Bucking Horse and Rider

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Wyoming's Bucking Horse and Rider (BH&R).

The Bucking Horse and Rider (BH&R) is a registered trademark of the U.S. state of Wyoming. In 1936, Wyoming trademarked the image for the state's license plates. However, the state's usage of the logo is traced back to as early as 1918.[1] Wyoming is popularly known as the "Cowboy State," in part because of the use of the bucking bronco as its symbol. The University of Wyoming at Laramie athletic teams are nicknamed the Cowboys and Cowgirls, both of which use the bucking horse and rider logo on their uniforms.

Uniforms for the Wyoming National Guard serving in Europe during World War I featured the horse and rider symbol. First Sergeant George N. Ostrom of E Battery, 3rd Battalion, 148th Field Artillery Regiment (United States) 91st Division, AEF is credited with designing the insignia. According to references in military records of the 91st. Division, Ostrom manipulated a horse into the Army named Red Wing which he had bought near Crow Agency, Montana into the Army remuda with the assistance of Army Horse Purchasing Officer Chester Cotton of Sheridan. Once the soldiers and the horse reached the post outside Cheyenne, Major Louabaugh selected the horse as his mount only to have it start bucking when the two bears used as mascots entered the parade ground. Chester Cotton and George Ostrum were detailed to remedy the horse's behavior, but Ostrum used his memory of the event to win a slogan contest for the unit once in Europe. The horse Red Wing survived World War I and was retired to a stable in France. The concept that the horse in the image was Steamboat is thought to have developed with familiarity with the famous bucking horse near Cheyenne and the fact that few civilians actually saw the event pictured by Ostrum. Incident was documented with citations in the book Where Rivers Run North by Sam Morton (Sheridan Historical Society and 91st Division archives). The slogan "Powder River - Let Er Buck" was used as Red Wing bucked with the Army major, and was taken into the trenches as a password and counter password by troops from that unit in Europe. Descendants of those soldiers are still serving with the Wyoming National Guard in 2014.[2] The silhouette of the horse and rider is still in use today on uniforms of the Wyoming National Guard soldiers. The historical record is unclear if, as some claim, the horse and rider represent the legendary rodeo bronco "Steamboat," the "horse that couldn't be ridden."

Clayton Danks, a Nebraska native who died in 1970 in Thermopolis, Wyoming,[3] is believed to be the cowboy on the Bucking Horse and Rider model. He rode Steamboat in the Cheyenne Frontier Days rodeo in 1909.[4]

The iconic horse came from the Tyrrell ranch located near Chugwater near Cheyenne and was given to Cheyenne Frontier Days by its former general chairman, Ace V. Tyrrell. Steamboat the horse is buried on Frontier Park grounds near bucking chute #9. It is the only animal interred on park grounds.

Wyoming sought to counter rampant counterfeiting of the state's license plate when it debuted the horse and rider image in 1936 as part of its license plate design (it is now the longest-running license plate motif in the world). Wyoming Secretary of State Lester Hunt spearheaded legislation for the new design and commissioned artist Allen T. True to render the graphic image.[5] True is also noted for painting murals for the Senate and House chambers in the Wyoming State Capitol.[6]

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