Horses They Rodeby Sid Gustafson
Bruised from a divorce, Wendel Ingraham abandons his hardscrabble life as a racehorse trainer and
"Horses They Rode" is a dramatic story of love, family, and changing cultures. It takes place along the rugged Rocky Mountain Front in Montana, where ranchers and Native Americans uneasily share the vast landscape with each other, wild animals, and fast horses.
Bruised from a divorce, Wendel Ingraham abandons his hardscrabble life as a racehorse trainer and returns to the mountain foothill ranch where he was raised. There he confronts his past and tries to build a future with his young daughter. The novel lyrically weaves his journey through women, children, horses, and Indian spirituality, culminating in a dramatic horse race.
Gustafson's beautifully crafted writing limns the intense and complex interactions between men and women, fathers and daughters, Native Americans and whites, and animals and nature. His storytelling and language is full of rhythm and surprise.
- Riverbend Publishing
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.84(w) x 7.98(h) x 1.09(d)
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Bozeman author and veterinarian Sid Gustafson has the rare ability to take you from your seat and place you directly in his novel. He accomplishes this in Horses They Rode not with the all-too-common literary tactics we are used to, but through the use of fascinating imagery. While giving the reader familiar points in Montana to use as reference, Gustafson Brings his readers into a different countryside than the one we see from our windows. Gustafson brings his reader into a world where Indians and cowboys live together, and before the novel even progresses, the affect of this relationship, however strained, is evident to the reader. The nomadic qualities of Gustafson¿s characters echo throughout the novel and resonate in any reader who has felt an itch for exploration. If you are interested in opening a book that will captivate your imagination while encouraging introspection, you need not look further than Horses They Rode. You may put this novel down wondering about the spirit of the mountains, the relationships you have with people around you, or even the relationship you have with yourself. This is, of course, not surprising when you realize Gustafson is using his own experiences to masterfully shape his characters. Expect to read one of the finer stories related to quickly dissipating Montana culture, and one of the most impressive novels written by a Montana author this year. Hold on to your emotions, because there will most likely be an instant when Gustafson is able to open your mind in a way that is truly fascinating. Justin Easter
HORSES THEY RODE By Sid Gustafson '77? Riverbend Publishing, Helena, Montana, 2006 Midway through Sid Gustafson¿s new novel, Horses They Rode, I found myself put in mind of all the second chances I have had. His take on the reknitting of family, friendship, and one man¿s tumultuous life is such a story ¿a tale of second chances where hope effervesces across a storyscape of high country, horse corrals, drunkenness, and regret that seems, at moments, irresolvable. It¿s a wholly American novel, for of course, America is a land forgiving of first mistakes¿where a shot at trying again is fair and right. Wendel Ingraham, Gustafson¿s protagonist, is a ranch hand who has roamed Washington State¿s Inland Empire, Idaho¿s panhandle, and Big Sky Country on a multi-year binge, leaving a daughter and a broken marriage in his wake. A series of experiences, including encounters with a high-school sweetheart and with mentor, companion, and part-time Blackfoot medicine man Bubbles Ground Owl, leads to his sobriety and amends. Wendel and Bubbles take jobs as hands on a ranch where they worked as youths. And this is where the novel cries its message in earnest. The protagonist is never so competent as when he¿s reunited with his beloved horse. The symbiosis that is rediscovered between them, a language of faithfulness and trust, portends atonements awaiting Wendel. A gathering of horsemen and their mounts prompts language from Gustafson that is a gorgeous but gritty admixture of potential: ¿Whoever they were, whatever breed of horsemen, they brought horses and they brought hope, hope that horses could revive a manifest heart.¿ At the ranch there are additional reconciliations required of Ingraham. In their execution, he emerges whole, ¿. . . grateful for all the people who¿d gathered to live the life they knew best, everything and everyone connected, men and animals, fishes and birds, grass, trees and stars.¿ As in his first novel, Prisoners of Flight, Gustafson often joyfully eschews writing conventions. By turns, his forms are starkly tangible or cloaked in mythology. His prose is exuberant and accessible. Rhythmic, he often reads like a long poem: ¿Parents want their children with them, children of the land, something about having your children with you on the land, native children on native land.¿ Horses They Rode is a one-sitting book. And it¿s the kind of book about something important in a world full of books about unimportant things. People should like it. ¿Brian Ames ¿85