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See the Art Spur introductory page here

It's been said that a picture is worth a thousand words...we know many that are worthy of a poem.  In Art Spur, we invite poets to let selections of Western art inspire their poetry.

Our eighth piece offered to "spur" the imagination, as part of the celebration of the National Day of the Cowboy (July 22, 2006) is "Leadin' a Spare," a photograph of South Dakota rancher Robert Dennis by photographer and writer Jeri Dobrowski

Read the resulting poems below.

photo by Jeri L. Dobrowski, obtain permission for reproduction rights
"Leadin' a Spare"

Jeri Dobrowski's photography is familiar to Western readers. Her photos have been featured in magazines including American Cowboy, Cowboy Magazine and True West, and in books, newspapers, program books, brochures, and on CDsShe is well known as a journalist and the author of Cowboy Jam Session, a monthly column of Western culture news and reviews. She also designs and edits books and CD projects.

"Leadin' a Spare" is one of the photos taken during a shoot for a Cowboy Magazine cover story about Robert Dennis (read the entire story and see additional photos here). 

"Leadin' a Spare" depicts Robert Dennis and a father and a son pair of horses. He is leading the father of the horse he is riding. Jeri Dobrowski comments, "That always is a source of pride for ranchers, cattlemen, and  horsemen: to have two and sometimes three generations of a bloodline and have them all be good working and using horses."

Read the Winter, 2006 Cowboy Magazine cover story about Robert Dennis here.

Read more about Robert Dennis and read some of his poetry here.

Read more about journalist and photographer Jeri Dobrowski and read her Cowboy Jam Session columns here.

Events across America celebrate the National Day of the Cowboy, July 22, 2006.  You can read more about the celebration at the National Cowboy Day web site and the National Day of the Cowboy web site.

See previous Art Spur projects here.


Poetry Submissions

Poetry submissions were welcome from all, through July 15, 2006 Submissions are no longer being accepted.

A panel of qualified judges helped make a blind selection of five top poems from those submitted, and the poems below were posted on July 21, 2006, in celebration of the National Day of the Cowboy, July 22, 2006.

photo by Jeri L. Dobrowski, obtain permission for reproduction rights

"Leadin' a Spare"




A Rancher's Pride, by Rod Nichols
Bringing Along a Spare, by Elizabeth Ebert
Leadin' a Spare, by Diane Tribitt
Company, by Ken Cook
Leading a Spare, by Yvonne Hollenbeck

Special addition:  Sam Jackson's The Pack Train (ing)



A Rancher's Pride

There's somethin' 'bout the land it's said
that grows inside a man:
a sense of being where he ought
a rancher understands.

Don't matter if the spread is small
or largest in the State:
it's part of him and he of it
once past the entry gate

He counts the time upon the range
in generations lived,
and cherishes his heritage
and all the pride it gives.

The father of his father and
the son he sees today,
are of a long and special line
and holds each man to stay.

There's joy in ev'ry head of stock
that bears the fam'ly brand,
for they like he are part of what
gives value to the land.

There's nothin' gets a bigger smile
than when compliments are said
about a foal from out a sire
that he, himself, has bred.

And they, like he a father, son,
he'll ride to show the pair.
A waiting saddle on the sire,
a place for his young heir.

There's somethin' 'bout the land it's said
that grows inside a man:
a sense of being where he ought
a rancher understands.

Don't matter if the spread is small
or largest in the State:
it's part of him and he of it
once past the entry gate

© 2006, Rod Nichols
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Bringing Along a Spare  

He'd bought the old MacGregor place
    Fifty miles out west of town.
Said he'd come into some money
    And he'd put a payment down.
He was in his middle thirties
    And he didn't have a wife
So he thought he'd follow up his dream
    And try a rancher's life.

He said he'd likely stock with steers
    And each sale day he would set
Writing prices in his notebook
    Although he'd bought none yet.
He seemed a pretty decent sort
    Always friendly and polite.
Drove a fairly flashy pickup
    Seldom saw him out at night.

So we reckoned we'd be neighborly
    And ask if he would care
To help us move some cattle
    But to bring along a spare
"Cause the day got kind of longish
    And the weather might be hot,
And we all were getting eager
    To see what mounts he brought.

We were saddled up and waiting
    When roaring down the road
Came his fairly flashy pickup
    And a trailer with its load.
And he'd sure-enough brought along a spare
    For pretty as you please,
Riding on that flatbed trailer
    Were TWO yellow ATVs.

© 2006, Elizabeth Ebert
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


 Leadin' a Spare

He arrived in a shiny red Caddy, a city slick green as could be,
with new customized plates that spelled COWBOY, and a built-right-in color TV.

He walked over to Cookie's fine diner, a busted up hay wagon bed,
that was tucked in the shade of some jack pine where us '101' ranch hands were fed

In a distinctive, eastern Bronx accent he asked where he'd find Uncle Jack,
who was looking to hire a cowboy -- a good one to pick up some slack.

Not a cowboy looked up from his grub plate as the echoes of silence grew shrill,
So's I pulled down my hat and I pointed to the Boss' spread up on the hill.

At morning's first light we were saddled. Each cowboy was ready to ride,
but the Boss held us up with a whistle. The wannabie rode at his side.

Boss said, "Buster, I know you're a loner, but I'm needin' a favor from you.
Take my nephew out and show 'im the ropes.  Heck, I'll double yer pay if you do."

The kid constantly babbled and bragged on his horsemanship, knowledge and skill.
And he made shur I knew that he'd be the heir of the '101 Ranch' in Jack's will.

Guess it was then and there I decided that money and such never were
my motives fer bein' a cowboy, but solitude wuz, fer dang shur.

I would forfeit my double pay gladly. Heck, I'd probably work fer free
to be by myself, so I sent the kid off to check some line fences fer me.

I wuz enjoyin' the peace and quiet 'till I looked up and let out a groan.
That dang kids' mount wuz headed back here, and the horse wuz ridin' alone.

I caught his bay up, and tied 'im on tight, sure hopin' the greenhorn weren't dead,
while grinnin' at thoughts of Jack bein' heir to that Cadillac painted bright red.

I found 'im next to a prickly pear patch, sittin' on the ground quite alive,
pickin' cactus barbs from his tender hide, but it looked like the kid would survive.

He said, "Buster, I jumped off on purpose, but didn't think to look where I'd fall.
I was testing to see if he'd ground tie if I weren't in the saddle at all."

© 2006, Diane Tribitt
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.




Went to see my Dad today
Didn't want to ride alone  

But Ma felt kinda poorly
So I was on my own.

Ask my sons to saddle up
Give them colts an easy ride

I'd already made the gather
Had their horse's right outside.  

Seems all of them had cows to move
And that job needed done

Thanked me for catching horses though
Then took off on a run.

Sis bolted for the pickup
A trip to town she'd make

Something 'bout Mom's errands
And six more loaves to bake.

So I put Dad's Porter on his stud      
And took that horse with me

I rode the son of Dad's best horse,
I was in good company.

Ma keeps sayin' use Dad's horse        
...as yet don't feel he's mine

But today after my visit
I knew we'd reached the time.       

Dad's buried near the homestead
Right here on the ranch

I'm gonna ride with him again
If God gives me the chance.

Both horses grazed while I stood there
My hat down in my hand

Felt good just to be that close
There's folks would understand.

Said my thank you and good-bye
Got on the stud like he'd taught me

Headed north to catch my boys.
Sure could use their company.

© 2006, Ken Cook 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



Leading a Spare

I'm just a bit disgusted 'though I probably shouldn't be,
     But darn, my wife gets testy and directs it all at me.

All I did was ask her if she'd come along and ride,
     'cause we've got cows out on the range...out on the neighbor's side.

She said I never help her and I sure don't do my share,
   So just to show I'd help her out, I saddled up this mare,

And then I led it to the house and thought I'd test my luck
   But forgot how green that mare is, and sure does like to buck.

I should prob'ly not have said it, 'cause it seemed to hurt her pride
   When I mentioned it would do her good to do more work outside.

I don't know what she does all day 'cept cook and clean and sew
    ...well, sometimes opens tanks and bunks when we have ice and snow.

So when the people ask me why I'm leading this ol' mare
   My answer will be simple:  "I just brought along a spare."

© 2006, Yvonne Hollenbeck
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Sam A. Jackson was one of the qualified judges for this Art Spur competition. Sam conceived and produces the world's only Cowboy Poetry Rodeo.

While considering the many exceptional poems and the "Leading a Spare" photograph, Sam was inspired to share his own related poem, a story from his youth. It's presented below with an illustration by artist (and Sam's wife) Reneé Jackson. 

"A picture's worth a thousand words"
An adage old, but tried and true.
Could be, my "picture's" "for the birds?"
No less, It's here for your review!

The Pack Train (ing)

My first time trailin' off the road,
     I'm young and green and know my place.
Though I'm assigned a grown mans load,
     as yet I do not shave my face.

The summer range, is four days trail.
    The herd is nervous, set to go.
"Wrangler," "Camp Jack's," my detail--
    A big guys job, my head's aglow!

Of course there's things I've yet to learn.
     As they unfold I'll do my best!
Two bit's a day's the wage I earn--
     Worth every cent! I'll meet the test!

My pack string's ready,  set to go,
     The lead rope pulls a mare named Blue.
Tied to her tail, a horse named Mo--
     hooked his tail-- is tied ol' Glue.

It must have been a curious sight,
     while filin' through some quakie trees
Mo goes around one on the right--
     Ol' Glue, he takes the left side ---- Geeeezzzze!!!!

I got the mess all straightened out
     by cuttin' hair, the ropes untied.
Next time there's quakie trees about--
     I'll be more careful where I ride.

One might say t'was a "Train (ing) wreck".
     Was heard both up and down the trail.
Ol' Glue now sports a longer neck--
     and Mo-- he flips a shorter tail!

© 2006, Sajac
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Reproduction prohibited without the artist's written permission.
© 2006, Reneé Jackson

Read more about Sam A. Jackson and his poetry here and at his web site.  Reneé Jackson is known for her ceramics and works in a number of mediums. She has illustrated Sam's books, including the most recent, Wild and Woolly Western Verse and other Sagebrush Yarns.

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