Adus F. Dorsey II
Dunc Taylor, Bliss Brinkerhoff, Lewis Blackburn and Dwight Williams got together one afternoon in 2015 at Dunc Taylor’s place in “Sunny Bick” to tell stories about the Blind Bridle Group.
The Blind Bridle Riders Group began in the spring of 1946; right after the Superfortress bomber Enola Gay Tibbetts dropped the A bomb that ended of World War II. It was during a time when Carlyle Baker and his brothers Lloyd and Gordon had some land and grazing rights down at Halls Creek, and eventually sold out to some Teasdale and Bicknell cowboys.
The old Hall’s Creek Baker Ranch was 1,300 acres and was the old, old Smith homestead from about the time that Moses parted the seas. When the Baker boys decided it was time to sell out, “you bought as much land and grazing permits as you had money for, so each of us Williams’ boys bought some, which was my brothers Orville, Dyle, my brother Reed and myself, I was sixteen at the time, and I got twenty five head of permit and forty acres of land. Then there was Charlie Snow Jr., Ernest Peterson, and in Bicknell there was Kay Taft, Don Taylor and Press Taylor, they all bought into the Baker ranch too,” recalls Dwight Williams…while Dunc Taylor, Bliss Brinkerhoff and Lewis Blackburn all bobbed their heads in unison to agree.
In a distinct Wayne County accent, if there ever was one, Dunc Taylor remembered how the Blind Bridle Riders got their name. “My father-in-law Charlie Snow in Teasdale had an old workhorse named of Joker and when he would leave home Joker would be in the field, and after Charlie was gone Joker would sneak his way into the stack yard. So ole Charlie decided he would just take old Joker with him when it was time to herd cows down to the desert.”
“So it was time to go move all these cows down to the desert and Charlie is all ready to go and goes out to get old Joker and all he had to ride him with was a blind bridle. So there we all were all geared up and ready to go and here comes old Charlie Snow riding old Joker with a blind bridle on, and that is how the Blind Bridle Riders got the name.” Dunc Taylor doubles over with a cough, smiled and chuckled deeply.
In its basic form the blind bridle is a bridle with blinders on it, in most cases for workhorses. The main purpose for the blind bridle is that a horse can see almost 360 degrees, which means they can see behind themselves by slightly turning their head to either side. “Without blinders, often times some horses get spooked by something off to the side or behind them, and there is nothing worse than to try and hold onto a plow and the reins of a runaway work horse at the same time,” coughs Dunc, as he takes another long swig from a Mountain Dew can.
“With a truck filled with grass hay and oats, it would take us seven days to trail all of our horses and cows from up at the Fish Creek Ranch, then on to the Halls Creek Ranch down near the Colorado River,” says Dwight. Back in those days the Blind Bridle riders would drive them old cows right down through the “gorge,” then in about the year sixty-three was when they put the highway in, after that it was pure luxury to go down that way.” says Dwight, grinning.
“We would always camp at Egg Nog down near Bull Frog in the old Riddle cabin. Just above the cabin there was water in a spring and all the cowboys and sheepherders called it Egg Nog because it tasted so good. We would never drink water from Bull Frog because it was just to mean of a drink. We always had a good saying down in that country; and it was that only water that came out of the red sandstone was any good, the rest of the water you just left alone. And if you didn’t you better keep one gallis (strap) of your overalls undone, if you did.”
“When we would go down there we did it as one big group, we would camp together, and cook together and if there was work to do, there might be twelve or thirteen fellas right there ready to do it.” grunted Bliss.
“One time we were out on Ticaboo and there were still these two old mules we hadn’t captured yet. It was towards evening one day and Lewis Blackburn and I were riding along and here are these two old mules ahead of us. So Lewy takes down his lariat and up the side hill he goes a chasing these two mules, just a swinging his rope, right up there just ready put this rope on that old mules head and all of a sudden his cinch broke. Lewy’s saddle and all come off that horse and down the hill they went,” Dwight says, and he rolls way back on the couch laughing.
Dwight’s mule story reminds Dunc of a time he and Ernest Peterson rode all the way down Ticaboo canyon as far as you could go down where Cass Hite and Burt Loper had places on the opposite sides of the river. And how he carried a raisin pie all the way down in there. “When they got down there, there was a little stream with the best tasting water that came right out of the Wingate, and all of a sudden out from some scrub oak come a damn sheep. Old Ernest Peterson tore into that sheep so fast and had it roped and I was off my horse with that raisin pie in one hand and a knife in the other as quick as I could. We had mutton and raisin pie for dinner, and that sheep was the most flavorful meat I have ever had, it was finger lickin good” said Dunc.
Lewis Blackburn remembers a film crew down in the desert one time when they building the road and he was down on the ground castrating a calf and someone called him Doc Blackburn and the name seemed to stick. There was some discussion about saving the oysters for dinner. Dunc pipes up from his recliner and said “I would be the first to duck out on dinner if they ever did.” Dwight says they were rather tender and tasted like right good chicken, Dunc said “he wouldn’t know, but he heard once the best way to cook ‘em was to split ‘em open, toss them in a frying pan and cook the piss right out of them.”
Then there was the time when Dwight, Lewis and Dunc and some other fellars went down to fence the “Pendel creek rough”. Dunc says “it was March 15thand it was cold, well we get down there and we fenced all day that day he and Bliss had a square crow bar and they rolled out 16 rolls of barbed wire on that square crow bar and ever time that roll of wire would go around it would about rattle your teeth right out, thump, thump, thump…” said Dunc.
Well night rolls around and come to find out Lewis forgot to bring his bed roll, Dunc then sits forward in his recliner and says, “I was sleeping in this double bed with plenty covers so Lewis climbed in, we slept pretty good that night” Dunc said.
And that’s just the way life “was”out on the range…