Racing In Their Blood

ritbIn this green and pleasant land, the fields outside the course are filled with white stretch limos the length of a squash court, attended by race- goers drinking champagne at tailgate parties. Presumably those who cannot afford grey morning dress or had forgotten their top hat. Or possibly the touts. There are six races each day of the four-day Royal Ascot season, starting at the gentlemanly hour of 2:30 and finishing at the gentlemanly hour of 5:30.

After six months negotiating for a ticket, it is $130 a pop to get into the Royal Enclosure. Ladies who have spent $400 for their slingback shoes see them disappear into acid as …

Logger Of The Year? Yep.

mhbAs Ralph Morgan puts it, “I’d rather have friends than money anytime.”

Luckily, Morgan has both, although he’s not the type to talk much about the latter. Morgan has made innumerable friends after 40-plus years logging and doing other business in a two-county area of eastern Mississippi. And a good many of those friends are business contacts.

Maybe Morgan puts so much stock in maintaining good friends because most people who work with him become his friends. After living and maintaining three businesses in the same county for decades, Morgan is good at keeping those friends. Networking works in the woods, too.

As with almost any successful logger, much more …

Lady Cowgirls Do It Up At The Rodeo

lcowgIt’s a typical mid-August day in eastern Colorado–so dry that a gulp of water mixes with dust in your throat and makes mud. Across the sun-glazed arena of the Akron fairgrounds booms the announcer’s voice “… and all the way from Montana, ladies and gentlemen….” In worn Wranglers and rugby shirt, world-champion bullrider Lynn “Jonnie” Jonckowski lowers herself onto Cottontail– 1,500 pounds of raging Brahma muscle.

Jonnie’s right arm, spirally fractured in 12 places by a bull’s hooves nearly two years ago, is tightly wrapped. This is her first major competition since the accident.

In the closet-sized chute, the bun rocks with anticipation, slamming his rider’s knees into metal bars …

The Cowdog Is King!

cowdikJohn Erickson is a jen-u-wine Texas cowboy. He’s a lanky, bearded six-footer in an honest-to-God ten-gallon hat, and he has that stubborn Old West determination to succeed.

That’s why he borrowed $2,000 from a high school football buddy who worked at the Perryton, Texas, bank, and in 1982 started publishing his own books — the Hank the Cowdog series.

Erickson had been writing for 15 years, collecting hundreds — possibly thousands — of rejections. “I’d gone to writers’ conventions and chased those New York editors all around the hotel lobbies, but nobody was interested,” he says. “Maybe self-publishing was a crazy thing to do, but it was really a matter …

Cowboy Poetry Stokes The Flame

cowbpsAs critics have been bemoaning the decline of poetry and literary writers have been defending their small yet loyal audience, another trend has taken root at ranches, rodeos and country-and-western bars across America: the rise of cowboy poetry.

I was able to explore this trend last year when I was asked to judge the National Cowboy Hall of Fame poetry competition out of Oklahoma City. (The biggest cowboy poetry event, The Gathering — a convention that began in 1985 in Elko, Nevada — now attracts more than 8,000 poetry lovers, which may make it the largest annual celebration of verse in the world.)

Generally, cowboy poets don’t approach the muse …

Western Artist Points The Way

wapFritz White defies the stereotypical image of the Western artist You can usually find him in his studio, a partially renovated church in Loveland, wearing shorts, a Hawaiian shirt, and tennis shoes. Strains of classical music jazz fill the cavernous space. Here, every day, he paces around a work in progress, sketches new ideas on his chalkboard, and discusses board with other artists, referring to Rodin and Michelangelo more often than Russell or Remington.

The human figure has always been the primary focus of his art. Western art, especially his studies of the Native American, is a natural extension of his interest in the human body. “I like to keep …

Jay Dusard: Western Photographer

jadwpJay Dusard’s techniques have proven extraordinarily successful, catapulting him into the regional and national spotlight in everything from ad campaigns to book projects…all the while never compromising his singular artistic vision.

“My favorite kind of photography is landscape, and that’s what I’ve been working on mostly since I built my 4×10 `point-and-shoot’ camera,” offers Dusard, even though he is better know for his portraits. “I don’t see any difference between portraits and landscapes; I approach all of my photography similarly and the only difference between a portrait and a landscape is that in the portrait some of your subject matter is movable. Not so in landscapes, wherein you must move …

Cowboy Statue Rejected!

cowboysrGeorge Lane was reportedly tall enough to hook his spurs under the belly of a horse. Born in Iowa in 1856, he came to Alberta in 1887 to run the Bar U for Fred Stimson, manager of the North West Land and Cattle Company. In 1905, Mr. Lane and some backers bought the ranch–1,800 acres, 5,000 head of cattle and 1,000 horses–for $220,000. Mr. Lane kept it until his death in 1925, and meat-packing magnate Pat Burns took over in 1927.

Mr. Lane was one of the top 10 operators in the history of Canadian ranching, says Hugh Dempsey, retired curator of Calgary’s Glenbow Museum. A shrewd businessman, Mr. Lane …

You Can’t Keep An Old Cowhand Down

oldcowhdA cowpoke since the age of 14, Art Biddlecomb says that what distinguishes a real cowboy is simply that “the others don’t know diddlysquat.” Worse, in increasing numbers, they are driving “quads” (a motorcycle with four wheels) or pickup trucks. “A cow,” he explains, “feels more relaxed and does a lot better if she regularly sees a cowboy on horseback poking through the herd; better than if she doesn’t see a cowboy or if she sees a pickup truck roaring at her.”

Art continuously explains what his animals are thinking. “If you get mad at a cow, you never want to show it,” he advises. “That cow’ll pick it …