Cowboys call them by all kinds of names—gads, gut hooks, and grapplin’ irons among them. Then there’s can openers, rib wrenches, and buzzsaws. And more.
But the official name—if there is such a thing in Western lingo—is spurs.
Spurs are a common cowboy tool, in everyday use wherever horses are saddled. But Western Writers of America borrowed the name and attached it to something uncommon and not everyday. As the organization puts it, “Western Writers of America annually honors writers for distinguished writing about the American West with the Spur Awards.”
Winners of the 2018 Spur Awards were announced recently, and I am honored to know several recipients and their work. And I am especially honored to once again be counted among them.
“Lost and Found” is a short story published last year in Saddlebag Dispatches that tells of a modern-day cowboy who loses a piece of his thumb in his dallies while gathering strays on a remote range, and finds the body of a dead boy dumped in a dry wash.
The judges somehow found it worthy and named it the Spur Award winner for Best Western Short Fiction.
Also published in Saddlebag Dispatches, my poem “The Knowing” was named a Finalist for the Spur Award for Best Western Poem. My friend and fine poet Marleen Bussma won the Spur for her poem, “She Saddles Her Own Horse.”
All thanks to the late Dusty Richards and to Casey Cowan who elected to publish the story and the poem in their magazine. And appreciation to the Spur Award judges who bestowed these honors.
I am more than happy to pound a couple more nails in the wall.