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A Bush Ballad --Old Brown's Smart Mare

Updated: Jul 11, 2023

When Ossie died. the land he leased

For twenty years or more,

Reverted to the Crown’s control --

Which bureaucrats adore.

They planned to hold a lottery

A new lessee to find.

But first they had to clear the place

Of cattle left behind.

For years he’d let the stock run wild,

And let the saplings grow,

Till scrub was thick and dangerous,

Should stockmen dare to go.

Now long-horned cows, and steers like stags,

And bulls with shaggy hair,

And mad red eyes, and cocked-up tails,

Considered it their lair.

So now a big round-up was planned

To gather in the mob.

The sort of fun old-timers had,

And not a modern job.

Old Brown next door once leased the place,

And well he knew its’ land;

A canny man with horse and stock,

They asked him for a hand.

The young men came from far and near,

The ones who ached to ride

Through wilga and through brigalow.

That’s where the scrubbers hide.

There’s Frames and Turners from near Town,

And Buddens from upstream,

And Downes the Drover, old Brown’s friend,

Best horseman in the team.

And one more came, Jack Jones by name,

A new boy in the town.

He’d heard the tales of musters past,

And longed to run bulls down.

The locals brought their favourite nags,

And Brown, the soft at heart,

He leant the amateur a horse

So he could take a part.

Not just a horse, but Brown’s smart mare,

The best he’d ever bought.

She’d read bulls’ minds and make her moves,

Before her rider thought.

With Brown aboard, they made a team

No bullock could outwit.

Now Jones could leave it all to her,

All he must do was sit! The first few days, they rebuilt yards That had been let decay, While Brown explored the scrub and bush, His action plans to lay.

At last it came. They rose pre-dawn,

And saddled for the day,

And cantered off into the mist,

Like soldiers to the fray.

All day they rode and yelled and swore,

Through brigalow and swamps.

And stock-whips cracked like hail, and stung

On many hairy rumps.

And Jones, it seemed, he did quite well.

The smart mare kept him sound,

While others plunged through Brigalow,

He wisely went around.

But then he found a massive bull,

Half-hidden from his view,

Behind a clump of wilga trees

That near a fenceline grew.

But when Jones went, with shouts and yells,

To drive him from his hide,

The bull retreated through the clump

And out the other side!

Three times they went from side to side,

And Jones was getting hot.

The mare, with eagerness to help,

Was dancing on the spot.

The bull was cross at all the noise.

It stirred him to a rage.

At last he left his wilga nest

And dropped his head to charge.

The amateur, he froze with fright

Not knowing what to do.

But Brown’s smart mare, she had no doubts.

She turned and off she flew--

Towards the fence, while he clung on

With heels and knees and hands,

While on her tail, the horns and hooves

Came thundering on the sands.

She jumped the fence with room to spare,

And then she spun around.

But Jones’ damp hands had lost their grip –

He slid off to the ground.

The bull, frustrated, paced the fence

And roared, and threw up dust.

While Jones just leaned against a tree.

His dreams had all gone bust.

But Brown’s smart mare just drooped her head,

And rested from the sun,

And waited till the others came.

For Jones, his day was done.

Oh how they boasted afterwards

In all the bars in Town,

Of how they ran the scrubbers in

And pacified them down

Within the yards, with quiet cows,

They’d borrowed from Old Brown,

Dehorned the worst, then trucked them off,

To saleyards in the town.

But Jones, he never heard the last

Of how he fled away.

And how his horse, Old Brown’s smart mare

Had saved his skin that day.

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