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© 2013, Jason Rich


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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 or a song.  In Art Spur, we invite poets and songwriters to let selections of Western art inspire their poetry and songs.

Our thirty-seventh piece offered to "spur" the imagination is a painting, "End of Day," by noted Utah artist Jason Rich (jasonrichstudios.com; Facebook). The painting is selected as the official poster for the thirteenth annual Cowboy Poetry Week, 2014. 

Submissions were welcome from all through April 14, 2014. Selected poems are below.

© 2012, Jason Rich; this painting should not be reposted or reproduced without permission; www.jasonrichstudios.com
Oil,  32x40
"End of Day"


© 2013, Jason Rich Studios; jasonrichstudios.com
Web reproduction permitted for Cowboy Poetry Week promotion with the credit line included:
"End of Day" © 2013, Jason Rich Studios, jasonrichstudios.com  Cowboy Poetry Week 2014, CowboyPoetry.com"
 Publications, email us for high resolution print reproduction information.


Jason Rich has been quoted, "Every painting starts with the horse for me—the way the light catches its gesture and movement."

About Jason Rich
from jasonrichstudios.com

Jason grew up on a small farm in southern Idaho riding, training and drawing horses. Western roots and artistic passion influenced his decision to complete undergraduate and master's degrees in art at Utah State University and pursue art professionally.

For eighteen years Jason has established himself in the western art market in many prestigious shows and galleries-winning awards, accolades and feature exposure in esteemed publications for his distinct depiction of western life. Rich rides alongside cowboys working the corrals or packing through the mountains then combines experience, imagination and research to depict authenticity of the cowboy way.

Jason and his wife Kari have three children and live in the Cache Valley area of northern Utah on a small horse ranch. They are active in the community and their faith, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and love to bike the open roads near their home.

Kari is a published author, a columnist for The Herald Journal, a blogger at kari-on.com, and a freelance writer and graphic designer.

Recent awards and recognition include Silver Medal in Oil Painting, Cowboy Artists of America Art Exhibition and Sale 2013; Jackson Hole Arts Festival, Poster Artist 2013; Heber Valley Cowboy Poetry Gathering, Poster Artist 2012; Silver Medal in Oil Painting, Cowboy Artists of America Art Exhibition and Sale 2012; TCAA Award "Best Portrayal of a Cowboy Subject," Cowboy Artists of America Art Exhibition and Sale 2012. Jason Rich became a Cowboy Artists of America Member in October, 2011.

Jason Rich's work has been featured in Art of the West, Cowboys and Indians, Southwest Art, Western Art Collector, on the cover of Western Horseman, and in many other publications.

Find more at www.jasonrichstudios.com, on Facebook, and at Cowboy Artists of America.

Find additional samples of Jason Rich's art in our feature here.


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© 2012, Jason Rich; this painting should not be reposted or reproduced without permission; www.jasonrichstudios.com

Oil,  32x40
"End of Day"



Silent Partners by Don Hilmer of South Dakota

The Cowboy's Handbook by Marleen Bussma of Utah

Different Propositions by Stuart Hooker of New Mexico

Before Day's End by Susan Matley of Washington

Prime Time by Jean Mathisen Haugen of Wyoming

Bein' a Neighbor by Susie Knight of Colorado

Before Day's End by Tom Swearingen of Oregon

In the Middle of Nowhere by Dale Page of Indiana

Fixing Fence by Del Gustafson of Washington

Day Dreamin' by Jim Cathey of Texas

Compensation by Merv Webster of Queensland



Silent Partners

     As plains and badlands meet foothills and mountains
And streams tri
ckle down from the snow covered fountains
     The sun and the moon light the earth and the sky
And the coyote and eagle each sends out their cry

     You can’t help but wonder—could there be a way
To explain how you’ll feel by the end of the day?

     Cause you’ll whisk off the frost from your bridles and saddle
And ride out at daybreak to gather stray cattle
     You’ll push ‘em toward water in the heat of the day
And hold ‘em past noon so they don’t break away

     You’ll trot in ‘bout sunset—your back's to the wind
Just thinkin’ “This life makes good horses and men.”

     No need for explainin’ your feelings by then
The horses are tired and so are the men
     We’ll all understand by the end of the day
That we’re all “silent partners”—We like it that way.

© 2014, Don Hilmer
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's permission.


The Cowboy's Handbook

The saddle creaks in rhythm to the gelding’s steady gait.
The sun sends soothing warmth as horses slowly ambulate
descending Copper Mountain on a chilly, crisp June morn’.
The trail is dirt-dry dusty and the men are weatherworn.

They’ve made good time while herding horses down the foothill’s knoll,
despite the riding rigors of the saddles’ rock n’ roll.
The dance has lasted sev’ral days and aged the cowhands’ bones.
When they get back to camp they’ll sing a weary tune of moans.

The gelding’s ears are tracking sounds that Ben’s have yet to hear.
The screams of wild mustangs rouse a sense of primal fear.
The horse pulls up his head alert to danger still unseen.
It lurks and lies in wait within a rocky rough ravine.

A mustang colt has fallen through a heedless open hole,
a remnant of the mining days that waits and takes a toll.
The frantic mare paws at the ground demanding clemency.
The stallion’s snake-like head nips at her flanks to make her flee.

The cowboys now can see what trees have hid from mortal eyes.
The agitated anxious mare pounds frenzied feet beside
the hole that breathes with high-pitched squeals of unfamiliar fright.
The stallion urges her to leave and join his herd in flight.

The dust is churned and rocks are struck as each one seeks its goal.
The mare, insistent that she stay, won’t leave behind her foal.
By now the horse herd wary of the conflict slows its pace.
The cowboys ease them to a stop, within a sheltered place.

The situation’s tricky and Ben knows they must take care
if choosing to help out a careless colt and manic mare.
The clash of Titans rages as the mare and stallion brawl.
Distractions will be needed to break up their caterwaul.

Ben finds a partner willing to confront the dang’rous scene.
They take their swinging lariats and ride to the ravine.
The stallion does not challenge the intruders who advance,
but canters to his herd without a watchful backward glance.

The mare looks on, eyes wide with fear, as lariats swing high.
They do their job to push her back from offspring left nearby.
Ben’s partner keeps the mare at bay while Ben checks out the pit.
Relieved, he sees the colt is mobile, bold and full of grit.

A shelf of dirt helped break the fall preventing injury.
Ben quickly comes up with a plan to get the young colt free.
He takes his lariat then dallies, holding very tight.
A backward crawl down through the hole ends with a token fight.

The colt resists Ben’s handling having never seen a man,
nowhere to run gives Ben a break as he sees to his plan.
The rope is tied just like a cinch then Ben yells toward the sky.
His horse begins to pull his payload. Ben bangs up his thigh

while crawling like a caterpillar hanging to the rope.
The horse and man, as one, inch skyward up the steep, sheer slope.
The deadweight drags, reluctant to desert the played-out pit.
Ben’s head escapes the hole just as the colt will not submit

to any further handling while he struggles to be free.
Ben rolls out on the ground and holds the colt down with his knee.
The lariat is quickly cleared. Ben scrambles for his horse.
The mare is done with man’s restraint. She’ll not be held by force.

The gelding and companion dash a distance from the scene.
The mare now tending to her colt looks calm, almost serene.
Ben shakes his head and chuckles at the chances they just took
to write a page unheard of in the cowboy wrangler’s book.

© 2014, Marleen Bussma
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Different Propositions

Drivin' cows and horses are two different propositions,
Dependin' on the weather and such other range conditions,
Old cows will try to stop and hide along the way,
A horse is gonna mess with you, he's read your dossier;

A cow don't try to figure out a cowboy none at all,
But horses know each cowboy from their hat down to their drawl,
They know who really wants to stop and roll himself a smoke,
From the corral they've heard you tell your favorite wore out joke;

Right from the start they will take off releasin' energy,
As you try hard to stay with them, they slow down, gen'rally,
But gentle cows drift to the back you got to push them on,
While someone holds the fast ones up, or else they'll all be gone;

For daily work I'll drive them cows but horses can be fun,
'Lest to their quirky little tricks you happen to succumb,
Long after the long drive is done a horse is still your friend,
But cows that live out on the range don't want you 'round again.

© 2014, Stuart Hooker
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


End Of Day

This day’s been a tough one, not gone as planned.
That wily old cow pulled one of her tricks,
led half the herd back from spring grazing land
and broke a man’s leg with one of her kicks.

Once that mess was settled some fence wire snapped
as a cow being doctored made her escape.
By noon that was resolved. The next mishap
came courtesy of nature, the landscape

blown to dust-blinding chaos by the wind.
Horses and cowboys alike choked and sneezed
as hard-flying grit dented worn-out grins
that prayed the whirlwind would die to a breeze.

But at last the day was done.

The ponies caught the scent of barn,
sensed the mood of their riders shift.
Bound for home and listening to yarns
the ponies’ work-worn legs grew swift.

High-stepping equine spirits circled back
to their riders. Human spirits rose, too,
as they followed the well-worn homeward track,
horses and riders headed for curfew.

It’s end of day. The work, for now, is done,
labors set aside with west-sinking sun.
Horses to pasture, cowboys to their chuck.
Fire-lit tall tales predict tomorrow’s luck.

© 2014, S. D. Matley
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Prime Time

Oh, there are coats of many colors
on those horses Bob's moving in—
some will dodge and dry to break rank
and he moves them back with a grin.
That paint is rather ornery
and dodges this way and that,
that cowboy hollers at him
and whops him with his hat.
It purely is God's country
with those mountains rising high,
painted purple, blue and shadowed,
and spring is coming nigh.
Watch that buckskinshe's expecting,
and the young one's due anytime.
That handsome sorrel is it's daddy
with a coat that's purely prime.
There are coats of many colors
as Bob's moving in the herd
enjoying his long-lived lifestyle
without even saying a word.

© 2014, Jean Mathisen Haugen
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's permission.


Bein' a Neighbor

It's a bluebird day on the western slope of the Rocky Mountains this morn.
This is the home where I was raised; this is the place I was born.

Don't visit big cities like that Denver town; don't ask what's beyond the Divide.
I have all that I'll ever need or I'll want in these meadows where daily I ride

my good buckskin geldin'. I've had him for ages. He's under my saddle each day.
There's always good reason to tack him up early to make sure he's earnin' his pay.

This mornin', for instance, I'm ridin' to help out a neighbor who called late last night.
He heard there's a snowstorm that's brewin' in Utah; he's more than concerned that it might

push his Quarter Horse broodmares well into the canyons in pastures way out toward the east.
With their backs to the wind, they'd seek out a low spot 'n wait till the storm has decreased.

But snow drifts could bunch up so high that the mares would get socked in without a way out.
They'd die within days without feed 'n fresh water. We both agreed there was no doubt

that we'd saddle up early 'n gather 'em slow to his home in this calm 'fore the storm.
It's hard to believe that a blizzard is brewin'. This mid-April day is so warm!

But that's what it's like in western slope mountains; you never know when it may snow.
We beat Nature's fury, at least for the moment, with Mamas-to-be all in tow.

Don't do this for money; we all work together. It ain't about makin' a buck.
I wonder if Big City folks help their neighbors whenever they're down on their luck.

© 2014, Susie Knight
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's permission.



Before Day’s End

Can barely see the outline
Of a hand against dawn sky
But still, daylight is burning
So "Wake up boys!" comes the cry

With a long day still ahead
If we move now we'll get home
To be with those who miss us
So let's get 'em on the roam

With four days ride behind us
Just this one more lies ahead
So keep these horses moving
And tonight we'll see our bed

Now's not the time to linger
So "Come on boys look alive!"
We’ve miles to close 'fore nightfall
So let's keep 'em on the drive

We can just 'bout feel the warmth
Of the home ranch woodstove fire
So keep 'em trailing homeward
We'll soon have what we desire

A hot meal, can't you taste it?
And the comfort of a chair
So keep 'em headed down range
And by dusk we should be there

There's chimney smoke arisin’
From the canyon ‘round the bend
We've done it boys! Brought 'em in
We’ll be home before day's end

© 2014, Tom Swearingen
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's permission.



In the Middle of Nowhere

I woke in the middle of nowhere
And there’s nowhere that I’d rather be.
I don’t give two bits for a city;
I would rather be here and be free.

I know why the birds sing each morning,
And where elk go to hide in the day.
This life is the one I have chosen,
But I see it is fading away.

I understand screaming bald eagles
And I savvy the coyote’s sad tune.
They’re going the way of the bison
And the stench of the towns will come soon.

I lived for a while in seclusion
And I saw not a man all that time.
Those wide, open places I once knew
Have been spoiled without reason or rhyme.

The campfires I shared with amigos
Have burned out like the fire of my youth.
Most all of my friends have crossed over
And I’m gettin’ quite long in the tooth.

The serpents of progress keep coming;
Though I’m faster, I know I can’t hide.
But they’ll only see dust on my back trail
When I finally top the divide.

Good riddance to motors and gadgets!
Adios to the clock; I’ll be free.
I’ll leave all the noise and the hustle
And go back to how things used to be.

Don’t grieve when my journey is ended.
My life’s just not the same any more.
I reckon I won’t miss this world here
When I see what the next has in store.

I wonder each night if the sunset
Is the last one I’ll lay my eyes on.
If so, plant me right where you find me.
It won’t matter, ‘cause I will be gone.

© 2014, Dale Page
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's permission.



Fixing Fence

Everything went wrong and this past week was hard and long
We jumped into the pickup for a day of rest in town
We got home kinda late and when we reached the ranch gate
We didn’t see the brood mares and a stretch of the fence was down.

We thought they’d be grazing near but we’d had a little beer
And we knew we couldn’t track them in the darkness of the night.
We thought the mares might come back so we all hit the sack
Thinking we’d saddle up and hunt them at the first morning light.

The boss rolled us out of bed and after we were fed
We saddled up our horses and then rode out to look around.
We followed the fence line, hoping that we’d cut their sign
There were a lot of fresh horse tracks but the mares could not be found.

We hoped to find them soon but it was late afternoon,
Before we caught up with them and they gave us a good hard run,
We wasted the whole day and there’d be hell to pay,
Since we’d been out chasing brood mares no ranch work had got done.

The boss was blaming me for those mares out running free,
Cussing under his breath and things were really getting tense.
He said the thing that I know is about a week ago,
The mares were rubbing on it and I sent you to check that fence.

I’d been told to check that line and thought that it looked fine,
I didn’t look at every pole though I’m sure I looked at most.
I missed a few of course, just checking it from my horse,
Because I never once dismounted to wiggle every post.

For my recompense the boss wants me to fix that fence,
While the other hands are resting up or are in town having fun.
So I’m out here digging holes and setting all new poles,
He’s hoping I’ve learned my lesson before this fencing job is done.

I can only figure using this post hole digger
Digging down in this hard rocky soil for each and every pole
There is no way of proving these rocks aren’t moving
And the digging only riles them up and attracts them to the hole.

© 2014, Del Gustafson
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's permission.


Day Dreamin’

We had rested these ponies
in the high meadow feed,
to get them in plenty good shape
to meet a puncher’s need.

A good place to laze aroun’
jest watchin’ that ol’ herd.
While dreamin’ ‘bout them gals in town
with voices sweet as a song bird.

Leavin’ camp was a bummer,
‘cuz you ain’t much to roam.
It’s a good place to spend summer,
tho, yore shore ready to go home.

An’ now its fall gather time,
so they’ll need these fresh mounts,
an’ they’ll get ‘em in full prime,
‘course ol’ Boss will check our counts.

But he’ll find they tally out,
tho it was purty close
when that ol’ lion came through,
them ponies ran like ghosts.

Curly an’ I fetched ‘em in,
an’ the count was just right.
They were still nervous in that pen,
kept stirrin’ pert near all night.

We worked ‘em hard next day,
to calm ‘em down a bit.
An’ most of ‘em did okay,
‘cept that sorrel thowed a fit!

An’ that dang white was wild eyed,
but we got ‘em straightened out.
Some shore gave us a stiff ride,
but the result was never in doubt.

We had broke camp at daylight,
in the crisp mountain air.
Plan to make midpoint afore night,
with ‘ol Molly as the lead mare.

Got ‘em headed out after chuck,
made good time there at first.
Figgered it would be just our luck
fer that bubble to burst.

The day had gone some easy,
just ploddin’ down the trail.
Ol’ ponies stumblin’ along
in mountain air’s sweet smell.

It shore is purty up here,
why, a feller never tires
of sights, both far an’ near,
early morn, late day, or campfires.

‘Cuz all around, for one to see,
wherever you may look,
is plenty of God’s beauty.
Pictures for any book!

It’s like that at end of day,
when yore a headin’ west,
lookin’ twixt yore horses ears…
ahhh! This life is shore the best!

© 2014, Jim Cathey
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's permission.



When my granddad came and settled in this country years ago
there were others who had come as well and most would have to know,
there was no way one could get to pick the neighbor that one drew
and I have to say the Tarboxes they were a real tough crew.

Even back in grandpa’s day he’d battled with that cunning mob
and believe me keeping up with old man Tarbox was a job.
He was never one to stick to nat’ral increases with stock
and that’s how his herd had grown throughout those years upon his block

Whether cows and calves or horses, to that clan they had no shame
and for years now Tarbox and his kin had carried on this game.
But there were the odd times I can say we gained the upper hand
and we found our stock before they had the chance to change the brand.

When they mustered near our bound’ry they would always force some stock
over on our land as that was their excuse to cross and dock
some of our herd and then pushed them back, which took a lot of skill,
but would always bring about half back, a gesture of good will.

So besides the daily chores we had of caring for our spread
we would have to keep our eyes about and stay a step ahead.
Then some days back I had noticed those some horses went astray
that the boys and I had broken in a month ago today.

They were spelling in a pasture near the foothills of the range
and I sensed foul play was on the cards but that was nothing strange
as the paddock shared a boundary fence with our old mates next door
and I guess they couldn’t help themselves of that I’m pretty sure.

We were searching ’long the fence line when a cry came from a hand
as he’d noticed in the distance on Tarbox’s neighboring land
a small column of smoke rising from a gully that had been
fenced and hidden by tree branches so the rails could not be seen.

We then crept along the gully’s bank until we saw below
old man Tarbox and his eldest son and strike me wouldn’t you know
they were sitting drinking coffee and discussing how they planned
they would sell them to a buyer after they had changed each brand.

After waiting til they mounted and had ridden out of sight
we then dropped the rails and boundary fence and much to our delight
walked the horses back onto our land though had in mind a ploy
to upset the horse thieves efforts and this job we would enjoy.

I remembered they’d culled mustangs near the range twelve months before
so collected piles of white bleached bones, though didn’t mind the chore,
as we’d spread them round the gully so the thieves would find them there.
You might say it’s compensation for those cunning, thieving pair.

We restrained the fence and took our time in walking that mob home
to a pasture closer to the house where they could safely roam
and I couldn’t help but snigger at the image in my mind
of old Tarbox in that gully and the bones that he would find.

© 2014, Merv Webster
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's permission.

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