"Walking John was a big rope horse" who "was willing and stout and strong," but "he sure enjoyed his joke." Every morning he tried to throw his first rider -- but then settled down to be a hard worker
Larkin notes, "The poems of Henry Herbert Knibbs have been plagiarized and adapted so often that he is entitled to be named the poet laureate of hte cowboys." She adds that this sog is "the biography of a real horse."
It would appear that the song was in oral tradition before Knibbs published it; since Larkin published her book in 1931 and it had passed through at least two stages of tradition by the time she collected it. - RBW