Cowboy was His Name

John Freese 6

Earlier this week, a great cowboy passed away.  John Freese was the closest thing to a real cowboy that I have ever known.  John was loved by so many, which was so evident at the beginning of May when I attended the benefit they had for John in his hometown of Raymond, Iowa.  It was a who’s who of all the best horseman and cowboys from the state of Iowa.  There were so many people and they were all there for one reason, to pay tribute to John and say their goodbyes.  Now, two days from now, many of those same people will be gathering again to celebrate John’s life in the company of so many lives that have been touched by John.

John Freese 3I don’t remember ever meeting John for the first time.  I have known him as long as I have had any memories.  He has been a friend of my family’s since long before I was born.  He was just always there.  He has always shoed all the horses at the Triple JJJ Farm.  For me personally, it was my two horses Doc and Pearl, who have had John work on their feet almost their entire lives.

John Freese 7I used to love it when John would come to the farm to work on the horses.  We would gather in the barn and he would always tell stories as he was trimming and shoeing the horses and that made the time go so quickly.  He loved to recall stories of when I was just a little boy and all the grief I caused my Grandma Rose and Mom.  He would talk of the latest news in the community and he always had a good joke to tell.  He would smile his characteristic smile, even though it was hard to see fully with his full cowboy mustache.  I would talk to him about things I was doing with the training of my horses and he would always be willing to share any advice or insight he had that would help me in my efforts.  I appreciated that so much.

I can remember coming home one summer after going through a farrier rotation at vet school and being out there in the barn with John.  Instead of just plowing through and getting the job done and moving on to the next place, he took the time to let me try to trim the horses feet myself, while he was right there to help me every step of the way.  It was like learning from the master himself.  It was not until that moment that I fully appreciated the difficulty of the job that John did day after day of his life.  He made it look so very easy.

My head is filled with memories of showing in the Black Hawk Creek Saddle Club at the Silver Spur Arena and the 4-H Fair at the Cattle Congress grounds.  With each of those fond memories, John was there.  John gave freely of his time to help others.  If you had any interest in horses at all, John was there to help you.

The common bond that we shared, that brought us together wasJohn Freese 8 horses.  We both loved horses.  Horses and humans have had close relationships for thousands of years.  In many ways we are like horses.  God takes care of us in a similar way that we take care of our horses.  We feed them, water them, and we love them.  A horse, however, in relation to God is different from any of the other animals we might love and take care of.

You see, we ride our horses.  Not only do we ride a horse, but we’re also guiding and leading it to wherever it is that the horse may go.  If we direct our horse to somewhere that will put it in danger, it also affects the us, the rider.

When we put our souls in jeopardy, it hurts God very much to see us living our daily lives like this.  I could tell so many stories of horses I have ridden through the years that made me angry at times because of them going somewhere they shouldn’t be going, or not stopping or not backing up and even sometimes bucking me off.  However mad I would get during those times though, I knew I had a duty to lead them to the right place and keep them and myself safe.

John Freese 4God feels the same way.  He has the duty to watch over us, guide us, guard us, and direct us to wherever it is we need to be.  That is why He gave us His commandments to follow.  There are times when you are riding a horse when they want nothing but for you to get off of them.  When a horse starts to buck, that’s a pretty good sign that they don’t want to have any more to do with you.  When we as humans don’t follow God’s will, when we put other things in our lives ahead of God, He often feels as if we are the horse trying to buck Him off. 

John Freese 9I think that humans can be like horses and God is like our cowboy.  We need to not try to buck Him off, put other things (like an apple) before Him, and always listen to whatever it is He may be telling you to do, because He knows best.  And if we do a really good job of listening to God, He won’t need to use His spurs on us too much.

Doc and Pearl are still living today at the farm.  They are nearly 30 years old.  Eventually their time will come and they will pass on, just as we all will.  One of the only things we can be certain of is that nothing lasts forever.  We only get a short time on this earth to live our lives.  As we are living our lives, people will come and go, but there are a handful of people who touch your soul so deeply, that your life is never the same.  John was that type of person to so many people and that is why it is so hard for us to say goodbye to our old friend.

John Freese 5

Growing up on the farm in Waterloo, I spent a lot of time in the saddle riding my horses.  I considered myself a bit of a cowboy myself back then.  I remember when the movie 8 Seconds came out in 1994.  It was the story of Lane Frost, the bull rider who met an untimely death at the hands of a bull.  There was a part in the movie when they were flying into the Cheyenne rodeo in a small plane.  Cody Lambert recites a poem about a cowboy.  You can see the clip from the movie here.  The poem is originally from Baxter Black’s “Legacy of the Rodeo Man.”  That part always brought a tear to my eye.  It is simple and beautiful and it really is the essence of what a cowboy is.  The first time I saw it and every time since, I thought of John, because he was the closest thing to a cowboy that I have ever known in my life.  I never told him that, but I think if I had, he would have been honored to be known as such.  That is what he was and those are the best words to remember him by. 

Cowboy Is His Name

There’s a hundred years of history
and a hundred before that
All gathered in the thinkin’
Goin’ on beneath this hat.

The cold flame burns within him
‘Til his skin’s as cold as ice
And the dues he paid to get here
Are worth every sacrifice.

All the miles spend sleepy drivin’
All the money down the drain,
All the ‘if I’s’ and ‘nearly’s,’
All the bandages and pain,

All the female tears left dryin’,
All the fever and the fight
Are just a small down payment
On the ride he makes tonight.
It’s guts and love and glory,
One mortal’s chance at fame.
His legacy is rodeo
And cowboy is his name.

John, thanks so much for everything you have done and meant to myself and to so many people.  It is a long way to heaven and it has been one hell of a ride.

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About wmarsau

Most of the people who visit this blog already know me so it is kind of pointless to try to describe my life in this short little blurb. What is the purpose of this blog is the question. Over the course of this last year I have been exposed to some amazing people and have made personal development an important focus of my life. Being successful, not by the world's standards, but by God's has become my main focus. Mainly, I want to work to develop myself as a person who is kinder, reaches out to help those in need, and truly makes a difference in this world. To this end I am constantly reading and am exposed to so many differnet things along the way. These have been amazing and it is helping me grow so much. Then I started to think, "Why am I being so selfish?" You need to share with others these amazing things you are learning and being exposed to. That is where this blog comes into play. As I am reading and experiencing things that are truly amazing and life changing, I will be posting them on this blog. Obviously, I will not be able to post everything in it's entirity, but I will be summarizing them and letting you know the source of the article or book they come from so you can check them out later if you wish. I want this blog to be a place where you can go to often and be inspired and leave here with a smile on your face. I will be covering all kinds of different topics dealing with success and personal development. Topics like taking action, relationships, living to your potential, reinventing yourself, finances, leadership, presenting, goal setting, time management, etc. I will also be occasionally including topics on cooking, music, and gardening because they are special interests of mine. As a little disclaimer, I have given my life to the Lord and he is #1 in my life. I am his servant and everything I do in life is for his glory. With that being said, religion influences all areas of my life. There will be references to God in this blog because I can't seperate God from this or any other area of my life. I want you to know that if you do not believe in God, that is fine. That is your choice. This blog is open to anyone who wants to better their life. I will not be trying to influence or pressure anyone into having a relationship with the Lord from this site. Please don't feel uncomfortable. You can just read the portions of the blog that you wish to. I am inviting you to go on a journey with me. We will learn together to be the kind of people we were designed to be. Anyone can make a difference in this world, but it starts%
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3 Responses to Cowboy was His Name

  1. denise schirm-dearborn says:

    Beautifully said. Last time i talked to him, couple weeks ago, i did tell him he was the best of the best and he was my friend and farrier for almost 30 years. He said ” its not been that long”….lol. i said well, since 1985 or a little before that. He laughed and said well i guess it has been. My “go to” friend. John, you were a hell of a man and a hell of a horseman! He always had a joke to tell. He treated my daughter as his own and taught her so much. She never knew a better cowboy. Rest in peace my friend

  2. Marty Weeks says:

    Thanks for sharing Bill.

  3. JudyFleckenstein says:

    This is a wonderful tribute, Bill! John was a good friend to all of us!

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