|Saunders' Gumption and Grit|
|Monday, 18 February 2013 00:00|
Take a gander at the mud-soaked cowboy with chiseled jaw on the cover of The Texas Cowboys and you know you are going to step into a world of gumption and grit. Inside there is cactus and brush, rattlesnakes and longhorns, cutting horses and more cowboys, captured in photos by David R. Stoecklein and in western idiom by Thomas B. Saunders IV, who runs the Twin V Ranch in Weatherford along with his son, Thomas B. Saunders V.
Saunders' ancestors were trail drivers and ranchers, then big honchos in the creation of the stockyards in Ft. Worth, San Antonio and Houston, and still the western life continues for this family. "We were born to the land," Thomas-IV says, and it was his love of ranching that drove him to capture into print the story of the Texas cowboy in this 1997 classic still available in used bookstores and on Amazon.
There are stories and photos of cowboys on 23 of the largest ranches in the state (that chiseled-jawed cowboy on the cover is Bubba Smith from Pitchfork Ranch, Guthrie, Texas) and Thomas-IV says he plans to update the book and take it into a sixth printing if he can get around to it -- but then there's the 12,000 acres at the ranch, plus leased land, for the cow-calf and yearling operation, where they still herd on horseback and brand at the campfire.
A good horse is a point of pride and a necessary tool in this type of ranching, and another Saunders' ancestor was one of the founders of the National Cutting Horse Association. It is the passion for Thomas-V, who trains horses for the ranch. He also provides cattle for horse shows and produces ranch rodeos in Ft. Worth and Houston.
Information about Thomas-V and the upcoming Houston ranch rodeo March 8-9 can be found on his website http://bigoteproductions.com/Events.html and the website entry on the Red Steagall Cowboy Gathering this past October provides more details of the uniqueness of the ranch rodeo – more grounded to everyday ranching skills than its cousins, the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association events.
As for my favorite cowgirl, Sharon McAmis, we are headed to the Houston ranch rodeo in March to get a taste of Thomas-V's shows, and maybe in the spring we will head on up to Weatherford to meet Thomas-IV. I just bought my first jeans and boots in 20 years and I am ready to ride!
From the Texas Observer, a reminder than June 6 is the date for the MOLLY National Journalism Prize in the tradition of Molly Ivins.
The award is for "telling the stories that need telling, challenging conventional wisdom, focusing on civil liberties and/or social justice, and embodying the intelligence, deep thinking and/or passionate wit that marked Molly's work".
Read more at Texas Observer.