Wyoming's registered trademarked logo of the "Bucking Horse & Rider"
What I know about much of the West could fit in the proverbial thimble. Sure, films and novels and magazines have provided images enough for me to conjure up an idyllic scene every now and again when necessary, and there was that post-college road trip with one of my best friends that took us from Vermont to Denver, her car packed to the gills with her belongings and the music turned up very loud to drown out the grating and insistent vocal protests of her large and opinionated tiger cat.
But the REAL WEST, as in ranches and rodeos and cattle and cowboy hats, that remains mostly unexplored territory, and since I’m about to venture forth from my Eastern habitat and get my boots good and dusty, it occurs to me a little education might not hurt this ol’ brain of mine. Now, any of us can look a state up on Wikipedia these days and get a few legitimate facts and a few of a more questionable variety…but here are a few of the more random (and therefore, perhaps interesting?) details I’ve discovered in my online explorations:
1) Wyoming is known by some as the “Equality State” because historically, women enjoyed equal (or, um, “equaler”) rights there before many other places in the good old US of A. Apparently, women in Wyoming were among the first to vote, serve on juries, and hold public office. Being from the modern-day bastion of liberalism (Massachusetts by way of Vermont), I find this an exciting surprise, and the first bit of previously unknown information to cultivate a far more sophisticated understanding of the “ing” state.
2) In 1988, Wyoming became the last of the 50 states to raise the drinking age to 21. The term “Bloody Wyoming” was being bandied about because young people from neighboring states (where the drinking age was already 21) were crossing the state border, drinking themselves silly, and driving home drunk. We teens along the Canadian border behaved in similarly foolish ways, so I understand why the step was finally taken to attempt to control the issue.
Wyoming is home to the second-largest wild horse population in the United States.
3) Wyoming apparently made the image of the bucking horse and rider (commonly abbreviated everywhere I looked BH&R) used on its license plates and elsewhere (including as the University of Wyoming’s logo) a registered trademark. The horse in the image is reputedly “Steamboat,” arguably the most famous bucking horse in the world, who was born in Wyoming in 1901.
4) Wyoming is home to the nation’s second-largest population of wild horses, and therefore is at the heart of much of the recent wild horse controversy. Herd control includes plans for sterilization (via castration of stallions) in some areas and regular Bureau of Land Management “gathers” (roundups). When I was 14, I bought and trained a mustang filly, and she was the darling of my heart until I had to sell her before going away to college…but I’m admittedly torn on the mustang issue. Part of me understands the need to control herd population in order to sustain herd health, the land the horses graze upon, and the other animal populations in the area….but part of me cringes at the images of the roundups….but then again without the BLM Adopt-a-Mustang program, my filly “Little Red Lucy” would never have been in my life….
Off to dream about wild horses…hope you are, too!