NO SHORT CUTS TO GLORY is a new book by Ken Johnson that begins with the story of one of the great teams in the history of the American Quarter Horse. It is the story of the legendary Poco Bueno and his trainer Pine Johnson. Pine Johnson on Poco Bueno set the standard early on for power and athletic ability in the modern cutting horse. They were the team nobody wanted to see at a show--they were the team they had to beat and that was hard to do.
Pine Johnson and Poco Bueno have ridden off into the sunset and now we see the descendants of Poco Bueno that carry on the legacy.
I was born near Seymour in Baylor County in 1914 on October 14. It
seemed like right from the start, life was going to be a hard go for me.
The night I was born, it rained, and my father went to get the doctor
but the doctor’s car got stuck. My father had to pull him out with a
wagon team to even get him there. My folks lived about eight miles from
town. We left Seymour not long after I was born. Dad made his living
mostly buying and selling and trading in horses. His name is William
Welborn Johnson, but they called him Fox. A friend of his told me that
they always considered him as sly as a fox in the way he’d do things.
He said they never knew what he’d be doing next, and it would always
be done before you realized it was done. My earliest recollection is of
horses grazing on a stretch of green grass as we’d travel around the
country buying and selling everything from broncs to saddle horses.
Mother would drive a gentle team to the wagon, and we’d just camp out
with the herd. My father always took pride in selling a former customer
another horse. He’d always say, “Don’t take any man’s word about
a horse… find out for yourself.” There weren’t any fences then,
and you could drive just about anywhere you wanted to, and if you saw a
car, you would really look it over, because you didn’t see many of
them. It was still horse and buggy days. We traveled in two wagons.
After I got old enough to hold the lines to a team, Mother drove a wagon
in front of me and my team followed hers. In traveling around in the
wagon, we just went different places. I can remember Spur, Seymour,
Sweetwater, and quite a lot of things when I was four or five years old.
My mother’s name was Una Culbert. She was born in Coryell County. She
and her sisters were walking down the road, and they met my father
coming down the road in a buggy, and she told her sisters, “There’s
the man that I’m going to marry.” And sure enough, they ended up
getting married, and then they moved to Spur, Texas. I’m the second
child. I’ve got a sister older than I am. There were eleven of us
children. Mother was very afraid of horses, and she tried to instill her
fear in my four younger brothers and me. But of course, my father
wasn’t afraid to any of them. He would trade for a horse in one town,
and he couldn’t wait to see if it was gentle to ride. He would break
his broncs as we went from one town to another. You could camp nearly
anywhere then and usually close to a town, so we would camp where there
was a creek. My instructions from my mother were always to stay near the
wagon and not to go out where Dad was handling the horses because I
could get hurt. My father was a large, powerful man about six foot
three, weighing two hundred pounds. He would just rope a horse and put a
breaking hackamore on him and a stake rope, and he was so strong that he
could lead a bronc to a stake log. He always found a log or something
that he could tie his horses to that they could drag a little so that
they weren’t as apt to hurt themselves. If they got tangled up, they
could pull the log enough that they could get out of trouble. I would
always go around the wagon where I could watch him taking those horses
to the stake logs, and I would look forward to the day that I was strong
enough to handle one and could take one myself. But Mother didn’t want
any part of my being around those horses, and she did all she could to
keep me far away from them.
Excerpted from "No Shortcuts To Glory" by Ken Johnson. Copyright © 2015 by Ken Johnson. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Growing up as Pine Johnson’s son was a blessing and a curse. Ken was taught by one of the greatest horsemen ever, but the expectations were high. Because he was the son of Pine Johnson and he was expected to win. Ken Johnson was training professionally at the young age of ten. By the time he was in his teens, he thought that the great Pine Johnson had taught him all he needed to know, so he went out on his own. It only took him a couple of months of showing to realize how little he knew and how much he took for granted. So he went back home and started taking notes. This is where the idea for the book came into play. He also realized that it would be selfish of him to not share his Dads love for the Equine World
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