Mirror, Mirror

April 18th, 2013  / Author: roadstories

It’s one thing to spend a few extra minutes at the bathroom sink, studying your own reflection, but what would people think if you mounted large mirrors along the rails of your home arena?

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While spending a couple of days with Western Horseman Award winner Buck Brannaman, I photographed him working horses in his indoor arena outside of Sheridan, Wyoming. One side is lined with several large mirrors, and Buck kept a close eye on himself while warming up his geldings.

Buck will assure you that it wasn’t conceit that inspired him to hang the polished metal panels. The idea, which came from dressage riders he knows, gives him a better view of his horse’s movements and also helps him make adjustments to his own cues and position in the saddle.

In reality, mirrors are brutally honest, and Buck says that the ones in his arena have led to improved horsemanship.

“People who come here and ride with me also show a lot of improvement when they can see what they’re doing and what their horse is doing,” Buck adds.

Winter Workouts

March 20th, 2013  / Author: roadstories

David Miller ordered a huge plate of Mexican food and scarfed up every last bean and shred of cheese.
“Man, I’m hungry,” he said.
In February, David, his wife, Monique, and I were eating at a local restaurant after a full day on their cattle operation near Hardin, Montana. The couple are in the business of fattening yearling cattle, and during winter months they use two horse-drawn wagons to deliver hay and pellets to their hungry livestock. Typically, their ranch hand, Tom Mattingly, drives the alfalfa wagon; Monique works horseback, checking for sick calves and driving them to feed; and David shovels feed from his wagon and into bunks.
While cold weather and heavy snow cause most people to spend more time indoors, the Millers are outside seven days a week, working up an appetite.
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Tom Mattingly and his team deliver alfalfa hay to hungry calves.
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Every day during the winter, David Miller feeds 500 yearling calves.

Sawdust Shots

February 21st, 2013  / Author: roadstories

I had this grand scheme for photographing a foal. Rather than shooting outside in brown, January grass and cold temperatures, I decided to set up inside a stall. The lighting in most barns isn’t ideal, so I rented an Elinchrom 400 watt flash and attached a umbrella to soften the light. Carol Rose was kind enough to let me photograph one of her day-old foals, a sorrel colt by CD Lights.

I worried that an umbrella and sporadic flashes of light would cause the mare and foal to freak out. The mare was a little uncertain, but nothing seemed to alarm Squiggle (the nickname I gave my photo subject). In fact, he wasn’t even concerned about my presence in the tight confines of that stall, wielding a camera and eventually lying down in the fresh sawdust in order to get an interesting photo (somehow I always end up rolling around on the ground during photo shoots).

I also photographed a filly outside by Shiners Lena Doc, and a shot of her ended up working best for our March 2013 cover. Squiggle may have missed out on being in the magazine, but with his disposition, breeding and the world-class program he’s in, I think there’s a good chance that one day the bright lights will shine on him again.

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Best Seats in the House

February 2nd, 2013  / Author: roadstories

In so many different ways, it’s a privilege to work for Western Horseman. One of the perks of this job is not only getting to attend some phenomenal equine events, such as major shows and clinics. But it’s also great to have the clearance to sit anywhere. It amazing what kind of access you have when you’re wearing a media badge and carrying a couple of cameras. The least I can do is share some of the photos I got.

These shots were taken at A Legacy of Legends, a clinic that pays tribute to influential horseman Ray Hunt. The clinic was held February 1–3 in Las Vegas, Nevada, and it featured horsemen such as Buck Brannaman, Jaton Lord, Wayne Robinson, Lee Smith and Melanie Smith Taylor.

Darrell Dodds, our publisher, and I attended the event primarily to present the Western Horseman Award to Brannaman. His lifelong dedication to teaching horsemanship, love for horses and traditional values make him an ideal recipient. Ray Hunt made a tremendous impact on Brannaman’s life, so A Legacy of Legends was an ideal event in which to present the award. Keep an eye out for an article on Brannaman in the May issue of Western Horseman.

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Jaton Lord puts the first ride on a colt, with help from Buck Brannaman.

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Wayne Robinson works a cow in his cutting horse demonstration.

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Jaton Lord tosses a loop in the roping demonstration.

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Reata Brannaman works with a colt.

Bronc Riding

May 28th, 2012  / Author: roadstories

It was a wild and wind-blown night in Amarillo, the site of the inaugural Championship Ranch Bronc Riding, hosted May 26 by the Working Ranch Cowboys Association. With 40 riders from 10 states, the event attracted some of the best ranch cowboys in the country. The event also featured a women’s division, with eight tough cowgirls taking on some hard-bucking broncs. The stock was provided by the Harry Vold Rodeo Company.

J.D. Brock won the event, marking an 86 in the final go-round. The Idaho cowboy works for the Triangle S Ranch.

The women’s division was captured by Jessica Mosher of Colorado. With PRCA-quality broncs to contend with, the first seven ladies were unable to make it to the whistle. As the last rider, Mosher held on and scored a 72.

J.D. Brock wins with an 86-point ride.

J.D. Brock wins with an 86-point ride.

Billy Good of Portales, New Mexico, gets ready for his ride.

Billy Good of Portales, New Mexico, gets ready for his ride.

Pook Hoots of the Marys River Ranch traveled from Nevada.

Pook Hoots of the Marys River Ranch traveled from Nevada.

Pickup riders catch a bronc after its rider had dismounted.

Pickup riders catch a bronc after its rider had dismounted.

Hats Off to the Cowboy Artists

May 26th, 2012  / Author: roadstories

Nothing makes you feel more like a pilgrim than keeping your hand on the crown of your hat so it doesn’t come off. Nevertheless, there I was on the famed Four Sixes Ranch, riding a solid sorrel ranch gelding named Fitzgerald, trotting across the wide-open plains, clamping down on my broad-brim straw for dear life.

But let me tell you, that wind was moving like a hurricane. I tried tipping my head left, right and down; I wiped my brow and screwed down my lid to the ears; I prayed that the wind would give it a rest; all to no avail. So across the treeless, 5,000-acre pasture we rode, with me trying to keep my kite of a hat from launching to Kansas.

It was the second day of the annual Cowboy Artists Ride, this year held May 16–18 on the Panhandle division of the Four Sixes. The first two days we gathered large pastures and branded some of the ranch’s calves. Artists such as Tim Cox, Bruce Greene, Fred Fellows and Bill Owen roped and dragged calves to the fire, while Sixes cowboys like Boots O’Neal, Bubba Smith, George and Justin Bruton, Cotton Leathers and Don Brown worked as the ground crew.

The Cowboy Artists prefer their annual rides to steer clear of cushy ranch resorts with countless accomodations, and the Sixes obliged. The artists slept far away from headquarters in cowboy teepees, ate at a chuck wagon, woke up and left camp well before sunrise, trotted miles and miles on the Sixes’s good ranch horses, and braved that infamous, howling, High Plains wind.

I made it back to camp with my hat intact, thank goodness. I unsaddled Fitzgerald and returned him to the ranch stock trailer, as had Montana artist Dave Powell, who dons a mega-broadbrim cowboy hat and constant sunny personality.

“Well, my had stayed on!” he said with a smile.

“That’s a big accomplishment,” I said.

Bruce Greene drags one to the fire.

Bruce Greene drags one to the fire.

CA members and Sixes cowboys trot out to pasture.

CA members and Sixes cowboys trot out to pasture.

Breakfast at the wagon was served early.

Breakfast at the wagon was served early.

Musician Red Steagall sings a cowboy tune at the campfire.

Musician Red Steagall sings a cowboy tune at the campfire.

The Four Sixes Ranch cooks.

The Four Sixes Ranch cooks.

Shooting in Vegas

December 9th, 2011  / Author: roadstories

I’m in Las Vegas for the first time, covering the National Finals Rodeo. Last night I watched the 8th round, and it was electrifying. Below are a few of my favorite shots from the evening.

Crash Cooper was on hand to open up the performance with a bang.

Crash Cooper was on hand to open up the performance with a bang.

I sat next to my friend Kyle Partain, a former associate editor for Western Horseman and now managing editor for ProRodeo Sports News. It looks to me like he's seen his share of laser/fireworks shows.

I sat next to my friend Kyle Partain, a former associate editor for Western Horseman and now managing editor for ProRodeo Sports News. It looks to me like he's seen his share of laser/fireworks shows.

Cory Solomon chases down a calf in the tie-down roping.

Cory Solomon chases down a calf in the tie-down roping.

Kaycee Feild continues to dominate in the bareback riding, tying for first last night with a 83.5 score. He has won $110,577 so far at the NFR.

Kaycee Feild continues to dominate in the bareback riding, tying for first last night with a 83.5 score. He has won $110,577 so far at the NFR.

Lindsay Sears and Martha tied for third in the barrel racing.

Lindsay Sears and Martha tied for third in the barrel racing.

Bull’s Eye

September 17th, 2011  / Author: roadstories

Oh, they like to laugh about that flimsy, PVC-pipe fence they use at the Pendleton Round-Up during the bull riding. Some bulls think it’s real and have no idea that those goofy photographers on the other side are an easy target. Others find that it doesn’t take much more than a nudge with the horn or shoulder to make part of that fence fall down and send a bunch of wide-eyed, lens-toting photogs scrambling. Several bulls knocked down the faux-fence, and one flat-out jumped it. You should of seen the photogs running and shaking in their boots, myself included.

Here at the 2011 Pendleton Round-Up, it’s not all that safe for photograpers. One photog told me he was more scared of the broncs, which aren’t held in by PVC. Whatever, dude. Those horses may travel fast, but they don’t glare at you from five feet away, thinking about all the ways they’d love to stomp you into the ground.
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Ryan Fornstrom ropes his calf in 13 seconds.

Ryan Fornstrom ropes his calf in 13 seconds.

Local Native Americans compete in the Indian Race.

Local Native Americans compete in the Indian Race.

Dave Worsfold competes in the bareback riding.

Dave Worsfeld competes in the bareback riding.

Top 10 WH Ride Moments

August 1st, 2011  / Author: roadstories

I’m still groggy from a 13-hour, all-night drive from Colorado Springs back home. Many Western Horseman staff members left Sunday afternoon from a remarkable gathering and trail ride celebrating our 75th anniversary. It was a whirl-wind weekend of meeting new people, catching up with old friends and making plenty of memories. Here are my favorite moments from this past weekend.

10. Our national anthem.
Cowboy musician Michael Martin Murphey arrived in a stage coach Saturday morning and kicked off the trail ride with a guitar and a moving rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner.” With around 150 riders mounted, hats off and Pikes Peak in the background, it was a great setting for us to honor our country and the men and women who have fought to defend our freedom.

9. Rain and cool weather.
It has been hot and dry in Texas all summer, so a few days of cooler mountain air and afternoon rain showers was a nice break.

8. Cowboy church service.
Sunday morning we attended a cowboy church service at the Flying W Ranch. Pastor Scotty Vaughn delivered a great message on the joy of the Lord.

7. Caricatures by Kevin Cordtz.
Each month, Cordtz creates the cartoons that illustrate Baxter Black’s column on the back page of the magazine. Saturday night he was on hand to draw some hilarious caricatures of those attending the banquet.

6. Catching up with former staff members.
Past editors Pat Close and Gary Vorhes, and former editorial assistant Karan Miller joined us on the ride. It was also nice to catch up with former staffers such as Randy Witte and Kim Simhauser.

5. Western Horseman’s display at the ProRodeo Hall of Fame.
A new display at the “Hall” features several artifacts from the magazine, as well as a sketch of Dick Spencer and covers from January 1936 and January 2011.

4. The banter of famous horsemen.
WH book authors and respected horsemen attended the celebration. The group included Martin Black, Chris Cox, Bob Avila, Al Dunning, Mike Major, Craig Cameron, Marty Martin, Mike Kevil, Jack Brainard, Dr. Bob Miller and Curt Pate. They all said they had a great time and seemed to enjoy each others company. They didn’t hold back from razzing one other, either. When several of them opted to take the shorter route on the trail ride, Al Dunning acted incredulous. “We should make them t-shirts that say, ‘I DID NOT survive the Western Horseman ride,’” he said with a laugh.

3. Riding my gelding.
On photo shoots, I often ride someone else’s horse. This time I got the chance to bring my own. There’s nothing like riding your own horse. My 3-year-old roan gelding handled his first mountain experience very well.

2. Meeting readers.
This event was designed for our loyal readers. Many longtime subscribers had good things to say about the magazine, which is always nice to hear. I met a lot of neat people, including Reinhold and Isabel Pennekamp, who flew all the way from Germany to attend the ride.

1. Conversations with great horsemen.
This weekend gave me the chance to listen to conversations among the industry’s best horsemen. One evening I sat at a table with Brainard, Miller, Black and Pate as they discussed horsemanship. Fascinating.

Darryl Bennett and Craig Cameron.

Darryl Bennett and Craig Cameron.

Cowboy Artists Ride

July 11th, 2011  / Author: roadstories

If you study very many of Charlie Russell’s classic paintings, you’ll notice a familiar butte that often shows up in background. The distinguished land form, called Square Butte, is easy to see while riding on the Bell Cross Ranch. This ranch, located south of Great Falls, Montana, hosted the Cowboy Artists of America’s annual trail ride two weeks ago. The Cowboy Artists invited Western Horseman along for the ride, and I was honored to represent the magazine.
Chalie Russell country is the ideal location for a CAA trail ride. Several artists made comments about the colors and light in this area, and how it was reflected in Russell’s paintings.
I got a chance to visit the C.M. Russell Museum in Great Falls and meet several great artists on the ride who have been inspired by Russell (I think every CAA member has been inspired by Russell). Overall, it was a enjoyable time of riding, meeting new friends, sitting around the campfire, and getting out of the blistering Texas heat.
Below are several photos from the ride.

First photo: From left, Fred Fellows, Bruce Greene, Tim Cox and Bill Owen ride with Square Butte in the background.
Photo 2: Loren Entz (left) and Dave Powell help move cows and calves to a new pasture.
Photo 3: Bill Owen kills a rattlesnake as Tim Cox looks on.
Photo 4: Range tents, or cowboy tepees, line the campsite on the Bell Cross Ranch.

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