Jimmy Stewart’s Best Horse Friend

Once upon a time, a little girl named Stevie Myers, who happened to be the daughter of a man who wrangled horses for cowboy actor Tom Mix, owned a sorrel Arabian and quarter horse mix named Sweetie Pie. This may not seem like anything all that special, but, trust me, it was. For Pie, as he was dubbed by Jimmy Stewart, was one of the most featured horses in films during the heyday of westerns.

For a period of twenty-two years, Jimmy Stewart rode Pie in a total of seventeen films. Some of the more famous ones are:  Broken Arrow (1950), The Man from Laramie (1955), The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962), How the West Was Won (1962), and The Cheyenne Social Club (1970). In addition to Jimmy Stewart, Pie was also ridden by Kirk Douglas, Audie Murphy, Glenn Ford, Richard Widmark, Yvonne DeCarlo, and Yul Brynner. That’s quite a resume for a horse on the small side, who was said to be very choosy when it came to who he liked, and uncooperative when he didn’t much care for his rider.

He loved Jimmy Stewart, however, and Jimmy Stewart loved him. The actor was able to get Pie to perform on command even when his trainer wasn’t around. One of the most famous stories about Jimmy Stewart and Pie’s incredible rapport happened during the filming of The Far Country (1955). Pie was supposed to walk down the middle of the street alone, without a rider, with a bell ringing. Before the cameras started rolling, Jimmy Stewart took Pie aside and whispered in his ear, telling the horse to what to do. When Pie was released, the horse perfectly executed the instructions and in only one take. Everyone was amazed.

It’s said Jimmy Stewart tried to buy Pie from Stevie, but she wouldn’t part with the horse. Henry Fonda, who was good friends with Jimmy Stewart, painted a picture of the horse, and it hung in the Stewarts’ home for many, many years. Jimmy Stewart also wrote a poem about Pie which was included in his much-treasured book, Jimmy Stewart and His Poems. And though he was never able to buy the horse, Pie was buried on the Stewart ranch after his death at the ripe old age of thirty.


What Defines a Cowboy?

I needed another photo and thought we could use a picture of a good looking cowboy.

Webster’s defines a cowboy this way. (1) one who tends cattle or horses (2) a rodeo performer (3) one having qualities (such as recklessness, aggressiveness, or independence) popularly associated with cowboys: such as aa reckless driver ba business or businessperson operating in an uncontrolled or unregulated manner. The first two are obvious and I agree, but the last definition? Who wrote that? Aggressive? Reckless driver? Maybe they’re confusing cowboy with renegade? I don’t know. But they don’t see the same “qualities” I see in a cowboy. And I refuse to even discuss the businessman one. The only part that definition has right is independent. In my opinion, Merriam-Webster blew it by failing to see what else makes a cowboy.

First, being aggressive makes me think of a bully. When I think of a cowboy, I think of John Wayne in movies where his character stood up for those who needed a champion. Big Jake and The Cowboys come to mind as examples. He stands up for what’s right, does what needs to be done no matter what the personal cost, and he certainly isn’t a reckless driver. See me shaking my head over this one yet again. He may take a risk, but he’s not reckless or as Webster says, “acting without thinking or caring about the consequences of an action.”

A cowboy possesses what some today call old-fashioned manners and values. They’re willing to work hard and can be counted on to finish the job. The words “yes, ma’am” are part of their vocabulary, and more importantly, used. No matter what their age, they call their parents’ friends Mr. and Mrs. to show respect. When I wrote my first novel with a cowboy hero Big City Cowboy, (which happened to be the only idea of that type I had at the time), the inciting incident forced my hero to go to New York to model. However, I wanted a reason other than to save his ranch. I asked myself what a cowboy loved more than his ranch or his horse. The answer his mom popped into my head. For me, that’s the kind of values a cowboy possesses. He values hard work, family, his heritage, and respects women.

But I write non-traditional cowboy heroes. Not all of them live or even grew up on a ranch. I think my expanded definition of a cowboy resulted from my son going to Texas A&M University. While there he became more “western,” more cowboy-like. Though looking back, I see glimpses when in high school he worked at the Heritage Farmstead, a historical farm and museum, and drove a tractor. But I started seeing the “cowboy” in him more when he attended A&M. Mainly because the culture at the university and in College Station, Texas, has a lot in common with cowboy values. It’s why my Wishing, Texas series has cowboy in the title despite not all those heroes living or growing up on a ranch.

So, back to good old Merriam-Webster. What are your thoughts on a cowboy? Does he have to be someone who owns a ranch, grew up on one, or competes in rodeos?  What do you think makes a man a cowboy?

That last thing I’ll say is, the trick is how to weed out a nontraditional cowboy from those who are all hat and no cattle. But I’ll save that discussion for another day.


Riders of the Purple Sage – 5 Movie Versions

We went out to dinner with friends a couple weekends ago and had a lovely time. One topic of discussion that came up was the famous western author Zane Grey and how many times his book, Riders of the Purple Sage was made into a movie. I insisted it was five, while one of our companions was certain it was four. Well, I was correct. But the real takeaway from this story is that a classic western book has been into a movie five times. That’s pretty impressive.

The first was in 1918 and starred William Farnum and Mary Mersch. Yes, it was a silent movie.


The second was in 1925 and starred Tom Mix (a very popular cowboy actor who appeared in 291 films) and Mabel Ballin. This was also a silent movie.

The third, the first movie with sound, was in 1931 and starred George O’Brien and Marguerite Churchill.

The fourth was in 1941 and starred George Montgomery (married to Dinah Shore and once engaged to Hedy Lamar) and Mary Howard (a founding member of Recording for the Blind.

The fifth and last was in 1996 and starred Ed Harris and Amy Madigan. This was a TV movie and not a theatrical release.

Other interesting tidbits about this book. In 1952, Dell released a comic book version. It was also adapted into an opera by compose Craig Bohmler — our dinner companion knew and offered up this fact. Three separate western bands have gone by the name Riders of the Purple Sage. Lastly, the author breaks a huge rule by telling the story from an anonymous third-person, omniscient point-of-view.

I’ve watched the 1931, 1941 and 1996 movies, though years ago. I’m thinking now I need to search online and find out if there’s a way I can watch the first two. Would be interesting comparing them to the others.

How One Movie Scene Created a Fictional Family

Please welcome Tina Wheeler to the Petticoats and Pistols Corral today.

I watched way too much television growing up. Okay, I still watch more than I should, but in my defense, I’m a visual learner and seeing characters in settings helps me build my fictional world.

I come from a military/law enforcement family, so I already had a solid grasp of alpha males who own guns. Watching mysteries with my mother influenced my desire to include a puzzle in my novels. But why cowboys?

When writing my debut, Love Inspired Suspense, I created the Walker family and their ranch outside Sedona. Jackson, Cole and Zach are brothers who are the fictional embodiment of all the heart-stopping cowboys I’ve seen on television and their finer qualities. I’m an Arizona girl, born and raised. Every time we hosted out-of-state visitors, we headed to Old Tucson Studios to watch cowboy gunfights with stuntmen falling off buildings. Five hundred movies had scenes filmed there, including four John Wayne Westerns. Feeding my love for cowboys were TV shows like Bonanza, The Big Valley, Gunsmoke, The Virginian, The Wild Wild West, The Rifleman, and The High Chaparral which was filmed at Old Tucson.

Man in coat on the wind

My absolute favorite movie scene of all time is in Tombstone. Kurt Russell, Bill Paxton, Sam Elliott, and Val Kilmer (playing the Earp brothers and Doc Holliday) are walking down the dusty town road toward the O.K. Corral to reenact the famous thirty-second shootout. They’re wearing mostly black with their cowboy hats and boots, but it’s the black duster coats that complete the image. My heart skips a beat every time I watch that scene. I could replay it a hundred times. The Earps were close brothers, cowboys, and lawmen. Together, they bravely protected the town. Yes, they had their flaws, but in that moment, they were four strong, good-hearted men about to prove that good conquers evil. Yesterday, we had the Earps. Today, we have the Walker brothers.


Ranch Under Fire, a Publishers Weekly Bestseller

A witness on the run.

A mission to survive.

Fleeing after witnessing a shooting in her office, Bailey Scott must rely on cowboy Jackson Walker for protection when the gunman turns his sights on her. With a drug ring determined to silence her, Jackson promises to protect her at his ranch. But he’s an undercover DEA agent with secrets he can’t reveal. Can he take down the criminals before their pursuers lead them straight into an inescapable trap?

More About Tina:

Tina Wheeler is an inspirational romantic suspense author and retired teacher. Although she grew up near a desert in Arizona, her favorite place to plot a new story is on a balcony overlooking the ocean. She enjoys spending time with her large extended family, brainstorming with writing friends, discovering new restaurants, and traveling with her husband. Visit authortinawheeler.com to read more.

To buy a copy of Ranch Under Fire click here.


Tina is giving away a copy of Ranch Under Fire. To enter the random drawing, leave a comment about your favorite cowboy, real or fictional.


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


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.

BLUE THUNDER AND THE FLOWER:  Amazon: https://tinyurl.com/4k6ahyfr

KOBO: https://tinyurl.com/3abxfuh

B & N: https://tinyurl.com/exadvx7n

Google:  https://tinyurl.com/uavkxz4

ITUNES: https://tinyurl.com/w2z7adxk

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.


  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?