A DAY WITH
MATLOCK ROSE, THE MASTER
One weekend, I went up to Gainesville, Texas, to a Quarter Horse show. I thought the show started at 8 o’clock in the morning, when in fact, it started at 6:00 p.m. Well, I thought, “How do I kill a whole day in Gainesville?” I drove out to Matlock Rose’s ranch, found him in the barn and asked if I could unload my horses for a few hours to let them rest and drink. Being the very nice fellow that he was, he helped me unload and put them all in stalls.
I had a mare with me that had been giving me a few problems that he had noticed at a show or two and I had my Leo San gelding, Busy San, that he had broken and trained when he worked for G.B. Howell. I had bought Busy San from G. B. Howell when Matlock worked for him.
As we talked about horses, mine in particular, he asked me to saddle my mare and ride her for him, which I did. Matlock was the original “man of few words.” He told me to “get off that mare” and let him get on her. I bet he didn’t ride her for more than 15 minutes, if that long. Very quickly, Sissy Jinks knew she was in the hands of the master. She straightened her act out and that night she and I won one of our All Around trophies.
Next, he had me saddle Busy San. He watched me ride him for a few minutes and then told me to get off and he went in his tack room and came out with a different bridle with a very mild snaffle bit and a light weight rope nose band and tie down. Busy San had a super light mouth and nose and was prone to a lot of leaping and lunging. Matlock told me that I had to run barrels with a tie down, but only tight enough to just catch him if he lunged, otherwise he would fight me like a tiger.
That tall, lanky fellow stepped up on Busy and with the lightest hands I would ever see, took him out in the arena and calmly walked him around the barrels over and over, correcting him ever so
gently, never letting him get out of a walk. That horse just took a deep breath and relaxed like I had never seen before. That night when Busy and I went to the first barrel, he put his nose around that thing and almost left me in the dirt. I had never had him turn a barrel like he did that night… and we won the barrel race.
That was a day that I would never have had enough money to pay for, and this great horseman shared his knowledge and ability with me, just ’cause. It is a great memory. I witnessed an understanding…. the buzz word today is bonding…. between horse and rider that day that I could only wish for.
I never had, nor ever did, see anything like it again. It was nothing short of magic. Matlock Rose was absolutely one of the greatest horsemen that has ever walked or ridden a horse. He was whispering to horses long before anyone ever heard of “The Horse Whisperer.” I was fortunate to be able to call him my friend.