At 101, Bert Bonnet Rides On

By April 20, 2011

Bert Bonnet catches a ride on Buckshot. (Photo courtesy Corral 22)

It’s not easy finding a suitable horse at 101, even for a rider as experienced as Bert Bonnet. When the Shadow Hills–based horseman lost his beloved mare, Cassie, in a freak street accident on Dec. 4, he knew he had to get back in the saddle. Friends rallied, trying to come up with a good match for the diminutive Bonnet, who tried a few out, but didn’t find that perfect fit. Until seven-year-old Cody Tognazzini came along and offered the loan of his 15-hand sorrel gelding, Buckshot.

Cody’s mom, Cindy, said the family heard about the tragedy from a neighbor, Corral 22 president Sharon Richardson, who had seen Cody riding Buckshot—hanging off of him, riding through water, riding by himself—since he was six. “You just point Buckshot and he goes,” Cindy said.

Cindy, who is a riding instructor at her own Shamrock T Ranch, said that while it was something of a hardship to make a long-term loan of Cody—who in addition to being her son’s mount, was a popular lesson horse and also brought in revenue through leases—they were so moved by the tragedy that they felt compelled to help.

“Cody said it was fine, as long as we weren’t selling Buckshot,” she added. The boy had actually ridden with Bonnet as part of a group trail ride for the senior cowboy’s 100th birthday. “Cody was there when Bert tried the horse, and it was all good until the part where Buckshot got in the trailer and drove down the road. Then Cody cried. That horse has done parades, carried flags. Bert said we could borrow him back if we need him.”

Reflecting back weeks later, Cody admitted, “I miss Buckshot, and want to visit him a lot. But I’m really glad Bert likes him.”

The two rode together again this year, on Saturday, March 12, joining about 40 riders for the annual Hansen Dam trail ride held to celebrate Bonnet’s birthday, this year the 101st.

Bert Bonnet shares a ride with his young benefactor, 7-year-old Cody Tognazzini. (Photo by Locus/Ford

“Bert and Cody rode together on parts of the ride, which was very cute,” Cindy said. “Bert at 101 and Cody at 7. At one rest stop I asked Bert how Buckshot was treating him today, and he said that Buckshot treats him good everyday!”

Cindy said she is unsure about the horse’s bloodlines. They acquired him from a friend, whose son had outgrown him, and they got him off a ranch in New Mexico. “He has a Quarter Horse build, but you can tell he’s got some gaited blood in him.”

Bonnet, who picked up Buckshot on a Sunday in February, was out riding by himself the next day.

“Everyone is very proud of Cody,” Richardson said. “Can you imagine him, later on in life, being able to say, ‘I lent my horse to a 101-year-old cowboy!’? Bert is so happy, which makes us all happy, because everyone loves Bert. He is our icon!”

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2 Comments for “At 101, Bert Bonnet Rides On”

  1. kim estrada

    Just passing along info that Bert Bonnet, the 101 yr old horseman, had passed today!

  2. Steve Mart

    Ride on Cowboy. GOD’S SPEED…

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