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"Cowboy Cadence"

© 2014, Elizabeth Zimmerman

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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-eighth piece offered to "spur" the imagination is a painting, "Cowboy Cadence," by heralded Oregon artist Elizabeth Zimmerman (WesternRoseStudios.com, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)

Submissions were welcome from all through Monday, December 1, 2014. They are now closed. Selected poems are posted below.

Elizabeth Zimmerman comments, "The nimble hooves flash as they break into a lope and the cowboy moves effortlessly with his steed. Then the request to turn on a dime as they go after a calf, and the Appaloosa responds immediately because he wants to. It's the partnership of horse and rider that drew me to create 'Cowboy Cadence,' that moment when they think as one."

© 2014, Elizabeth Zimmerman; this painting should not be reposted or reproduced without permission; WesternRoseStudios.com 
Watercolor, 15" x 17"
"Cowboy Cadence"

photo by David Woody Photography

About Elizabeth Zimmerman

Elizabeth is fresh to the world of Cowboy Western Art. As a sixth-generation Oregonian, she was raised in the Willamette Valley on her parents’ 5-acre hobby farm. She had little adventures with her best friend, a Shetland/Welsh pony named Stardust.

Even though Elizabeth never grew up on a ranch, she worked for three summers at Boy Scout camps as a horse wrangler where she experienced a taste of the cowboy life. She worked near Dufur, Oregon at Camp Baldwin teaching scouts about horses and leading trail rides along with participating in the cowboy campfire reciting poems and strumming her guitar. After two years of working with the CL Bar herd of horses, she tried her hand at working in New Mexico at Philmont Scout Ranch. While in New Mexico, Elizabeth topped off horses, shoed, jingled, and participated in an 18 mile burro drive. Along the way she took many photos of the cowboys, cowgirls, horses, and the scenery to use as references for her paintings. Many of the watercolor paintings are based on these first-hand experiences.

Now, years after working as a wrangler, Elizabeth attends a couple western events a year to photograph more references for her watercolor paintings. Many of the watercolors have a story behind them, which usually features cowboys and cowgirls she has met. She first learned how to manipulate watercolors in 2005 in a class at a senior center in Eugene, Oregon. She continued her art education with an Associates of Science in Fine Art at Linn-Benton Community College in Albany, Oregon and then graduated in 2012 with Bachelors in Fine Art degree from Oregon College of Art and Craft in Portland, Oregon.

Currently, Elizabeth is working full time as a Graphic Design Assistant for a family-owned company in Portland, Oregon. She lives in Gresham, Oregon with her husband, John and cat, Dash, who accept the ever-present paintings, frames, and piles of paper that have crept out of her studio and onto the kitchen table. She accepts commissions and continues to find venues to showcase her watercolor paintings.

Elizabeth’s paintings have been shown at the Hoffman Gallery (Portland, Oregon), Thirst Bistro (Portland, Oregon), North Santiam Hall (Albany, Oregon), Fall Festival Showcase (Corvallis, Oregon), and Scandinavian Festival (Junction City, Oregon). She has received many honors, including having her art and designs featured on multiple wine labels: 2012 Oak Knoll Rose Festival Collectors Series Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, and Rosé of Pinot Noir; and Thirst Bistro's red and white table wines. Elizabeth’s art has also been recognized for honorable mention at the Yamhill Lavender Festival Plein Air Art Show (2012). Her most recent recognition is Best of Show in Watercolor at St. Paul Rodeo Wild West Art Show (2014) in St. Paul, Oregon.


Find more at WesternRoseStudios.com, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Find additional samples of Elizabeth Zimmerman's art in our feature here.


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© 2014, Elizabeth Zimmerman; this painting should not be reposted or reproduced without permission; WesternRoseStudios.com 
"Cowboy Cadence"



A Spotted Past by Marleen Bussma of Utah
The Cowboy Dance
by Victoria Boyd of California
Checkin' the Herd, by Yvonne Gresnick of Nevada
A Brief History of the Appaloosa in the West by Susan Matley of Washington
Beauty 'n Rhyme by Jim Cathey of Texas
Spot-on Perfect Balance by Tom Swearingen of Oregon
Poetry in Motion by Jean Mathisen Haugen of Wyoming
Thank You Slim by Merv Webster of Queensland



A Spotted Past

Hooves striped and swift respond in answer to a cowboy’s touch.
The appaloosa’s agile body spirals without much
direction from the rider as his instinct moves the herd.
Intelligence and speed will do the job before he’s spurred.

Precision of his work was groomed by early-day Nez Perce.
They taught this horse to speed across the prairie and traverse
beside the running bison close enough to make a kill.
The Indian brave leaned over with his bow and native skill.

The moment this horse heard the sound of arrow leaving bow
he took his cue and moved in for the target’s final blow.
He cut the bison from the herd, no falter in his feet.
Death rode along with danger ‘til the hunting was complete.

Nez Perce, selective with their mounts as told in frontier lore,
used horses deemed most valu’ble in bison hunts and war.
Superior equines needed strength with courage, brains and speed.
Unusu’l spots and markings added value to this breed.

Their greatest wartime battle came against the white man’s whim.
A reservation edict offered options that were grim.
They fled their home for freedom and from cavalry’s pursuit.
For fourteen hundred miles they labored on an ard’ous route.

The weapon that sustained them was their horse, the spotted ace.
Endurance paired with quickness gave the cavalry a chase
to last a lifetime taking four months and a human toll.
Severe and unforgiving terms had little to console

defeated Nez Perce natives stripped of homeland, hope, self-rule,
and most of all their appaloosas, felt to be a tool
of battle, being confiscated like the spoils of war.
Their living icon’s loss when sold and slaughtered seized and tore

the vital fabric of the tribe and of the horse as well.
The cavalry’s fear of this horse’s talent would compel
the passing of a law forbidding breeding of the line.
Until revoked, this law saw appaloosas’ steep decline.

A trail of dust hangs in the air and drapes the horse in dull
loose powder fading spots inherited as cattle mull
the empty, dry corral, while horse and cowboy move as one
like bison hunters on their agile ponies born to run.

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



The Cowboy Dance

Two cows break
you turn and go
Hearts and hooves
move and flow

Nothing to plan
just move as one
Your thoughts are his
till work is done

You think... he does
the cadence is sweet
your mind... his heart
down thru his feet

the sweetest dance
a cowboy knows
is "Ride yer horse
and Do-si-do"

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



Checkin' the Herd

Just looking on you sure won't see
A break between my horse and me
My subtle moves, his flick of ear
The way his moves and mine are mirrored

The unity of two to one
Will never be achieved by some
For others it is obviously
A thing they come to naturally

Push up, slow down, move here, turn there
Wind blows equally mane and hair
Our shadow struggles 'til it’s found
Our four connections, hooves to ground

But bottom line there's work to do
It's time to round a calf or two
The squeak of leather's all that heard
'Cept for the call of winter's bird

A lonely way to make a livin'
Some folks might think 'twould be a given
For ridin' out alone might seem
At least to some a loner's dream

But out here on the trail you'll find
Two separate thoughts become one mind
Two hearts, four hooves become as one
Until our long day's work is done

Alone, oh no, I'll never be
So long as I've my horse with me
We talk in ways that don't need words
As we ride along and check the herd

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



A Brief History of the Appaloosa in the West

When Spaniards stormed the New World’s keep,
in hulls of ships through ocean deep
          our hooves danced.

When caught and bred by Nez Perce tribe
for color, pattern, strength and pride
          our hooves danced.

When captured in the Cayuse raids
or bartered through more honest trade
          our hooves danced.

When Cayuse fell, reservation penned,
and Nez Perce, too, came to bitter end
the Army seized us. Some were sold
others slaughtered. Escaped, the bold
                              went wild.
          Our hooves danced.

Man reclaimed us from the range—
fed us, worked us
not much change
from the New World now called West.
Pressed in modern horsemen’s quests
          our hooves still dance.

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



Beauty an’ Rhyme

These cows had been gathered from a high meadow,
to be sorted, an’ some marked fer sale.
Brought down ahead of seasons first snow,
with its cold, an’ the wind blowin’ a gale.

Willie knowed they had this job to do,
an’ that Charlie was the best hoss to pick.
They worked together, their partnership true,
an’ this was a job they’d handle plumb slick.

He eased ol’ Charlie right into the herd,
knowin’ which cow to work, then dropped his hand.
Charlie did his part, without a spoken word,
he savvied just what his partner had planned.

‘Course they knew an’ trusted each other’s moves,
‘cuz, they’d done this work many times before.
An’ repetition always improves
yore ability in any chore.

The beauty an’ the smoothness that they showed,
as they steady peeled dry cows from that mob,
was just like a brook that trickled an’ flowed
through moss covered rock, just doin’ its job.

His eyes just smiled, as he swole up with pride,
he thanked the Good Lord fer puttin’ him here,
an’ seein’ fit to give him this fine ride.
So, he relished the moment, an’ blinked a tear.

Willie’s memory went back to a foal
that he knew would have just what it took.
An’ all that trainin’ helped him reach his goal.
Now, they could read each other like a book.

Ain’t it somethin’ when nature comes together?
An’ you got an hombre knowin’ how it’s done.
Wal, he’d lived an’ worked with his ol’ pony
‘til their workin’ is just like havin’ fun!

Now folks, this just don’t happen overnight!
They’d paid their dues, put in a bunch of time.
An’ it had paid off, they were pure delight,
poetry in motion, beauty an’ rhyme.

An’ yes, it’s normal with a hoss an’ a man,
as they build respect, and trust through the years.
Their job will just be part of life’s great plan,
an’ they’ll show no quit as time disappears.

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


Spot-On Perfect Balance

Half ounce of my direction
Half a ton of equine force
In spot-on perfect balance
Man, I love this Appy horse

Half ton of up and let's go
Coiled up about to bolt
Without a lick of warning
Could explode like unbroke colt

But there’s also half a ton
Of deep trust and want and try
That holds him here beneath me
And controls his urge to fly

What happens in this saddle
Is a magical display
Of poetry in motion
Appaloosa horse ballet

Half ton of pure excitement
Bridled by light touch of rein
Responds to my intention
Gives me feet and speed and brain

Half ounce of my direction
Half a ton of equine force
In spot on perfect balance
Man, I love this Appy horse

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



Poetry in Motion

Uncle Charlie wasn't much for pretty,
and that jugheaded appaloosa matched him.
The picture of the both of them
would nearly wreck an angel's hymn!

Charlie had to tie one hind leg up
to mount that block-headed steed

and they would go round and around
before he finished the deed.

Sometimes he had to blindfold Jughead,
but that horse was pretty smart,
he knew what was up and brewing,
and his movements were sharp and tart.

On a cold and frosty morning
near the edge of Beaver Rim

the "circus" would go on quite a while,
and Charlie christened and cussed out him

but then when he got in the saddle,
that old appaloosie would settle down

he was spotted from one end to another,
like some kind of horsy clown.

Charlie didn't dare get off him,
or the process would start once again

so he rode Jughead all day long
and they seemed good and close-up friends.

They were virtually poetry in motion,
when they'd go to cut a cow

they'd circle her back into the herd
and it was smooth
and wow

folks that didn't know what went on
thought Charlie really had a prize,
when most of time he wanted to shoot
that stubborn appaloosa between the eyes!

Well both of them are long gone now
but I've always had a bit of a notion

that somewhere up on heaven's range

Charlie and Jughead are still poetry in motion!

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


Thank You Slim

I was saddened when I saw the page that broke the news to me
and the text that told about his life in his obituary.
I had met him as a youngster all those many years ago
when I’d lost my way down life’s hard road and Slim took me in tow.

He sure had a way with horses, yes, a whisperer in fact;
his rapport with beast uncanny, like some secret sort of pact.
He and horse just worked together as they read each other well
and with little or no stress on both, as far as I could tell.

But his gentleness was not reserved to horses just alone
as he treated me just like a son, this man that I had known.
With my dad in jail and mother dead I struggled with my life
but old Slim he palled up with me and he kept me free of strife.

He could read me like his horses and sure knew just what to say
when I hadn’t handled something well and somehow went astray.
For some twenty years we travelled and we worked both side by side,
working properties along the way and took life in its stride.

And the old man he would teach me all the skills of man and horse;
that is something that I treasure and his friendship too of course.
Then I met this girl who stole my heart and Slim could plainly see
that I surely had been smitten and she was the one for me.

We then parted not long after that as he just loved to roam
but would visit us from time to time; our place a second home.
On our wedding day he gave me a young appaloosa foal
and in time we surely bonded and old Slim had played a role.

All his knowledge had rubbed off I guess and how I do enjoy
working with this marvelous animal and tactics we employ.
So I thank you Slim for being there through all those early years
and I guess I’ll tell my son, young Slim, just why I’ve got these tears.

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




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