Montana Horse Story

Source:America's Library
Level: Pre-Intermediate

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When you think of cowboys, what sorts of things come to mind?

If you are a cowboy or cowgirl, what kinds of skills do you you need to have?

Montana Horse Story

She was raised on a ranch in the lee of the Crazy Mountains, where in a good year, the grass grows as high as a horse's belly.

Ranching families dwelled there precariously in a world both beautiful and treacherous, only a drought or late spring blizzard away from ruin.

But even after Barbara Van Cleve left to teach college English in Chicago, the land called to her, and she returned each summer to Montana to train horses and ride the high country.

Van Cleve's love of the West suffuses her new book of photographs, "Hard Twist: Western Ranch Women," which documents the hardships and joys of ranching life as women know it.

The handsome black-and-white images, photographed by Van Cleve mostly between 1986 and 1988, portray women on horseback roping steers, in kitchens cooking and taking time out to nurse their babies.

When you have finished reading, return to this page and answer the questions below.


Post-Reading Questions

  1. Which animals are an important part of Montana's economy?

  2. In what ways are horses useful in the livestock industry?

  3. Which is not true about Barbara Van Cleve?
    a. She was inducted into the National Cowgirl Museum.
    b. She is a cowgirl-photographer.
    c. She lives and works in a same place.

  4. In which category was Dan Mortensen the World Saddle Bronc riding champion?

Click for Answers.