START OF A COLD MORNIN’ by Deanna Dickinson McCall


painting by JaNeil Anderson

by Deanna Dickinson McCall

When posts are glazed like a cake
And the wire is taut with ice
The troughs need busting
The mornin’s ain’t so nice.

The red roan resembles a camel
His back has such a hump
You’d better cheek him up
He’ll likely buck and jump.

The saddle is sitting high
Good inch above his back
He’s sucked all up
Under blanket and kack.

On mornings like these
It’s a chance you take
Sliding into the stirrup
No room for mistake.

You wish you were 20 again
When you make that swing
But, you’ll do it because
That’s what cold morning’s bring.

© 2016, Deanna Dickinson McCall, used with permission

Award-winning poet, writer, and fourth-generation New Mexico rancher Deanna Dickinson McCall and noted painter and rancher JaNeil Anderson collaborated, pairing poems and paintings, in an attractive and engaging book, Split Reins.


In the foreword, respected singer, songwriter, and rancher Randy Huston comments that the book, “…is a wonderful look into real life in the rural West, a contemporary landscape still flavored by the frontier era, and a place in which many values and traditions haven’t changed in more than a hundred years. The hardships, triumphs, and daily routines of this unique world come to life in this collection.”

He explains that “split reins” are associated with the working traditions of Southwest cowboys; “two independent reins that must be used in concert to signal a horse.” He concludes, “As the saying goes, the sum is greater than the parts.”

Deanna has two highly praised books of stories, Rough Patches, which just won a Will Rogers Medallion Award, and Mustang Spring, which also includes poems. She also has an award-winning CD of her poetry, Riding. She’s a popular performer at gatherings, often appearing at the Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering, the Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering, the Western Folklife Center’s National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, and other events.

Find more about Deanna Dickinson McCall at; at her web site,; and on Facebook.

JaNeil Anderson studied under Cowboy Artists of America painters James Reynolds and R.S. Riddick. She and her husband live on their family’s third-generation ranch along the banks of the Gila River in southwest New Mexico. She is represented by Thunder Horse Gallery in Riudoso.

Find more about JaNeil Anderson at her web site,, and on Facebook.