On April 10, I have been invited to speak to the Mountain Ridge Chapter of the Back Country Horsemen of Utah. It should be a good time and I am looking forward to it. One thing’s for certain—everyone in attendance will be a better hand with a horse than I ever was. With that in mind, here’s the biographical information I submitted to the group for publicity purposes:
Horses never much liked Rod Miller. They’ve bucked him off, ran away with him, tipped over backwards on him, kicked him, bit him, stepped on his toes, and otherwise abused him. As a young man he was attracted to rodeo because, he says, “At least you know the horse is going to try to dump you—it takes the surprise out of it.”
Despite the fact that horses don’t cotton to him, Rod grew up with the animals a daily presence. He fed them, made sure the water trough was full, and rode them regularly. He broke and trained a few with a lot of loud (and often exasperated) advice from his cowboy dad. He gathered cattle out of mountain allotments, moved cattle from pasture to pasture, rode fence, rode drag on a two-day cattle drive behind a big herd, wallowed around in the branding pen every spring, and through it all managed to get along with his horses, mostly.
Arena events started early, as he and his brother and dad were members of Goshen Valley Riding Club. With that group, he also clip-clopped along the streets in a number of small-town parades as his horse fouled the pavement. In high school he took up bareback bronc riding, and rode three seasons for the Utah State University Intercollegiate Rodeo Team.
Nowadays, Rod’s experience with horses is mostly on paper, as he includes them in many, if not most, of his poems, magazine articles, short stories, novels, and nonfiction books. And while he often writes about getting bucked off and otherwise mistreated by equines, writing about it doesn’t hurt as much as the real thing.
(About the photo: When I was 10 years old, we took a back country horseback trip into the high Uintah Mountains. This shows my dad and brother and me—I’m the one in the stylish blue hat.)