A “Snip” About Horse Markings

I was watching an old movie the other night – okay, it was Hang “Em High with Clint Eastwood – and I noticed the truly handsome horse he was riding (bet you thought I was going to say handsome leading man). This particular sorrel horse had a nice white blaze and four matching white stockings. I once knew a cowboy who referred to horses with this particular set of markings as “having a lot of chrome.”

There are entire books on horse markings, and I could go on and on. But I thought it would be fun to just take a look at some common white markings, which can occur with many breeds and color variations, but are often found on sorrels.

On the face and head:

Blaze – stripe down the center of the face (can be narrow to wide).

Bald face – very wide blaze extending past the eyes.

Star – star or circular-shaped marking between or above the eyes.

Diamond – diamond-shaped marking between or above the eyes.

Heart – heart-shaped marking between or above the eyes.

Snip – marking on the muzzle between the nostrils.

Combinations – a mix of the above

 

   

 

On the legs and feet:

Stockings -white that extends to bottom of the knee or hock or higher. Can have one, two, three or four.

Socks – white that doesn’t extend as high as a stocking.

Pastern – white that extends above the hoof but stops below the fetlock.

Coronet – white just above the hoof.

Combinations – a mix of any of the above.

 

 

I love that many horses are named after their markings – like Blaze (there’s a well-known children’s book series about Billy and his horse Blaze), Socks, Star, and Baldy. I once owned a sorrel horse with a nice blaze and three matching stockings and named him Tiger because the blaze resembled a tiger’s arm and paw – well, if you used your imagination.

So, what might you name a horse with a unique white marking?

Westward the Women – a great classic Western romance movie

 

Like a lot of people in my generation, I grew up watching old westerns on TV. That included the classic shows like Bonanza and Big Valley. But I loved movies the best and have seen probably all of them at least once. Some many, many times.

No question, my all-time favorite is Westward the Women. Why? Because at its heart, it’s a romance. Crusty and skeptical wagon master Buck Wyatt is hired to bring a wagon train of respectable women across the country to a small California town populated entirely by men. Fifi Danon and her friend are showgirls trying to escape their current circumstances for a better life. Because “their kind” are being rejected as potential wives, the pair change clothes and masquerade as respectable women in order to join the wagon train.

 

 

From the moment the group starts out, the journey is beset with problems. Some of them are external. There’s a flood, an attack, a treacherous descent through the mountains, and a stampede. Then there are the emotional conflicts. A woman is raped. A young man is accidentally killed. A pregnant woman goes into labor. A group of men and women and abandon the wagon train, leaving the rest short-handed and defenseless. And all through their many trials, the completely inexperienced and struggling to survive women hold onto the hope that there’s a man waiting for them at the end of their destination.

 

Buck and Fifi constantly bicker. Why? Well, they’re fighting their mutual attraction. Buck is moving on to the next wagon train after this. He isn’t about to settle down, much less with a soiled dove. Fifi isn’t interested in a man who can’t see beyond her showgirl past and love her for the good person she is at heart. But, of course, they surprise each other, fall in love, and the journey teaches them both what’s really important in life.

My absolute favorite part of the movie is when the women finally arrive in town. They refuse to go any further until Buck brings them materials so that they can fashion decent clothing. They won’t meet their future husbands in torn, filthy clothes. Turns out, there’s no women’s garments in a town full of men. So, Buck returns with tablecloths and curtains and blankets and whatever else can be found, which the women then make into outfits that manage to be utterly charming.

If you’re a fan of old Western movies and haven’t seen Westward the Women, check out this gem. And then let me know what you think!

Susannah of the Mounties — Shirley Temple and Martin Good Rider

Howdy!

Welcome to a terrific Tuesday!

I grew up watching old movies (and I mean old 1930’s movies).  And one of my favorite stars from that time period was Shirley Temple.

In researching the Blackfeet Indians for the story I’m currently writing, I came across this movie, “Susannah of the Mounties,” because, outside of the two “Indian chiefs,” all the rest of the Indians cast for the movie were Blackfeet from the Blackfeet reservation in Browning.  Now, the writer of the script was not Blackfeet and so there are some things in the Indian part of the movie that just weren’t so historically. But, I love that they used Blackfeet Indians for the most part to play Blackfeet Indians.  Martin Good Rider was Shirley’s child co-star in this movie and I gotta admit both Shirley and Martin steal the show.  He, with his stoic remarks, and Shirley getting her feathers ruffled.  Below is a publicity pict. they did for the picture.

SUSANNAH OF THE MOUNTIES, from left, Shirley Temple, Martin Good Rider, 1939, TM and copyright 20th Century Fox Film Corp.

 

It was said at the time that Shirley made it a rule to not make friends with her child co-stars, but she did make friends with Martin.  And she became  friendly with other members of the Blackfeet cast, also, and earned their respect. Indeed, she was adopted into the Blackfeet tribe.

Because I write Indian romance, I rarely get to see pictures (movies) where the two characters (male and female) are actually teasing and having fun with one another.  This movie was like a breath of fresh air in that regard.  Martin’s character is almost constantly teasing Shirley and the result is cute and sometimes very funny.

Like the time she tries to walk out in front of him and he won’t go with her because (and this is true at this time period in history) Indian men DID NOT walk behind women.  They always went first and considered it their duty to do so.  They would always be the first to confront danger by doing this.

In the movie, Shirley of course doesn’t understand this and he doesn’t inform her of the custom.  But, as she is walking behind him and complaining rather louldy about it, he says, “Squaw keep quiet when walk behind Brave.”

 

Now, there were some things Martin Good Rider did really right, and I’m sure his elders were helping him with these things:

1)  The Blackfeet men wore three, not two braids.  Two in front and one in back.  They got this right in the movie.

2)  Martin does a bit of trick riding in the movie.  This was correct, also, because Blackfeet boys practically learned how to ride as soon as they could walk.

3)  There is an Indian dance scene where he is very correctly dancing in the Blackfeet traditional fashion, at least as far as I can tell.

4)  Even his clothing is correct because the traders during this time period often commented on the Blackfeet style of dress and how beautiful it was because their clothing was practically bleached white.

5)  His talk is very Blackfeet.  His grunts and groans, etc.  He would have never called her a “squaw,” however.  But, still he presented a good representation of his culture.

It really is a delightful movie and you can watch it for free on YouTube.  However, if I can find it somewhere, I will probably buy it.  I look for the old (silent) movies.  I look at the new ones, and if I do find a “romance” one, it almost always ends in a bad way.  This movie doesn’t end in a bad way and both of these characters steal the show.  Here’s a link if you’d like to watch it.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yAacHqrDZHg&t=4717s

There is almost no information about Martin Good Rider as he grew up.  He remained true to his Blackfeet heritage and made this movie his only step into the Hollywood scene as far as I can discover.

But, I was fascinated at the friendship between these two children because it practically jumps off the screen.

And, historical American Indian movies that include the American Indian male and the white female — and that actually end well — are rare, in my opinion.  I can probably count them at present on one hand, which includes a silent movie I saw recently.

And so I thought I’d tell you a little about this movie so that if you get the chance, you might sit down some evening and have a look at it.

On the screen you will see them saying lines to one another, but their friendship is obviously real and one can feel the humor between the two of them.

Well, that’s all for today.  Sure hope you enjoyed my rambling about American Indian movies.  Again, here’s a link to watch it on YouTube if you are so inclined:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yAacHqrDZHg&t=4717s

Be sure to look for my latest effort.

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It’s Game Day – with Laura Drake!

John Wayne is featured in my living room at least once a day, because my husband is a HUGE fan! I don’t watch (I have to write!) but I know many of these from sheer repetition (I have to eat sometime, right?)

All you have to do is guess the movie the quote came from to win one of my Western romances, set in the world of professional bull riding. I’ll send one each to two people who get them all right (or comes the closest) NO GOOGLING!

I’ll give you a hint:  There’s only one quote from each movie.

READY?

  1.  ‘Monsewer, words are what men live by
  2. ‘Somebody outa belt you in the mouth…but I won’t, I won’t, the hell I won’t
  3. Fill your hands you son-of-a-bitch
  4. Slap some bacon on a biscuit and let’s go! We’re burnin’ daylight!
  5. I’m a dying man, scared of the dark.
  6. “You can call me Father, you can call me Jacob, you can call me Jake. You can call me a dirty son-of-a-bitch, but if you EVER call me Daddy again, I’ll finish this fight.”
  7.  “Baby sister, I was born game, and I mean to go out that way. That shows you know more about the Lord and His Good Book than you know about men. I was proud to tell my deputy’s wife that I shot his killers.”
  8. “I guess you can’t break out of prison and into society in the same week.”
  9. “Next time you shoot somebody, don’t go near ’em till you’re sure they’re dead’’
  10. They’re famous – but they’re just a little bit dead. They were hung.

Good luck!

Okay, these are the prizes in the offing!

Left with only nightmares and an ugly physical scar, Aubrey Madison is on the road looking for a new life with more freedom. On a whim she answers an ad for a groom on a Colorado ranch. The job gives her plenty of hard work and a quiet place to heal – and it also introduces her to hot, old-school rancher Max Jameson. Max has been raising cattle and breaking horses for all his life, just like his father did before him. Now he’s faced with the fact that those skills are not enough to keep the land in the family. Bree has an idea to save the ranch, but can she risk getting attached to the land and the cowboy who comes with it?

Army medic Katya Smith is unable to get past the experience of losing a fellow soldier. She can’t go back to her unit until she can keep from melting down, so she takes a job as a medic for the pro bull riding circuit in an effort to recover her mojo. She doesn’t expect to become attached to the sport or the riders, especially the king rider of them all, Cam Cahill. Cam is a two-time world champion, but those years have taken a toll. It is time to retire, but he can’t imagine himself off the circuit. Katya does wonderful things for his body, but he is not certain he is ready for the things she does for his heart. She has made it plain this is a temp job, but if he could get her to stay, he can see a whole new future.

Fort Worth Stockyards

I wrote a blog here a while back about things to do around Dallas. One of those were the Fort worth Stockyards. Well, I can’t very well recommend somewhere I’ve never been, right? The grandkids were visiting from Panama (and getting vaccinated-dual citizens!), so we went on a day trip.

Wow, there’s something there for everyone!

First recommendation – go in early spring or fall – it gets hot there! Second, go early. We got there early enough to snag a shady parking spot, and started wandering.

Tons of shopping! Everything from tourist-trap stuff to really top end boots and attire. These guys were outside one shop, and I was tempted to take one home – instead, settled for the perfect coaster for my desk!

Then we sat on a bench beside the brick of Exchange Avenue, and waited for the cowboys to drive a herd of longhorns past! (happens daily at 11:30 & 4:00) I don’t know if you’ve ever been close to a longhorn, but they are HUGE!

They also had one saddled and standing in the shade that you could get on and grab a photo, but none of us were tempted.

We wandered, and every fifty feet or so there are stars in the sidewalk, like in Hollywood, but they’re for cowboys (and women) that helped settle the west, Western actors, even the cattle trails had one.

After a delicious lunch at Shake Shack (Didn’t know there was one in Texas!), we set off again.

Next stop, Cowtown Coliseum. They have rodeos there every Friday and Saturday night, and the kids would have loved to have seen one, but there just wasn’t time, this trip. But it’s open to the public every day, and there are still things to see there, including Sancho of the curly horns.

It’s also home to the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame – I had a blast finding all the bullriders I’ve followed for years, including the King of the Cowboys, Ty Murray. But it wasn’t only just cowboys – rodeo stock (bucking horses and bulls) are represented too!

Next stop, The John Wayne Museum. It was closed, but we went in the gift shop, and I couldn’t believe it! There was Trigger and Bullet! For you youngsters, that was Roy Rogers’ horse and Dog, from his TV show. I’d seen them at the Roy Rogers Museum in Victorville, Ca, decades before, and it was like seeing slightly macabre old friends!

 

 

 

On the way out, I couldn’t resist – I had to get on the bucking machine. Mind you, it was NOT moving. Trust me, getting up on that thing was hard enough – a sure sign I’m too old for it, but I had to get a photo!

All in all, a great, fun day – I highly recommend it! You can learn more of the details of what to do there, here.

If you make it there, send me a photo of YOU on the bucking bull!

A Promise Made; A Promise Kept

       Charles Goodnight

Last week I wrote about Lonesome Dove.  This week we’ll take a look at the inspiration for the book.

In June 1866, former Texas Ranger Charles Goodnight and cattle rancher Oliver Loving went into partnership to drive cattle to western markets.  Settlers, soldiers stationed on forts and Navajos recently placed on reservations were all demanding food supplies, and the two men took a chance that their venture would be profitable. 

They planned to drive 2000 Longhorn cattle from Texas to Wyoming on a trail that later became known as the Goodnight-Loving Trail. That meant passing through dangerous Indian territory. But given Loving’s knowledge of cattle and Goodnight’s background as a Texas Ranger and Indian fighter, the two men were confident they could succeed. 

Not only was their venture a success, but it also led to an amazing act of friendship that inspired the Pulitzer prize-winning novel, Lonesome Dove.

                    Oliver Loving

Things went well for the two men until their third drive in 1867. Heavy rains slowed them down.  To save time, Loving went ahead of the herd to secure contracts, taking a scout with him.  Despite telling Goodnight that he would travel only at night through Indian country, he rode during the day. 

That turned out to be a bad decision as he was trapped by Comanches along the Pecos River.  Though he was shot in the arm and side, he managed to escape and reach Fort Sumner.

His injuries were not life-threatening, but he developed gangrene.  The doctor at the fort was unwilling to do an amputation and Loving died.  He was buried at the fort, but that was not his final resting place. Before Loving died, he turned to his good friend Goodnight and asked that his body be returned to Texas.  He did not want to be buried in a “foreign land.”    

Goodnight promised Loving that his wish would be carried out, and that was a promise he meant to keep. But honoring his friend’s request couldn’t have been easy.

A Promise Made: A Promise Kept by Lee Cable shows Goodnight taking his friend home to Texas.

Credited with inventing the chuckwagon, Goodnight arranged for a special wagon and metal casket to be built. With the help of Loving’s son, Joseph, he had his friend’s body exhumed and carried him 600 miles back to Texas—an act of friendship matched by few. 

Loving is buried in Weatherford, Texas.

What is the truest form of friendship that you’ve experienced?

 

Boot Scootin’ Favorite Book

“Yesterday’s gone on down the river and you can’t get it back.” -Lonesome Dove

One of my favorite books is Lonesome Dove, which was made into a TV mini-series.  Written by Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove is about two retired Texas Rangers, “Gus” McCrae and “Woodrow” Call who drive a herd of cattle from Texas to Montana.  

 The Pulitzer Prize-winning story is loosely based on the true story of Charles Goodnight’s and Oliver Loving’s cattle drive from Texas to Montana. Goodnight and Loving were close friends. Before Loving died, he asked that his body be returned to Texas.  He did not want to be buried in a “foreign land.”  Charles Goodnight and Loving’s son, Joseph, carried the metal casket 600 miles back to Texas.

In Lonesome Dove, Gus dies and Call (played by Tommy Lee Jones) hauls his friend back to Texas as promised.  If this doesn’t make you cry, I don’t know what will.  

“I guess this’ll teach me to be careful about what I promise in the future.”

McMurtry originally wrote the story as a short screenplay named the Streets of Laredo.  It was supposed to star John Wayne as Call.  But Wayne dropped out and the project was abandoned. 15 years later McMurtry saw an old bus with the phrase “Lonesome Dove Baptist Church” on it.  He rushed home to revise the book into a novel and changed the name.  (Ah, inspiration.)

The book went on to win a Pulitzer Prize. The mini-series also won many awards, including a Golden Globe.  It was cheated out of the Emmy for best mini-series by War and Remembrance.  Considered the “Gone With the Wind” and “Godfather” of Western movies, Lonesome Dove has sold more DVDs than any other western.

“It’s been quite a party ain’t it?”

It’s hard to imagine anyone but Robert Duvall as Gus, but he was actually offered the role of Woodrow Call, and turned it down.  His wife had read the book and told him, “Whatever you do, don’t let them talk you into playing Woodrow F. Call.  Gus is the part you should play.”

James Garner was also considered for the role, but he had to turn it down because of health problems. 

McMurtry said that he wrote Lonesome Dove to show the real hardships of living a cattleman’s life vs. the romantic life many think they lived. Some think he failed in this regard. Instead, many readers and critics see Lonesome Dove as a celebration of frontier life. 

What is your favorite western book, movie or TV show?

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For Your Viewing Pleasure

Thanks to the pandemic, entertainment options are dwindling quickly. Usually I’m getting geared up for new fall shows about now, but this year, I’m scraping the streaming service barrels to try to find something new to watch.

I ran across a western called The Legend of 5-Mile Cave and thought I’d give it a try. It’s available to stream free for those who subscribe to Amazon Prime or you can rent it for $2.99. If you like sweet and clean, family-friendly movies, you’ll like this one. It’s a split-time story told both from the 1890’s and the Depression-era. It’s a dime novel romp come to life with adventure, romance, villains, and fancy gun play.

A mysterious drifter befriends a widow and her son just when they are about to lose their ranch to the bank. The boy loves to read pulp fiction and is immediately fascinated by his latest story – The Legend of 5-Mile Cave – and the missing gold that was never found. The drifter warns him he can’t always believe everything he reads and reveals that he knew Shooter Green, the main character of the story, and starts to tell the boy his own version of events. As they work to save the ranch, secrets are revealed that tie past to present.

This was a fun movie with a good story and subtle Christian overtones. It won’t be winning any Oscars, but it was worth the watch, especially if you enjoy wholesome westerns that remind you of the old-fashioned oaters of the 1950’s.

If you don’t have access to Amazon Prime, but do have access to Netflix, I’ll recommend another show involving horses. It’s not exactly a western. It’s more of a down under-ern.

Ride Like a Girl is the inspirational true story of Michelle Payne, the first female jockey to win the Melbourne Cup despite facing odds of a 100 to 1. She was the youngest of 10 children, raised without her mother who died when she was just 6 months old. Her father was in the racing business, so his children tended to gravitate to that world, but none more strongly than Michelle. I love watching stories about strong women who defy the odds, and if there are horses and Aussie accents involved, even better!

What have you streamed lately that you would recommend?

Damsels on Railroad Tracks

No western romance trope is more cheesy or more famous than the old Damsel on the Railroad Tracks trope. Which is why when I recently wrote a scene that ended with my heroine stuck on a railroad bridge with a train heading for her, I just had to giggle. I promise the scene is ripe with tension and believability. There is no mustachioed villain cackling in the background. And she’s not actually tied to the tracks. She doesn’t even scream for help. Though our hero is still called upon to rush in to make a daring rescue.

So how did this trope get started and how has it endured so long in tongue-and-cheek fashion?

Most people credit the damsel on the tracks to the melodramas of silent movies. However, the first time it appeared with significant impact was on stage in an 1867 play called Under the Gaslight by Augustin Daly. By 1868, the trope reportedly could be found in five different London plays all running at the same time, and remained a theatre staple for decades. But here’s the kicker. In the original story, it is a man who has been tied to the railroad tracks and a woman who rescues him!

This trope became so popular in the theatre, that even though there are no original silent movies that use this plot in a serious fashion, several used it for comedic effect. The most notable of these spoofs was a Keystone Komedy called Barney Oldfield’s Race for a Life from 1913. Note the top hat and impressive mustache on the villain. Those become staples of the trope.

Some of you will probably remember watching the classic cartoon The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, either when it aired in the 1960’s or in reruns in the 1970’s like I did. This was a silly spoof that used over-the-top villains to hilarious effect. One of the main characters on the show was the dim-witted yet heroic Mountie named Dudley Do-Right. His nemesis Snidely Whiplash wore a top hat, sported a curvy mustache, and had a tendency to tie damsels to railroad tracks. Hence the trope was preserved for a new generation.

In 1969, Ray Stevens released a song called Along Came Jones which reached #27 on the billboard charts. My husband and I are big oldies fans, so we love this silly song and have even shared it with our kids – successfully perpetuating the trope into the future.

  • Do you remember any of these songs or shows?
  • Besides the top hat and mustache, what are other villain elements that have become cliche over time?

Speaking of damsels and railroads, my Harvey House Brides novella collection, Serving Up Love, is on sale this month for only $1.99.
Grab a copy while you can!

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I’ve Got Spurs That Jingle, Jangle, Jingle & FUN GIVEAWAY

As a child, Saturdays were my favorite day of the week. I remember getting up early and rushing through chores just so I could spend the afternoons watching Westerns.  I had an unstable childhood, so I found comfort in the predictability of those old shoot em ups.  When a cowboy rode into town, you just knew he would set things straight before riding into the sunset. 

I also knew that when the camera zoomed onto the hero’s spurs as he walked into a saloon, he was sending a clear message; No one had better mess with him. 

I became fixated on spurs and for good reason. As a foster child, I was constantly being bounced from family to family. This meant I was forever having to change locations.  But the hardest part for me was having to walk into a new school, which I did more times than I can remember. This never failed to make me feel like an outsider. Because I was shy, thin as a rail, wore glasses and had red hair, I endured much teasing. No one called it bullying back then, but in modern terms that’s what it was. 

After going through an especially hard first day at a new school, I remember thinking enough was enough. Would Hoot Gibson, Ken Maynard or Bob Steele stand around while the town picked on them? They would not! Only ten at the time, I decided what I needed was spurs, just like my favorite western heroes wore. The next time I walked into a new school, my spurs would send a clear message that no one better mess with me.

Convinced I had an answer to my problem, I asked for spurs the following Christmas, but never got them.  It didn’t matter. The next time I walked into a new school, I pretended I was wearing spurs just like I’d seen one of my cowboy heroes do the previous Saturday.  They only jingled in my head but, you know what?  It worked.  Somehow the jingle-jangle sound that only I could hear helped drown out the teasing and that made me smile.  And that smile helped me do something I’d not been able to do at other schools: make new friends.  It was a lesson I never forgot.

THIS DOORMAT MIGHT NOT DETER PORCH PIRATES, BUT YOU NEVER KNOW.

 

In that spirit, I wish you all a jingle-jangle holiday season filled with lots of smiles, good friends and loving families.  May all your spurs, imagined or real, be shiny ones and bring good things your way. 

For a chance to win this “don’t mess with this house” doormat, tell us what movie or TV show made an impression on you as a child?   

 

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