Old Ridin' Hoss
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OL' RIDIN' HOSS. Old-Time, Breakdown. G Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. Ford printed this ditty with the tune:
A little old man comes a-ridin' by.
Sez I: "Old man, your hoss'll die."
"If he does, I'll tan his skin,
And if he don't, I'll ride 'im agin." ... (Ford)
The lines are a version of Dan Emmett's minstrel song "Billy Patterson." Emmett likely picked it up from folk sources, and it has the ring of antiquity...an ancient joke. A version appears in the mastheading chanty "As I was Going to Rig-a-ma-row," or "Poor Old Man," which would seem to be independent of Emmett's song (see P.A. Hutchison, "Sailors' Chanties," JAFL, vol. 19, no. 72, Mar. 1906, pp. 16-28). See the discussion at Mudcat  (from which this entry was synthesized).
As a floating verse it also appears in the Pope's Arkansas Mountaineers version of "Jaw Bone," recorded for Victor Records in 1928 in Memphis, Tennessee.
Little old man come riding by,
Say, 'Old man, your horse will die';
'If he dies, I'll tan his skin,
'If he lives, I'll ride him again'.
Walk jaw bone and walk away,
Walk jaw bone both night and day.
Source for notated version:
Printed sources: Ford (Traditional Music in America), 1940; p. 123.