Ride ’em Cowboy! Yee-Haw Photos by Holger Eckstein

When my friend photographer Holger Eckstein sent me this picture, I gasped. Surely I am not the only one who does not like where that hind hoof is headed. But that is not why I gasped.

I gasped because it is so cool and so beautiful.

Rodeo 1 by Holger Eckstein
Rodeo 1 by Holger Eckstein

Opening Wednesday, May 15, at the Lynch Tam Gallery in New York is “Blink,” an exhibit of 11 internationally known artists — Helen Frankenthaler, Yves Klein, Andy Warhol among them — whose work captures an irreversible instant in time. In Holger’s case the instant the cowboy flies off his mount and falls on his F-stop.

The straps around the horse’s belly are called bucking straps. They work real good yes ma’am they do. The one in back is padded so it does not give the horse a strawberry. Then he’d really be mad.

Rodeo 2 by Holger Eckstein
Rodeo 2 by Holger Eckstein

I don’t reckon I’ve ever seen cowboy pictures like these, and I just can’t stop looking at them.

Holger is a successful and talented (obviously) commercial photographer who in the last several years has been following his passion for art. Seems to be working out pretty well, as following one’s passion always does. Yes I mean you.

Visit Holger’s website to see more.

Rodeo 3 by Holger Eckstein
Rodeo 3 by Holger Eckstein

These shots were taken at a rodeo training camp in San Bernardino County, California, inspired by the photographer’s chance visit to a Ralph Lauren store months before. “Instead of  looking through the collection,” Holger says,  improbable-sounding to me as that is, he began looking at Bruce Weber‘s photos of cowboys. Weber’s images of hot shirtless dudes in hats spurred Holger’s artistic curiosity. (It might have had a different effect on me. Just sayin.) Says Holger, “I couldn’t get the idea out of my head to shoot a series of images ‘when it happens’. To catch that nano-second when the cowboy leaves the animal and the figures both create in that moment.”

He says the cowboys kept telling him it wasn’t dangerous, though he couldn’t help but notice, “Outside there are four ambulances, and horse and bull legs flying around next to the heads of the cowboys.  Who is wilder, the bulls and horses or the cowboys?”

Good question.

Rodeo 4 by Holger Eckstein
Rodeo 4 by Holger Eckstein

I cannot even imagine imagining to want to do this.

My own Cowboy (His Grace my husband for new readers) has actually done this, which upon reflection explains a lot. Some years ago before my time at Rancho La Zaca (our home in California), they had rodeos for neighbors and friends that must have been a hoot, bull-riding included. They used an ostensibly less dangerous “training bull,” but still. HG says it was worth it for the photo, which, regrettably, I don’t have at hand at the moment.

Does this horse look like someone just asked him a stupid question?

Rodeo 5 by Holger Eckstein
Rodeo 5 by Holger Eckstein

Next to bull riding of course, my idea of a great photo op would be lunch with Miss Manners. She doesn’t put up with any bull when it comes to how to behave.

That right there was what you call going off on a tangent. But the careful reader might infer that I am foreshadowing a post on Miss Manners, and you, Careful Reader, would be correct.

Rodeo 6 by Holger Eckstein
Rodeo 6 by Holger Eckstein

Speaking of tangents, if you remember your geometry, this cowboy here is at a tangent to this bull and looks dangerously close to bisecting his isosceles triangle. He’s like to ruin them purty green chaps.

Rodeo 6 by Holger Eckstein
Rodeo 7 by Holger Eckstein

I’ve heard some cowboys keep their hats on with wig tape, a tip they must have picked up from cast members of La Cage aux Folles. Speaking of, did you know there was an International Gay Rodeo Association? Me neither.

“Blink” opens Wednesday, May 15, 6 to 8 pm. Lynch Tam Gallery, 175 Rivington Street, New York, NY 10002. Tel. +1-917-327-3580 / +1-917-288-9099. info@lynchtham.comEnds June 23.

Yee-haw and many thanks to Holger Eckstein for these images.



  1. Wow. Absolutely incredible photos – art indeed. Good on you Mr Eckstein. (how is he doing the flattened out thing??) And you, Miss Frances, have given me my always important morning laugh!

    Love this post!

  2. My goodness….the photos are awesome. Thank you for sharing them. That is what I love about your posts,never boring!!! Have a great week.
    xo Becky

  3. Those ARE spectacular!! Today at my physical therapist, a young man was working out next to me. My therapist commented that he was a “bull rider”. I said,” No wonder he is at the PT!” I will share this photograper”s website next time I see him. He should appreciate it and I’m amazed I know of someone like him. Small world!

  4. genius photographs. imagine the fashion accessories in the International Gay Rodeo would make those green chaps look like a pin stripe suit.

  5. Amazing photographs Frances!
    Believe it or not, I’ve been to the rodeo more than once in Sun Valley (well, Ketchum, to be precise) I have a friend who also photographs cowboys (and Navy Seals. Hey-it’s a tough gig, but someone’s gotta do it)
    We had a great time. except for the clowns.
    Clowns…why?? ever?
    xx SP

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