Howard Norskog's friend Dave Wahl shared this poem:

an Encomium for Howard Norskog

Many folks can tell a story.
Very few can make it rhyme.
And yet, my friend, You did it all,
You were with us, for a time.

You told of rugged ranch-life,
And the hardiness it takes,
How the canyon country beckons,
Out on the Salmon River Breaks.

Your words have painted pictures,
I recall them now as then,
I remember things that never happened,
I recall places I've not been.

Memories of hard, but good times
Still light my mind inside.
I'm so thankful that you passed my way:
It has been a wondrous ride.

D. Wahl
January 20, 2013

About Howard Norskog
Books and Recordings
Contact Information


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About Howard Norskog:

Howard Norskog was born in Gebo, Wyoming in 1933.  He was raised in Cody, Wyoming.  He served in the Korean War at age sixteen, made the rodeo circuits as a bull rider for eleven years, raced motorcycles for twelve years, and coached amateur boxing most of his life.

Howard started writing Cowboy Poetry in 1948 , and Christian Cowboy Poetry in 1994.

Howard has ballads in these books as well as others. Cowboy Poetry, a Gathering, Cowboy Poets of Idaho, and New Cowboy Poets, A Gathering.  He has been featured several times in Elko, Nevada, representing both Wyoming and Idaho.  He has been on radio coast-to-coast and featured in newspapers, magazines, and TV both in the United States and Canada. He has published four books and made four recordings.

His research into frontier lore and legend is the basis for his unique blend of history and fiction.

(adapted from Lost River Tales)

With a mixed ancestry of American Indian and Scandinavian immigrants, a youth spent punching cows in the wilds of Wyoming, more than a decade of riding bulls and broncs on the rodeo trail and a stretch in the military during the most bitter fighting of the Korean War influenced this brilliant writer in his career as a Cowboy Poet.  He took his inspiration from the likes of Robert Service, Bruce Kiskaddon and Stuart Hamblin, and in, the opinions of many, outdoes them all!  "When I hear Howard Norskog, I can hear the wind in the pine needles and feel the warmth of a pony between my knees.  He's one of those performers that take you someplace and you don't want to come back!" says one reporter.  The Cowboy Poets of Idaho Inc. agree, having presented him with the coveted 1997 SILVER QUILL AWARD and also induction into their 1999 HALL OF FAME...  In Cedar City, Utah for the 1998 Cowboy Poetry Rodeo, he took FIRST PRIZE for SERIOUS POETRY.  Howard has appeared in commercials for the Idaho Potato Growers Association and is actively involved in several Canadian Cowboy Poetry shows.  Howard is also Director for Christian Cowboy Balladeers; they do the finest non-denominational COWBOY CHURCH programs.  No sermons, just spiritual music and poetry that leaves you with a joyful feeling for having experienced it.  

(biography by Becky Nelson of Cowboy Poets of Idaho)



Just an Old Saddle

The Salmon River Breaks

Doing Just Fine


Just an Old Saddle

Today I sold my saddle,
I won't need it anymore
For it aint as if I'll use it,
As I did in days before

When we pushed those white faced cattle
Up towards that distant pass
And we spread them out together
There upon the lush green grass

When I broke the buckskin gelding
How the boys all stood and cheered
And the time up in the mountains
When I roped the brindle steer

That winter when I nearly froze
Now it fairly took my breath
There were forty miles of snow banks
But I guess you know the rest

I broke a hundred ponies
That I taught to handle cows
But today I sold my saddle
I don't guess I'll need it now

That sun that came and cooked me
Seems some times my head would spin
And I guess that I don't realize
What kind of shape I'm in

There's some young ones that were laughing
As I walked out through the door
They didn't know that first rate cowboy
That I'm not now anymore

That saddle it was special
For my dad gave it to me
It had a nice three-quarter rigging
And a little wonder tree

And there's a pair of tapaderos
One a nail there in the barn
And a headstall made of horsehair
Beaded up to give it charm

I still see my mother smiling
As I ride up to the house
On the little spooky gelding
That I always called the Mouse

He looked so proud beneath that saddle
Did I dream it was that way
And the one that shared my blankets
Sent to heaven just last May

Will she be up there a waiting
Where the waves break on the shore
Does she know I sold my saddle
Cause I don't need it anymore

There's only one thing I'm a asking
When my time down here is done
That I still might chase some dogies
In that land beyond the sun

But I'll set here in this rocker
And I'll think of days of yore
Cause today I sold my saddle
I don't need it any more

Yeah, today I sold my saddle
I must admit 'twas hard to part
For when they took that worn saddle
They left a broken heart.

Howard Norskog
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

(from Lost River Tales)


The Salmon River Breaks

There are days of sun and sand and stone
Where me and my lady stayed alone
We lived our days
In the misty haze
Where the big horn sheep come down to graze
in the Salmon River Breaks

We built a home of strong pine log
And our only friend was a yellow dog
We splashed like fools
In the water cool
Where the great outdoors was the only school
in the Salmon River Breaks

I trapped the beaver and sold his skin
She cursed this place that we lived in
And dreamed of spice
And houses nice
We even left this hell hole twice
In the Salmon River Breaks

But me and the lady we returned
There was something within our souls that burned
For the stars at night
Area a beautiful sight
Where the grizzly and panther sometimes fight
In the Salmon River Breaks

I swear I could tell you a thousand tales
Where we lived by the side of the Nez-Perce Trail
And the deer come down
With the scarce a sound
Where the elk and the mountain goats about
In the Salmon River Breaks

The River of No Return flows free
And winter and summer seem to be
A part of the strife
That infects my life
And I thank the Lord for the loving wife
In the Salmon River Breaks

For they say back there in times gone past
That the master decided this land should last
And the ones inane
Couldn't play their games
So this beautiful place would remain the same
In the Salmon River Breaks

So the truth of it is, I love it here
And that's why I stay year after year
And on a sunny day
You can lay me away
Where the eagle and osprey come to play
In the Salmon River Breaks

Howard Norskog
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Doing Just Fine

I'm hanging around up in Cody
'Twas somewhere in ninety and two
My clothes have all turned into rags here
I've got holes in my worn out boots

I'm so hungry I could eat my spur straps
Been four or five days since I fed
If I don't get some food pretty soon now
I'm gonna be winding up dead

Then I met this fellow on Main Street
And he said he had him a stud
A really and truly kids' pony
Out there in the rain and the mud

He said if I'd ride him he'd feed me
And let me stay at his home
Of course the old horse was nothing
That even resembled the strawberry roan

He was gentle and quiet and he told me
Just like a pet horse I guess
This nag was the one his kids rode
The one they all liked best

He's just needing some riding
And maybe some nice gentling down
That's why the crusty old rancher
Had today come a riding to town

He said, "I guess I should ask you
How are you at riding my lad
Are you any good with the horses
Horses that really aint bad"

And I said, "Now you've come to the right place
Riding's one thing I can do
I ain't the great shakes with the ladies
But I'm a hell of a good buckaroo"

He said, "You'll do good at the ranch boy
Now that I have you hired
And after you've rode their daddy
You can snap out of the colts that he's sired"

I really should have known looking back now
It didn't make a whole lot of sense
All of them cowboys a watching
Setting up there on the fence

They seemed to all grin and snicker
And smiled when they looked at me
Like I was the biggest fool ever
The most gullible a half-wit could be

Well I rode about most of those bad ponies
Yeah!  There's times that I tried near them all
And it's been a while let me tell you
Since this cowboy here took a fall

We he humped up a little when they roped him
He had a real strange look on his face
I had to admit I'm getting nervous
When they slipped that old buck-rein in place

I vaguely remember a mounting
Then the sky and the ground seemed to whirl
Sometimes his body gets whip-sawed
And sometimes it seems to curl

And then he really starts bucking
I'm in the saddle about half of the time
I aint seem the stirrups since mounting
Otherwise I'm doing just fine

He's torn off my hat and my neckerchief
My ribs are getting sorer than sin
My body's getting bruised up and broken
And I'll never get on him again

My neck it's whiplashed and bleeding
My buck-rein is scattered and gone
And if you think this pony's for children
Then you just come up and get on

My ankle's as big as a melon
My knee I can't feel anymore
The cantle is spanking my backside
I'm taking some bruises for sure

The stud's a whistling and kicking
And he's turning around on a dime
But outside of this boys I'll tell you
I think I'm a doing just fine

All of the boys are a cheering
I know that I'm under his spell
If I stay on this maverick much longer
He's sure going to send me to hell

My face it's the color of ashes
His feet's in the tail of my shirt
He's dipping so low when he comes down
I'm getting my mouth full of dirt

Half of the time he's a bucking
I'm really not sure who's on top
I feel that sooner or later
One of us is going to stop

I wonder how long I been up here
I might just die from old age
The cactus is looking inviting
And I tell you so is the sage

There's times I'm backwards and side-ways
Seeing the sky and the ground and such
The saddle is somewhere below me
Although I aint seen it that much

I'm praying for help from the Lord boys
My spurs are hung up in the cinch
My eyes in their sockets are spinning
One's closed but I can't tell you just which

I surely now must be a picture
With my eyes and my mouth full of dung
The blood running down on my shirt-front
From my ears where I got my spurs hung

I'm getting right up in his middle
At least where it used to be
I think he moved over a little
Cause there's only space I can see

I think I can see into heaven
St. Peter standing there on the line
His face looks a little disgusted
Hell I thought I was doing just fine

His hind feet are back in my pockets
I swear he's a wearing a grin
I think I'm getting ready to leave him
It's a hell of a shape that I'm in

When I woke in the hospital this morning
With the casts from my head to my toe
And this nurse here a bathing my body
and doing some things down below

The doctor he told me at breakfast
I got parts that won't quite be the same
But if I'm a 'gonna ride the bad horses
Then I'm the one that's to blame

The boss said he had some more cayuses
That all of them looked like their dad
And they all had one thing in common
It's that every-one of them's bad

So I'll tell you boys in the running
That's got on that old Strawberry Roan
That took "44" in the drawing
That you can leave this one alone

Cause I'll ride your Strawberry Roan there
And I'll get down on old "44"
But that dun colored stud in the corner
I'll never ride him no more

But if you think you might be a cowboy
His colts all stand out in the sun
And they'll challenge you half-baked cowboys
And you'll find that the doing aint done

I've found me a place on the boardwalk
Where I watch cute ladies pass by
I'll leave that old stud where I found him
Till I go to the sweet bye and bye

But I had me a night-mare last evening
I was in hell with old beezelbub
And there stood that devil a waiting
With a halter on that dun colored stud

Howard Norskog
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

(from Lost River Tales)


Read Howard Norskog's Last Days, posted with other poems from the 15th Annual Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering

and his

An Old Cowboy's Christmas, posted with other Holiday 2002 poems


Books and Recordings




Best Friends by Howard Norskog and Jim Bullard


Good Lord's Pulling on My Lead Rope
The Day I Sold My Saddle
I Don't Know About Tomorrow
Set My Horses Free
Love Story
Crown of Thorns
Through it All
When Johnny Came Home
Three Old Rusty Nails
Big Foot
Thank You for Your Blessings
Campfire at the End of the Trail
I Can't Even Walk
Lord & Savior

The CD is available for $12.95 postpaid from: 

Howard Norskog
Box 953
Lewiston, Idaho  83501



Buck Me Down Easy with Dean Wadsworth

Christian Cowboy Balladeers; includes "Howard's Prayer, "I'll Fly Away," "The Ark," "Devil," "Buck Me Down Easy," "Ain't No Middle," "Sex Troubles," "The Puppy," "Make a Joyous Noise," Touch Your Lady," and "Dean's Prayer."


Quiet Time
Women Who Walked With the Wind

Tapes $10.00 postpaid     
CDs  $15.00 postpaid


Lost River Tales
Blowing In The Wind
Memories Trails
Trails to Heaven

$10.00 each, postpaid

Order from:

Howard Norskog
Box 953
Lewiston, Idaho  83501


Contact Information


Howard Norskog
Box 953
Lewiston, Idaho  83501








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