By Tom Walker
witsendmagazineI don't have much to say about Doug Jones' stunning upset of Roy Moore in the Alabama’s race for the U.S. Senate on Tuesday. There's a lot to say about the Democrat’s defeat of the Republican in the solid-red state, of course, but other people are saying it much better than I can.
Certainly, Moore’s judicial record and beliefs, and the allegations that he pursued sexual relationships with teenage girls when he was in his 30s, should have disqualified him in most places where people were voting.
But there’s one thing I can add to that: Roy Moore doesn't know how to ride a horse.
He showed up at his polling place on Tuesday riding a pretty little painted pony named Sassy. That was a dramatic entrance, to be sure. But what I noticed was the way he was riding, holding the loose reins in both hands. I grew up on a real cattle ranch, and I know that's not the way the cowboys I knew handled the reins on their horses.
Moore was using a “plough” form of reining usually seen in English style riding. But he was decked out like someone on a cattle drive, with a black hat and jacket, and he was sitting like a sack of potatoes on a western style saddle. He was a mixed message on horseback.
The cowboys I grew up with rode western style, with the reins held in one hand. “Rommel” reins are attached at the ends. “Gaming” or “rodeo” reins are shorter than rommel or split reins and are one piece, from one side of the bridle’s bit to the other. The reins are shorter so there’s less chance of hands or legs getting tangled in the reins. Gaming reins are the ones we used.
Traditionally, western-style reins are held in the left hand, because that leaves the cowboy’s dominant hand (usually the right) free to rope, shoot rattlesnakes, or fetch a bite of jerky out of a chaps pocket.
But doing stuff like jerking the reins from one side to the other the way Moore was doing makes your horse act the way his ride was doing -- like it's going crazy. I'm sure Moore wanted to make us believe he was controlling a half-wild mount, but what it really told me was he was a perfect example of a dude: "all hat and no cattle."
I just wish sweet little Sassy had bucked him off the way Alabama voters did that day.