gambling man and have never been to the horse races in my life. Your input was helpful. Thanks again.

  13. Wordsmith says: 13


    Getting down to the content of your article, I’ve found, in my life so far, that a person’s initial appearance does not necessarily belie a competence regarding the job at hand. Many people have surprised me, or would have, if not for my understanding that appearance does not necessarily mean anything.

    While this definitely holds true and looks are always deceiving, there is also something else to be said about “putting on appearances” to influence perception in the direction you wish to go in; not just by accidental dress.

    I have a friend who generates crowds for Fortune 500 companies and he always dresses in a suit and tie pretty much everywhere he goes. People simply treat you differently when you look like a man of importance and affluence- even if you’re not. Walk into a restaurant, and you’re likely to get better service.

    And this is how we gained an empty suit in the White House…

  14. Liberal1 (objectivity) says: 14

    Whether or not CNN is ‘prestigious’ is debatable. And if they are going to bring in psychics to solve the economic problems, sounds like publicity, to me. And I suspect like the statement that “Green Jobs the technology that has virtually killed Spain’s economy and most of Europe”, is just plain false–but I’m sure some on this site will believe it.

  15. johngalt says: 15

    @Liberal1 (objectivity):

    And I suspect like the statement that “Green Jobs the technology that has virtually killed Spain’s economy and most of Europe”, is just plain false


    Job Losses From Obama Green Stimulus Foreseen in Spanish Study
    By Gianluca Baratti – March 27, 2009 07:58 EDT

    March 27 (Bloomberg) — Subsidizing renewable energy in the U.S. may destroy two jobs for every one created if Spain’s experience with windmills and solar farms is any guide.


    Do green jobs cannibalize other jobs?

    But a new study of Spain’s renewable energy initiatives has found that creating green jobs actually destroys jobs in other sectors — and most of the time doesn’t lead to permanent employment.


    Spain’s experience with the ‘green’ economy: Save the planet, lose some jobs

    The Spanish professor is puzzled. Why, Gabriel Calzada wonders, is the U.S. president recommending that America emulate the Spanish model for creating “green jobs” in “alternative energy” even though Spain’s unemployment rate is 18.1 percent — more than double the European Union average — partly because of spending on such jobs?


    Now, while it takes a leap to link “green jobs” programs to being the main cause of Europe’s economic woes, it is undeniable that those “green jobs” programs killed a lot of jobs there. And, as we keep pointing out, sooner or later you run out of other people’s money, so the loss of jobs overall, in Spain due to the “green jobs” programs, just sends one into that situation sooner, rather than later.

    What is interesting, is that despite your chosen name you post under here, you sure aren’t very objective when thinking up what to post.

  16. Skookum says: 16

    Lib. I am sure CNN feels that their audience is naive enough to swallow the swill they offer, believing in psychics isn’t that big of a stretch.

    The fact that Spain’s government report stated that every Green Job phased out two conventional jobs is measured as Progressive among the Obamanation; however, like most Socialist policies, it only lasts until you run out of money.

    Read about the Greek Socialists who are saying they don’t want those German Euros if they must accept austerity measures; unfortunately, they haven’t figured out who is going to pay their Socialist butts without those German Euros and Obama dollars.

    Socialists doing what they are best at, rioting and extorting someone else for money, because they deserve it.

    CNN being prestigious was sarcasm; after all, how prestigious can a propaganda bureau be?

  17. jlfintx says: 17

    May I interject a few pennies on this Green Energy a bit?

    First of all if the liberals want to push Renewable Energy, they will have to concede a ton in lost tax revenue. Let me explain:

    The government subsidizes the purchase of a solar energy system to the tune of either 30% of cost in either Cash Grant (and if in a rural area, the USDA also kicks in up to another 25%) or a 30% ITC on the invoice cost. So, say you have a system costing 1 million. What does the purchaser get besides the 30% ITC or Cash grant?

    Well, they get to write off 85% of the cost via bonus depreciation, since only 50% of the ITC or Cash Grant reduces the actual tax depreciable cost of the system. Since 30% times 50% equal 15%, they still get a bonus depreciation deduction (the new 100% bonus that Obama threw in to the extended Bush tax cuts) of $850,000 in addition to the Cash Grant or Investment Tax Credit. So for a 1 million dollar system, the purchaser gets a write off of 1.8 million (for the purchaser taking the ITC instead of the Cash Grant). The ITC is a TAX CREDIT. So the ITC (of $300,000 on a 1 million dollar purchase) is going to offset $300,000 divided by the person’s marginal tax rate, let’s say that person has a marginal tax rate of 30%. That is an offset of $1,000,000 of taxable income, then they get an additional $850,000 deduction for the taxable depreciable basis.

    If they cannot use the ITC, they can carry it forward for 20 years as well. Also, if this purchase generates a loss, they can consider an NOL carryforward and possibly a carryback.

    So my messy way of saying is that for a purchase of $1,000,000, the taxpayer/purchaser writes-off $1,850,000 or offsets that much in taxable income. In addition, this does not take into account the value of the energy in addition to the RECS which is still an evolving market, but SRECS were selling in NJ a couple years ago for $800 per REC.

    The seller of renewable energy artificially hikes the price up since there is a greater rate of return for each dollar that cost goes up, and the purchaser has no problem with the cost going up.

    If you want to see smoke and mirrors at work, look into the renewable energy industry.

  18. jlfintx says: 18

    SREC is a Solar Renewable Energy Credit, which is a 2 for 1 return compared to the Wind REC. The REC is determined by each state saying how much of the Renewable Energy has to be purchased by each state’s utility companies. The feds are trying to make this a nationwide deal with the RPS (Renewable Portfolio Standard). Then each state will have to regulate how much energy comes from Renewable Energy such as Wind or Solar, etc. For instance, Texas is mandating 1.5mW by 2015 come from Solar. For the shortages that the utilities have, they have to pay for the RECS/SRECS to cover the shortfall.

    CAP and TRADE you say! It’s too bad that solar or wind energy only create a fraction of what the traditional energy sources do.

  19. GaffaUK says: 19

    1. The report regarding Spain’s green job losses is here debunked

    2. The above is small fry to what is wrecking Europe’s economy. You could argue it is symptomatic of overspending etc but it in itself is not what caused the issue. To pretend otherwise is laughable. As someone who supports neo-liberal economics I only wish such neo-liberal and fiscally conservatives actual put their money where their mouth is and actually balance their budgets rather than live on cheap credit and rack up debts. It doesn’t surprise me when socialists run up bills – but over the last 30yrs despite their rhetoric such figures as Reagan, Thatcher and Dubya couldn’t balance the budgets of their countries and letthe rot deepen. How can a superpower like the US owe so much to China? In the UK treasurer Ken Clarke balanced the budget and Clinton and Newt G did it in the US in the late 90s. Only to have it blown away by reckless spending by Blair/Brown and Dubya/Obama. They also were asleep at the wheel concerning the toxic loans the banks were cooking up. Europe like the US got too comfortable and spent decades overspending so when the next recession did come it made things that much worst. Very little to do with green jobs.

  20. MataHarley says: 20

    Greg: The report regarding Spain’s green job losses is here debunked

    No there’s a laugh…. the Spanish govt sends on a letter, tut tutting the report in times when unemployment as risen to 20%. Oh, but the spending on the green energy just *can’t* have any portion of effect on that, can it?

    What would you expect the Spanish government to say? That they were FUBAR? Yeah… right. About the time that Congress would cop to their decades of bad welfare policies, and ponzi schemes, leading us to this moment.

    Secondly, the effect of the green program on business cannot be debunked because enough time has not gone by to yield those effects.

    The only thing debunked here is you… and a false counter that doesn’t match the reports long term results.

  21. johngalt says: 21


    You could argue it is symptomatic of overspending etc but it in itself is not what caused the issue.

    The most truthful statement within your post. And it’s not just symptomatic of overspending, but of the liberal/progressive philosophy too. It assumes that a central planning agency can force such things as “a good economy”. It assumes that academics, many of whom have never actually started or run a business, know more about how to run a business, and by extension, the economy, than the multitude of successful business owners and managers. And it assumes that the central planning agency, in this case the federal government, knows better how to spend your money than you do. Hence, they hand down edicts and directives, resulting in negative consequences, that need more edicts and directives to address, which result in more negative consequences, and on, and on, and on.

    Also, in your comments, you praise Clinton and Newt, for actually doing something close to balancing the budget(you should really read more on this as it didn’t actually happen), yet when you demonize the other Presidents, you fail to mention the complicity of the congressional leadership. Presidents don’t make the budget, Gaffa, they only make requests to the house. Congress makes and approves the budgets, then sends it to the President for a signature. Your comments, concerning the deficits and debt and the responsible parties is intellectually dishonest.


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