marshall trimble ask the marshall true west magazine

In the January 2019 issue of True West, Pancho Villa is riding with the reins in his right hand and his reata tied on the left. The man behind him is riding with his right hand also, but the reata is tied on the right. Shouldn’t right-handers hold reins in their left hands?

Thump Witcher
Honey Grove, Texas

We checked out the photo and believe the negative was reversed. You’re right, both riders are holding the reins with their right hand. They should be in their left hands. The reversed image issue is why so many people believed Billy the Kid was left-handed, based on the authenticated tintype of the Kid.

Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian and vice president of the Wild West History Association. His latest book is Arizona Outlaws and Lawmen; The History Press, 2015. If you have a question, write: Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327 or email him at

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