The Johnny Ringo Saga, PT I: Johnny Ringo Meets His Huckleberry


Loralee Ward, Staff Writer

In January of 2022, my brother sat on a musty twin bed in the misnamed Grand Gateway Hotel in Rapid City, South Dakota. He pondered the days events while watching the infamous Wyatt Earp in the classic western Tombstone. My father and brother traveled to Rapid City in search of prospect horses. Their goal was to obtain the prospect cheap in hopes of a good investment.

Sadly the previous year’s trend of the horse market being at all times highs continued to hold, and the bidding duo watched as horse after horse went through the ring; selling for prices far above what was in the Lazy JWC Ranch checkbook for prospects.

Little known fact about horse sales, there is typically an open bar. Another subtle detail is that catlog organizers will typically put either the most illustrious horses or the biggest pickles* in the sale near the end of the catalog in hopes that the effects of an open bar on a buyer’s checkbook will be in full swing. The sale barn game plan was executed to perfection on Jim Ward (my father) as a lanky yellow yearling was led into the sale ring. The bidding started off at a few hundred dollars and as bids slowed around a thousand, my father turned to brother Kody and asked, “Why is this horse going so cheap?” Kody replied, “Because I don’t know a single name on this sucker’s papers**. Don’t even THINK about buying this yearling!”

This unfortunate series of events brings us back to the roach-infested Gateway Hotel Room where Kody sat watching Tombstone. For those of you poor souls who’ve never seen Val Kilmer’s incredible depiction of Doc Holliday in this film,  I’ll let you in on the plot:

Doc Holliday plays the gunslinging, gambling, valiant, ladies’ man protagonist in the film. Johnny Ringo happens to be his antagonist counterpart. Kody, identifying heavily with Doc Holliday’s character, could not think of a more fitting name than Johnny Ringo for his newly purchased yellow yearling. Thus, begins the saga of Johnny Ringo.

*Pickle: cowboy termed used to describe a horse that may lack intellect and/or ability

**Papers: horse registration pictures