‘Gunsmoke’ Star James Arness Once Opened Up About How Cowboys Depended on Horses

by Megan Molseed
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During his long role on the iconic western television series Gunsmoke, actor James Arness got the full experience regarding what it means to be a cowboy.

The longtime actor reflected on these experiences in an article he wrote before his passing. In the piece titled No Trick Horses For Me, the Marshal Matt Dillon actor discusses riding horses and what these amazing animals meant for cowboys back in the day.

In the article, James Arness recalls riding show horses that he encountered long before his run on Gunsmoke. The western series actor in his article how he remembers the children believing that horses are core to the “premise” of being a cowboy. Especially the magical trick horses.

And, of course, James Arness says in his article, he remembers believing that it is the sheer love of just being a cowboy along with the necessity of a horse that truly makes the cowboy.

“The kids all believed implicitly in the premise that a cowboy who owned a trick horse would go on being a cowboy for $60 a month,” James Arness says in his No Trick Horses For Me article. “Just for the sheer love of being a cowboy.”

Not A Riding Horse

James Arness remembers how when he asked the owner of the impressive show horse if he could ride, he learned that horses such as that are not ones that are meant for riding.

The Gunsmoke star notes in his article that the cowboy experience was a big deal to him as a child. And, he often remembered this show horse as he grew up, especially when he began spending time riding the amazing animals while filming his popular western television series.

“I often thought about this horse in later years whenever I saw movie cowboys with their big beautiful horses,” the Gunsmoke actor recalls in his brief memoir.

‘Gunsmoke’ Star Ponders Show Horses Compared To A ‘Cowboy’s’ Horse

“The cowboys seemed to ride their horses all right,” the actor continues.

“And the horses could even untie knots,” James Arness continues noting that he knows this because, in the films, “those cowboys were always getting tied up.”

For James Arness, this means that the cowboy’s horses were smart.

However, the Gunsmoke Marshal adds, they weren’t quite as smart as the show horse, he believes.

“These movie horses were almost as smart as that horse in the show,” writes James Arness.

“But not quite,” the actor adds. “They weren’t smart enough to earn a living without letting somebody ride on them.”

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