Thomas McGuane

Last night I had caught up with some reading, including a November, 2010,  Men’s Journal interview with writer, Montana rancher, and cutter, Thomas McGuane.

I’ve long been a fan of McGuane’s writing. Some years ago he graciously allowed us to reproduce a short story about a unique cutting horse gelding named Roanie, excerpted from his excellent book, Some Horses, in Western Horse Review’s 15th anniversary January, 2008 edition.

McGuane and his wife live just outside of McLeod, Montana, where he runs a few cattle, still rides cutting horses and writes, his latest novel, being Driving The Rim. He is now 71 years old and considered one of North America’s foremost writers, along the likes of Jim Harrison and Cormac McCarty.

Thought you might enjoy these musings from the man who, according to the MJ article, once described himself as “a neurotic writer who’d like to be a cowboy.”

ON HIS EARLY LIFE

“I had a kind of tough early life. I had a tough time in school. I had an unsympathetic family in terms of what I was trying to do. I decided that my family situation was simply hopeless. I kinda bailed out, and my brother and sister didn’t. I failed at marriage, which I’m very upset with myself over. I just kept beating my head against these things. So I lit out for territory.”

ON MONTANA

“I knew the minute I set foot out here, once I saw the wild rivers and the expansive landscape, there was never going to be anyplace else. I get needled a lot by the rest of the family, but this is the niche I’ll die in. I just love being here. And I’m sorry I don’t have another hundred years on this property.”

“That will knock the socks off your vanity.” (on living in Montana for 40 years)

ON ROPING

“It was a little like learning to fish. You had to figure some of it out, get a few tips, and then there was an arena where they had practice cattle. At least two nights a week, I’d go rope steers.”

“You practice: You make your loop, you slide it up, you straighten your rope, you make your loop, you throw it, you keep your thumb out of the dally, make your dally on the horn, pull your hand back so in case the dally slips, it’s not going to rip your hand off. If the steer hits too hard, you gotta slow it down. It’s 15 different things that you can learn, like a golf swing or anything else.”

ON BUSTER WELCH

As quoted from Welch to McGuane: “Tom, every really good horse is a freak. Anybody who sets out to do something unique is going to acquire the status of a freak in his own family.”

“Buster Welch has this principle of schooling horses. Never ask the horse to do something it’s going to do anyway. I’ve seen Buster send horses back because they’re too well broke. He said they’re listening to the rider all the time. A good horse will want something to happen on its own, and a seed of creativity is that feeling of wanting something to happen.”

ON WHEN HIS TIME COMES

“I would prefer breaking my neck in a  fall from a fast horse.”

Read the entire article here, friends.

Have a great weekend!


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