The images that tell the story behind the story are sometimes worth sharing.

Sculptor Bill Nebeker of Prescott, Arizona, and his retired roping horse, Bugs.Sculptor Bill Nebeker of Prescott, Arizona, and his retired roping horse, Bugs.

By Christine Hamilton

Under red cliffs and big skies, in pastures dotted with greenthread (Navajo tea plant), or in the shade of a wood barn: That’s where you hunt up the Western Horseman stories of people and horses.

But beyond gathers or roundpen work, it’s the unexpected scenes along the way that become my favorite images, and that tend to fill my personal journal.

Like the look on sculptor and cowboy artist Bill Nebeker’s face when he talks about his 34-year-old retired rope horse, Bugs. Long after hundreds of team ropings and brandings, Bugs carefully packed around Bill’s ailing and aging father before the elder Nebeker passed away. It makes Bill proud of both his horse’s heart and his father’s determination.

 

Mark and Kathryn Marley ranch outside of Roswell, New Mexico.Mark and Kathryn Marley ranch outside of Roswell, New Mexico.

Or the behind-the-scenes laughter of a ranching family that genuinely enjoys each other’s company. Kathryn was a city girl who fell in love with Mark Marley and found herself learning how to raise a strong family in the rough country west of Roswell, New Mexico. She sure did it.

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