The Mr. & Mrs. Robert E. McKee III Family Fred Darge Collection

Lone Rider

Oil on canvas board, 12″ x 16″, ca. late 1930s

Ranching simply could not have been done without dedicated, skilled cowboys and good, strong horses. Ranches maintained remudas of trained horses from which cowboys selected their mounts for each day’s work. Most ranch hands could perform a variety of tasks and some horses were better suited to a task than others; knowing this, cowboys chose horses based on their assigned job for the day. Horses were to be cared for properly as they were vital all tasks related to ranch operations.

Darge did not leave any notations about this painting, but visions of the rider’s assignment can easily be conjured. Sometimes a task required just one person. Perhaps he is headed out to find a few young strays. Or, to check on a section of fence. Maybe he is riding to a neighboring ranch to share news or discuss an issue of mutual concern.

The scenes and subjects Darge saw around the corrals and ranches on ordinary days became etched in his visions for new paintings. Darge was skilled at portraying a sense of ease between the rider and his mount. Darge was recognized by some art critics of his era as being an artist who was accomplished in painting horses. He studied the muscular structure of horses that were standing still as well as those in motion.

Gifted by David A. H. Harris and Marjorie McKee Harris

Mankato Style Spur Strap Buckles on Custom Straps by Baru Forrel