A memoir about a maverick cowboy and a herd of wild horses by H. Alan Day and Lynn Wiese Sneyd

Posts by Lynn

The Western Way Magazine – Winter 2015

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The Western Way Magazine – Winter 2015

View the review of The Horse Lover in the Winter 2015 The Western Way...

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Arizona Daily Star – 10 standout titles that rose to the top of the stack

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Arizona Daily Star – 10 standout titles that rose to the top of the stack

The Horse Lover was mentioned in Arizona Daily Star on Jan. 4, 2015 as one of the 10 standout books in 2014.

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So Now What Do I Do? A Cowboy Ponders Round-Up

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So Now What Do I Do? A Cowboy Ponders Round-Up

Today’s post is written by author L.D. Bergsgaard, who currently lives in sunny Arizona, but for many years braved the Minnesota winters. Larry is a retired Special Agent with unique experiences adding a rare dimension to the crime story genre. Fellow writer William Henry says, “There are many authors who dream of being cops. Few do. There are many cops who strive to write. Few can. L.S. Bergsgaard is the rare exception of a street harden cop who can write like a poet.” In addition to writing crime novels, Larry also pens some darn good western stories. By L. D. Bergsgaard I had spent the better part of a year preparing to rope my first calf at round-up. I had, so I figured, paid my dues on the ground, what with flanking calves, notching ears, and generally getting in the way during branding. I looked up to those cowboys on horseback as they effortlessly roped the calves and brought them to guys and gals waiting in the corral with inoculations, branding irons, and razor sharp knives. Perhaps it was a desire to escape the flaying hoofs, the aching back, and the bruises. Maybe it was latent ambition to prove my worth and earn the title “Cowboy.” So I set about my goal; next year I would be astride my horse and roping. It was a tall order for a number of reasons. First, I am by nature an autodidact, a self-learner. I read books, looked at photos, and watched videos. Second, my buckskin mare needed to learn the secrets of working cows. Turns out she was a faster learner than me. Soon we were putting the moves on those plastic Corrientes that would turn Tee Woolman green with envy. I could, with great accuracy, rope either end of the plastic dummies who hadn’t learned to duck off. I could dally with lightening speed and my faithful mare would back up and hold them still. In short, we were ready. By May, I was ready to display my talents to Old Gus, a lifelong rancher. Now riding only his golf cart he watched, flashed a crooked smile, and offered a few suggestions like roping my own horse’s legs. Was this some practical cowboy joke? No, he assured me, once the action begins in the corral you’re as apt to rope your horse as a bovine. I had my doubts but added that to my resume of skills anyway. The cattle and their offspring were very cooperative during the roundup and cattle drive from the harsh mesas to the home ranch. As I rode drag, I envisioned snaring the straggling youngsters with my lariat. I was sure it would all come together the next day in the corral. I sat tall in the saddle as I rode into the arena. I acknowledged those left on the ground with a tip of my straw hat and rode in among the cattle that were milling and mooing in anticipation. “Get’em boys!” Old Gus shouted from the...

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One Happy Wild Horse

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One Happy Wild Horse

By H. Alan Day In 1989, the Bureau of Land Management shipped 1500 wild horses to my ranch in South Dakota, the first government-sponsored wild horse sanctuary. These were “unadoptables,” the horses that the public did not want to adopt. Many were one-eyed, crippled, scarred, and just plain old. But some of the horses were young, and some of them even beautiful.One horse in particular stood out in the herd. He was a strong black and white paint about 18 hands tall. He had white fetlocks and a white tail. A splotch of white swopped from mid-neck down around his shoulders, almost to his belly. If it had been further back, it would have looked exactly like a white saddle. A white streak ran the length of his nose. The rest of him was pitch black. We named him Happy for his demeanor. Happy preferred to hang out on the periphery of the herd, rather than in a family unit like the majority of horses belonged to. Maybe his coloring make him a pariah among his peers or maybe something inside him, a feeling of uniqueness or the desire to be a loner, pushed him to the edge of his community. If he had been human, he might have chosen to live off the grid or explore the world alone, a backpack his only possession. He was the philosopher, the Thoreau of the horses, who galloped to the beat of his own drum. But he did it with a smile and a sense of contentment. Almost every visitor at the ranch commented on him. The BLM reps that visited quarterly even knew him. “Happy’s looking good,” they would say. When I rode out to check on the herd, Happy always landed on my radar first. If I rode within a few feet of him, close, he would raise his head and chew a hello. He never invited being petted or loved on, but I believe he loved us in his own way. One time while the cowboys and I moved the herd across the Little White Rive, Happy decided to meander upstream and splash in the fresh water. When I went to gather him, he willingly obliged, a twinkle in his eye and a grin and his face. “You’re a funny guy,” I said to him. Out of the blue, the BLM, an agency always scouting for positive publicity, decided they wanted Happy as their poster child. Someone had the brilliant idea of sprucing up the Flathead Lake area of Montana, a remote but popular fishing area. The lake had a large island, named Wild Horse Island, and this dreamer envisioned making fishermen and tourists very happy by showcasing a painted mustang on the island. “Are you telling me you’re deporting Happy to an island in some godforsaken northern part of Montana?” I said to the BLM rep on the phone, who had just told me about the absurd plan. I tried arguing but to no avail. By contract, the BLM had...

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From Horse Lover to Museum Relic

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From Horse Lover to Museum Relic

I was eager to get up to Tempe. The Arizona Historical Society had invited me to give a presentation about The Horse Lover book to their donors and members at their museum in Papago Park. Various family members from Prescott, Santa Fe, and Houston had decided to come into town and attend. The museum has a number of historical items related to Sandra and her amazing career and also to the Lazy B Ranch where the two of us were raised, and I was eager for everyone to see them. I also wanted to show the family the O’Connor House, the original home that Sandra and her husband John had built in Paradise Valley in the late 1950s. The adobe bricks were made out of mud from the Salt River and the floors were poured concrete, an uncommon material back in those days. In 2009, after much negotiating and fundraising, the home was moved brick by brick, shingle by shingle, to the Historical Society’s campus and is now used to encourage civil discourse. It’s always a delight for me to visit the house. When I arrived at the museum, it didn’t take me long to catch site of a small glass-enclosed exhibit positioned close to the entrance. I walked over to examine the items in it and was hit by a full-blown case of nostalgia. There sat my old cowboy hat, the one I wore everyday while working the cattle horseback or doing one of a hundred other jobs demanded of a rancher. Just in front of it was the beautiful horsehair rope that Jim Brister, one of our longtime cowboys and my personal hero, had hand woven. And there were my dad’s spurs, the ones that he wore for at least 50 years. The fact that they didn’t match touched a special place in my heart. And finally, the display included a Lazy B branding iron, old, rusted and well-used. These four special items unleashed a flood of memories. The thing that overwhelmed me most, however, was a realization of just how old I am. Museum artifacts are almost always from people who are dead; the objects memorialize the individuals. Although the ranch that these objects came from is no longer in the family, Sandra and I are still alive. It takes some thinking to accept the fact we are so old that objects, which are part of our life, are objects of historical significance. We may be part of history, but I don’t feel old enough to be memorialized in a museum. So I made sure to give a vital talk. It was a ton of fun and afterward, the family visited the restored O’Connor House with Sandra as docent guide.We may be in museums, but we’re still determined to make history as much as we...

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