Monday, April 18, 2011


Stephen Bly with Sundance
On the Trail with Stephen Bly

Before this spate of sickness hit me, at 6’2” and two hundred and plenty, I’d never been accused of being small. My size thirteen boots don’t fit in a cowboy world where the smaller the foot the better. When I was in the market for a horse, I chose big ones. When I climbed on some little Texas pony, my feet dragged the trail.

My last horse, Sundance, stood right at 16 hands. A hand equals 4 inches, measured from the ground to the top of a horse’s withers. So, my 16 hand horse stood about 64”.

I live up in the northern ranges where horses tend to be larger than those down on the southern plains. Men have been getting taller the past hundred years. So have their horses. Back in the Old West a 16 hand riding horse proved rare to find. . .and that’s as big as they got.

Cowboys used the term ‘a full sixteen hands’ to apply to hired hands and bosses, as well as horses. This became the supreme compliment of the range for a cowhand. That implied honesty, trustworthiness, reliability, as capable a worker who ever rode a western trail. Reputation signified a lot in a society where physical stature and looks didn’t rule. Strength of character and will made the strongest impressions.

That value has changed in our society. However, the Old West way is God’s viewpoint too: “People judge others by what they look like, but I judge people by what is in their hearts” (1 Samuel 16:7 CEV).

John Wayne
Some men and many women stand a full 16 hands. They might not look like bodybuilders or movie stars or Oscar nominees. . .or ride tall horses. . .but they live each day by God’s power, aware of their faults, committed to God’s gauge. They form the pillars of moral strength and courage in families, churches, and communities across the country, in their decisions and deeds.

They live among us…these 16 hand folks. They’re the real heroes. They’re the true winners.

Who are some of the 16-handers in your world?


Throw The Devil Off The Train

She escaped from her hometown to seek a new identity. He seeks revenge for his brother’s death … and desperately needs quiet and sleep. They collide on a cramped, noisy train. And something evil’s on board. Can they make peace long enough to throw the devil off the train?

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