“The Sonora Kid—Cowhand,” a story by Robert E. Howard, introduces us to the eponymous character, a young, confident, and skilled cowboy named Steve Allison. Set in a ranch environment, the story unfolds with a mix of humor, action, and the classic Western setting. It was never published during Howard’s lifetime.

The story

The narrative begins with Ogallala Brent, the foreman of the Double Z-U Ranch, encountering a young man who confidently asserts his desire for employment. This young man is Steve Allison, who, despite his youthful appearance and light-hearted demeanor, boasts a remarkable set of skills. He claims he can outfight, outride, outdrink, and outplay anyone at poker. Intrigued and amused, Ogallala decides to test Steve’s claims.

Steve’s first challenge is a fight with Gunboat, a burly, older, and larger cowpuncher. Despite the apparent mismatch, Steve’s agility and clever tactics give him the upper hand, eventually defeating Gunboat with a surprise kick. The cowboys, initially skeptical, are impressed by Steve’s fighting prowess.

Next, Steve faces Cyclone, a notoriously difficult horse to ride. Cyclone’s antics and Steve’s persistence create a comical yet thrilling scene as Steve manages to stay on despite the horse’s best efforts to dislodge him. In the end, Steve’s determination and skill earn him a job at the ranch, along with the respect of Ogallala and the other cowpunchers.

The characters

  • Steve Allison (The Sonora Kid): The main character, a young, skilled, and confident cowboy looking for work.
  • Ogallala Brent: The foreman of the Double Z-U Ranch, initially irritable but impressed by Steve’s abilities.
  • Gunboat: A large, burly cowpuncher known for his strength, who becomes Steve’s first challenge.
  • Cyclone: A difficult horse known for throwing riders, presenting a challenge for Steve to prove his riding skills.
  • Skinny: One of the cowboys who suggests moving the fight to a more suitable location.
  • Other Cowboys: Spectators of Steve’s challenges, initially skeptical but eventually impressed by his abilities.

Published in: