Debate over WY bucking horse & rider
Former Wyoming Secretary of State Lester Hunt holds a 1936 Wyoming
license plate that featured the bucking horse and rider symbol for the
first time. The symbol is featured prominently on the new Wyoming
Quarter, which will be launched with a ceremony on Sept. 14 in Cheyenne.
What is the true identity?
by Governor Freudenthal's office
August 7, 2007
Wyoming’s iconic symbol of a rider hanging on to a fierce bucking bronco is still shrouded in mystery when it comes to identifying both the cowboy and the horse.
Although a common belief is that the horse depicted is the legendary Steamboat, a celebrated bucking horse in early 1900s Wyoming rodeo, a Wyoming historian says this isn’t so.
Author and Old West historian Larry Brown said the original design of Wyoming’s bucking horse and rider symbol was created in 1935 by artist Allen True for then Secretary of State Lester Hunt. In 1936, the symbol was added to the state’s license plates.
In his book “Coyotes and Canaries,” published in 2002, Brown wrote, “True was a wonderful painter and designer and illustrated the chambers of both the House and Senate at the State Capitol. In an interview with True after the popularity of the license plate grew, he said he had no specific horse or rider in mind.”
Brown said the speculation surrounding the symbol has grown over the years, with many contemporary accounts identifying the horse as Steamboat and the rider as Stub Farlow.
“I even saw a recent account that has a completely different horse I’ve never heard about and a different rider I’ve never heard about as being the individual in mind when True did this,” Brown said.
Secretary of State Hunt, who later became governor and then a U.S. senator, personally commissioned True and paid him $75 for the original sketch which hung in the senator’s office in Washington, D.C. until after Hunt’s death in 1954, Brown said.
The bucking horse and rider is featured prominently on the new Wyoming Quarter which will be used during the official coin toss at the beginning of the University of Wyoming football game with Utah State University on Sept. 8 in Laramie.
Gov. Dave Freudenthal, State Treasurer Joe Meyer, State Auditor Rita Meyer and Superintendent of Public Schools Jim McBride will take part in the coin toss.
An official Wyoming Quarter launch ceremony will be held at the Cheyenne Civic Center at 10 a.m. on Sept. 14. Wyoming native and NBC Correspondent Pete Williams will be the emcee for the event, which will feature remarks from Gov. Dave Freudenthal, United States Mint Director Edmund C. Moy and other state and local officials.
For more information, visit www.artsparkshistory.com or call 307-777-7437.