Farm Forum

A bucking horse named after a town in Ireland is buried in a town named for a Dakota prairie icon.

Tipperary is village in Ireland that WW I soldiers sang about as they marched, noting that it was “a long way to Tippeary.”

Somehow, the town’s name became the name of a famous South Dakota bucking horse that might be buried under an imposing monument in the little town of Buffalo, S.D., that hardy no one sings about except the 488 souls and possibly a couple of heels who call Buffalo home.

The horse that became known as Tipperary and earned a spot in the Cowboy Hall of Fame was born in northwestern South Dakota in 1910. It was of cavalry age when WW I came around, but local lore claims it was so mean and unmanageable that it was passed over by the military.

The story goes that two saloon keepers then won the cranky horse in a poker game and Ed Mart of Camp Cook, one of the best rodeo riders around, was induced to take Tipperary for a ride.

Ed was quickly dismounted on Camp Crook’s main street and made the comment as he distanced himself from the still snorting horse that “It’s a long way to Tipperary.”

The name stuck and the horse went on to become a super star on the rodeo circuit. He was so well known that rodeo promoters kept him from regular bronc riding competition, and usually featured Tipperary and a famous bronc rider for a specially featured competition.

Yakima Canutt, one of the best, was often pitted against the horse, and eventually managed to stay aboard at a rodeo in Belle Fourche. Soon afterwards, Tipperary was retired to pasture.

A blizzard in 1932 got the best of him. Wolves picked his carcass clean. Admiring folks in Buffalo, who knew good rodeo stock, later retrieved some bones and buried them beneath of fitting monument.

But there were two horses picked clean by wolves and coyotes in that pasture that winter and spring of 1932.

So the bones buried under the monument to Tipperary in Buffalo might be just another nag for all we know. But Tipperary’s memory is set to last through 100s of Dakota bad winters anyway.