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Excerpt from the book by Kurt Markus.
Bell Ranch, NM © Kurt Markus
Henrique Sanchez and Buck Moorhead, Bell Ranch, New Mexico, September 1985
My trouble with cowboys is that their flair for doing the unexpected has infected me, only I lack their improved timing and skill. I suppose I am not alone if I found in them a piece now thought missing in most of mankind, and, after having caught the scent and elusive image of it, wanted to claim it for myself. But I won’t give up free-choice coffee and other comparable luxuries, so I’ll never win the completeness and the resulting charm women find seductive; women probably see in cowboys figures who can straighten out other messy lives with their black-and-white wills of hard living. It seems that way with cowboys, given their ease in big country and small bars and how they either make things happen or not happen.
CS Ranch,
Cimarron, New Mexico
CS Ranch © Kurt Markus
Something about cowboying resists improvement; some kind of internal mechanism accepts only primitive, elemental materials and tools.
Ryder & Greg Locke © Kurt Markus
Ryder and Greg Locke,
Alpine, Texas
November 1995
If you like horses, cowboying is a good life.
Cowboys get to be with horses, even in
inclement weather. And horses kick cowboys
from time to time, and step on them, and fall
on them. Some horses refuse to load in a
trailer or let their riders put on a slicker.
Horses can be dangerous, beautiful, partners.
ORO Ranch © Kurt Markus
ORO Ranch, Prescott, Arizona,
October 1985
Pat's City Bar © Kurt Markus Pat’s City Bar
Mosquero, New Mexico
October 1983
Cowboys have worked the style angle well and long and have now, after these years, got it down good. So well, it seems, that you’d think they invented a code. A code for all to abide and enforce and pass along and give the appearance of orderliness. But out there lurking in the sage and mesquite and cedars are deviants who won’t be classed by other cowboys, and particularly not by clerks publishing definitive studies fixing the cowboy character once and for all. Cowboys are as different as the stars and the sky.
Sonya Goddard, Mountain Island Ranch
Glade Park, Colorad
May 1986
Sonya Goddard © Kurt Markus
Ian Tyson © Kurt Markus
Ian Tyson,
Longview, Alberta, Canada,
May 1988
“Cowpuncher” by Kurt Markus is available from RANGE. Send $85 (Nev. res. must add tax) to: RANGE, P.O. Box 639, Carson City, NV 89706. Credit card orders call RANGE at 1-800-RANGE-4-U. To see more of Markus' work go to <>

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