Subtle Styles in Silver

ImageFirearms engraving has been around for hundreds of years, but acclaimed engraver Ernie Marsh helped popularize the smoky finish on bits and spurs.

as a bit and spur maker is mechanical by nature, but the craftsman thinks more like an artist than a machinist. His creative expression starts in his imagination and is unleashed when he picks up his hammer and chisel.

Each time the craftsman engraves a new pattern or attempts to resolve a problem with an existing design, he grabs a pencil and sketches scrolls on anything in front of him. Unlike a fine artist who has a large, blank canvas on which to create, Marsh's challenge as an engraver is to find ways to fill odd-shaped spaces with fluid, attractive patterns. Scrollwork is one of the most graceful, ornate elements Marsh has found to fill space, and they provide limitless design possibilities.

Marsh's uncontrollable urge to use scrollwork started more than 20 years ago, when he first discovered its decorative value in firearms engraving.

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Big Sky Vaqueros

ImageThis Montana-based organization brings together working cowboys and weekend ropers in friendly competitions, while celebrating the ways of the early California vaquero.

It is almost dark by the time I reach Bozeman, Montana. While reading the directions I had scribbled on a small piece of paper, I navigate through an upscale neighborhood on the edge of town. After one last turn, I try to read the street numbers in the dim light. Looking ahead, I see dark silhouettes in cowboy hats roping a dummy right in the middle of the street.

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Secret Weapon

ImageCasual rodeo fans might not recognize her name, but some of the sport’s best ropers often turn to Lari Dee Guy
when in search of new horsepower.

The banging open of a chute gate precedes a hail of flying dirt as a calf heads full speed for the back of the arena, a horse in hot pursuit. His chances of getting there are somewhere between slim and none, however, because Lari Dee Guy rarely misses with a rope. Sure enough, moments later she lets the rope fly and makes a clean catch.

With her tongue curled over her upper lip, one can’t help but see the obvious comparisons between the Texas cowgirl and her basketball hero—Michael Jordan. In the world of women ropers (and horse trainers, for that matter), Lari Dee is a perennial all-star. She’s got countless titles on her roping record, and her horse-training resume includes a reference from possibly the greatest timed-event hand the sport has ever known, Trevor Brazile.


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The Legendary Link

SpurUsing a traditional method of melding silver and steel, bit and spur maker Chuck Irwin connects contemporary cowboys to Californio-style craftsmanship.




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Adjusting to the Costs of Competition


These are some of my rodeo friends. Sharing horses and traveling expenses have enabled us to continue to compete during this tough economic time.

Young horsemen rise to the occasion to keep doing what they love.

Horse trailer is hooked up, horses are loaded and you and the family are ready to go to an equine event. You fuel up your truck, putting at least $70 worth of gasoline or diesel in the tank, each gallon costing at least $3.90. Three-hundred miles down the road, your fuel gauge shows you’re tank is almost empty. Your finances are already being drained, and you haven’t even arrived at the event, where you’ll spend more money on entry fees, food and lodging, and stalls for your horses.


High fuel prices and a strained economy are drastically changing the horse world, making it more difficult than ever for horse people to afford to compete. But there are ways to adjust to the rising costs of the competitive horse world...

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