THE UNBRIDLED SPIRIT OF THE EHCAPA RIDERS
Riding Style is a tribute to Native Americans
These young riders are much more than just a bareback drill team spicing up the Wagon Days Festival. When they ride through Ketchum each fall as part of the Big Hitch Parade be sure to follow them to the rodeo grounds afterwards, where they perform amazing feats without the use of saddles or bridles. You can watch them perform intricate patterns, formations and battle charges; maneuvering their horses through lines and circles and even over show stopping jumps with what looks like nothing between them and their horses.
The EhCapa riders control their horses with a simple leather band around the neck, called a tack rein, and subtle cues from their legs, weight and voices.
Their style of riding and handmade costumes are a tribute to regional Native American tribes and their master horsemanship. Friends and family decorate the costumes with beads and fringe the horses with feathers and hand-painted Native American symbols. Every horse has a signature pair of yellow and red handprints on its rump.
Wayne Stear, a member of the Ada County Sheriff’s Posse, founded EhCapa in 1956. His original goal was to provide an opportunity for kids to learn horsemanship without great expense. He and his fellow founding members decided to ride bareback with only the use of a tack rein, taking an idea from one of his Sheriff’s posse drills. The club name, EhCapa, came from the backwards spelling of one of Stear’s horses, “Apache.”
As an EhCapa rider, goals are made and achieved individually but are cultivated as a group. The members truly become one with their horses. To become part of the club’s royalty program, members must completely commit to the team, since rising through the ranks of royalty is rarely achieved alone.
As the EhCapa team program explains: “EhCapa believes that when youngsters learn to build trust in the horses they love, the results can be remarkable. The program is built on commitment, patience with self, consistent practice, active team participation and mentoring others.”
The EhCapa team has performed in Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Utah, Nevada, California, Oregon, Washington, Ohio and British Columbia. Becoming an EhCapa rider is a commitment for the entire family. Parents are required to attend each practice, as well as travel with the group. For this group of boys and girls it is an honor and a way of life that carries through for the rest of their lives.
EhCapa now consists of nearly 50 riders between the ages of 8 and 19. Their horses are of every breed, size and color, ranging from Appaloosas to wild mustangs. The team is taught core horsemanship and how to work as one with their mounts through difficulty and triumph, resulting in the ultimate bond between rider and horse.
As riders progress and become more disciplined, skilled and patient in their training, they grow more self-confident and develop a greater sense of pride.-Nancy Glick
Sun Valley host to many Westerns over the years
Sun Valley may be most famous for its writers—Poet Ezra Pound’s childhood home is on 3rd Avenue in Hailey, and Ernest Hemingway penned For Whom the Bell Tolls in Suite 206 at the Sun Valley Lodge, also writing portions of Islands in the Stream, The Garden of Eden and A Moveable Feast from his Ketchum home. The glamour of the Hollywood elite and socialite A-List that flocked to Sun Valley when it first opened (stars such as Gary Cooper, Janet Leigh, Clark Gable, Lucille Ball, and later Clint Eastwood, Jamie Lee Curtis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Demi Moore, Bruce Willis and Tom Hanks) also made a splash, but Idaho has hosted a number of top films over the years as well.
Moviegoers might not always know it, though, because Sun Valley has played stand-in for the mountains of Europe, Alaska, the arctic and a Swiss village (as the mountains around Sun Valley did in 1937’s “I Met Him in Paris” starring Claudette Colbert, Robert Young and Melvyn Douglas).
Due to the spectacular scenery and rugged country, a good number of the movies filmed here have been Westerns. Here is our roundup of a few of the best to come out of the Gem State:
Back to God’s Country (1953) starring Rock Hudson and Marcia Henderson. The mountains around Sun Valley stand in for a small village in the frozen wilderness of Alaska (it is interesting to note that a 1919 black and white version of this film starring Nell Shipman also featured scenes shot at Priest Lake in northern Idaho).
Pale Rider (1985). Sun Valley’s most famous and iconic Western. Directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Eastwood as the mysterious no-name drifter who rides into a small mining town to help local citizens Michael Moriarty and Carrie Snodgrass face up to the ruthless proprietor of a strip-mining company threatening their land and livelihood. Shot on location in the Boulder Mountains, less than 20 minutes from director and star actor Clint Eastwood’s home (with a few scenes staged up over Galena Summit in the Stanley Basin).
Dark Horse (1990) directed by former local David Hemmings and starring Ed Begley, Jr., Mimi Rogers, Ari Meyers and Donovan Leitch, with scenes filmed in Ketchum (at Louie’s and Creekside Bar, both now gone), as well as in Picabo and over Trail Creek.-Laurie Sammis
THE LIVING TOOLS OF SHEEP RANCHERS
Sheepdogs in the Wood River Valley
When did humans learn how to harness the power of dogs anyway? Some conclude that this change came about in the distant past when humans took in a wolf cub or litter (dogs are decendents of wolves) and provided shelter, food and protection—earning the canine’s trust and companionship. Sheepdogs in particular have played an integral role in ranching in Idaho and throughout the world.
Sheep, dogs and shepherds have been part of the Northern Rocky landscape for over 150 years. It is said that in 1918 Idaho’s sheep population was 2.65 million, nearly six times the state’s human population. Second only to Sydney, Australia, the Wood River Valley shipped thousands of lambs by railroad to markets around the West and was a major sheep center during that time.
Though that industry has shrunk in recent years, sheepdogs are still an integral part of sheep ranching in the Wood River Valley. There are now two types of modern sheepdogs: guardian dogs which, in the Wood River Valley, are often Great Pyrenees; and the border collie which, according to fourth-generation Idaho sheep rancher John Peavey, he couldn’t run his operation without.
The guardian’s job is to protect the sheep from predators. As pups, they are put in a pen with the sheep where they become family. The dogs will typically bond to a particular ewe and even ride on the trucks with them. “The key to raising effective guard dogs is very little human attention,” says Peavey. “Their job is to bond with the sheep, not the shepherd.”
The Great Pyrenees is an ideal choice because they are mellow and reluctant to chase. Like the wolf in sheep’s clothing, it is believed that ancient shepherds tried to match the color of the dog with their sheep so that they would blend in, making them harder for prey to detect. While the great white dogs are certainly intimidating and will chase off an intruder, the chase is typically short lived and the dog returns to its flock.
The border collie, on the other hand, is all about the bond with the shepherd and does the heavy lifting in the relationship. Their job is to cut the workload of the shepherd by sizing up a situation and acting upon it. Ultimately, there are two things the dog wants to do: please its handler and its herd. Most border collies will naturally herd just about anything—ducks, other dogs, children, bikes, cars …
The handler’s job is to understand the breed’s natural instincts and guide the dog by associating commands to those instincts. “We let the dogs tell us when it’s time to place pressure, that’s when we start giving them more,” says dog trainer and breeder Don Helsley.
Helsley has been actively involved in raising, training and judging sheepdogs for more than 24 years. He believes that to be successful the handler must trust, respect and be fair to his dogs and expect the same in return.
Taking a puppy through the learning process is long and can take a man through various stages—from euphoria to utter despair, thinking your dog has forgotten everything you ever taught it. However, Helsley concludes that training pays off—thereare times when he can step outside and communicate with his dog without words, as if it can read his mind. And those moments are what have kept him involved with sheepdogs for so long.
Helsley has had several successful dogs but when he speaks of “The Wizard,” his current top dog, his breath slows a bit and you can hear the tenderness in his heart as he explains his philosophy on what makes a great sheepdog. “I like a dog that would give his life for me and in exchange I would give my life for him,” he said. It’s a true partnership. -Nancy Glick
A LONG STORY PUNCTUATED BY SONG
The Tale of Fiddler Rosalie Sorrels
Though she’s often referred to as “The Travelin’ Lady,” there are few people who are more tied to their home state than folk singer Rosalie Sorrels.
She’s always been a pioneer, though she’d dismiss that description by pointing out all those who came before, walking the roads upon which she walked, singing and playing her beloved music.
But firstly, she’s an Idaho native—nearly 80 years old—who lives alone in a rustic cabin her father built at the end of a windy, rutted dirt road in a canyon deep in the mountains of Idaho. Her ancestry includes a family of readers, writers, singers and storytellers who have defined her approach to everything. Especially the art of storytelling. At school, Sorrels learned to read and write music and play piano to “see how it worked.” But she said she “really liked being a storyteller, which is what my performing style became—a long story punctuated by songs.”
Her mother’s family lived on a farm near Twin Falls, and her paternal grandfather, Robert Stanton Stringfellow, was an Episcopalian minister who settled his family of boys on Grimes Creek, near Idaho City. Among her father’s brothers, two were “card-carrying members of the Communist party.” One was a college professor, the other a newspaperman.
“They were open to all kinds of arts,” she said. “My father sang and played piano, and my mother was interested in theatre and poetry.” In fact, her mother, Nancy Stringfellow, ran the Bookshop on Main Street in Boise for decades.
“I lived in another cabin when I was little,” she said, pointing out an expansive front window in her cabin on a sunny winter day. “Then Dad and some friends built this one,” she said. “He made everything out of what was around. I’m very happy to be able to live here with my loud-mouth dog, Dudley. He’s a great companion. This is a mansion as far as I’m concerned.”
In the early 1960s, with husband Jim Sorrels, a fellow theatre and music enthusiast, Sorrels relocated to Salt Lake City with their family. They were at the center of a musical crowd who founded the Intermountain Folk Music Council, which encouraged the spread of folk music and the collection of Western folksongs.
After her marriage broke up, Rosalie and her five kids headed east to Saratoga Springs, New York, where she became a regular at America’s oldest continuously running folk music coffeehouse, Caffé Lena. A fixture on the scene, she became close to such people as Pete Seeger, Mike and Marge Seeger and Dave Van Ronk. The cream of the folk world passed through there in those days, she said.
“I went back and forth across country, performed a lot in San Francisco and was popular in Canada, also Mexico and Central and South America. I got around, considering the gaggle of people following me around everywhere,” she laughed.
In 1966, Sorrels played the Newport Folk Festival in Rhode Island, cementing her reputation as one of the most important voices in the movement.
“I really like performing, and I’m good at it. I made 27 albums all together, but I’m just as interested in traditional folk music as much as what I wrote. I loved going to people’s houses and interviewing them over the course of a couple weeks,” she said.
Her final CD, “My Last Go Round,” was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2009.
She learned even more about collecting folklore from Utahans Austin and Alta Fife, who collected Mormon history and culture. “They collected songs and stories, and taught me how to look for the seeds of these,” Rosalie explained.
In 1991, she wrote “Way Out in Idaho” for the Idaho Commission of the Arts. It’s a collection of songs and stories. Sitting in her cabin under a ceiling plastered with long-ago-held concert posters, she flipped through her own book, showing me photographs and telling stories about the photographs, songs, poems and singers on each of the pages.
“I had a marvelous time doing it. People loved telling me their stories. I would sing with them. They’re so tickled anyone gives a rat’s ass,” she said.
In the 1970s, Sorrels played at the Leadville Espresso in Ketchum (now The Picket Fence), owned by her friend, the late Millie Wiggins. Coincidentally, her grandfather, Reverend Stringfellow, used to preach in the same building when it was Ketchum’s only church. Over the years, she’s returned often to the Wood River Valley. In 1978, she and her old performing partner, Bruce “Utah” Phillips, played at the second annual Northern Rockies Folk Festival. She also loves the National Old-Time Fiddlers Contest & Festival in Weiser, but has all but retired now. Her live work is now the stuff of legend, the seeds of the stories she uncovered living on through music.
As the late John Wasserman, entertainment critic at the San Francisco Chronicle, once wrote about her, “She did something that only the best can ever do; she brought back memories that we never had. She’s one of the geniuses, Rosalie Sorrels is.” -Dana DuGan
Sun Valley Writers’ Conference Unveiled
The annual Writers’ Conference is the premier literary event in the Valley. If you love to read or write it’s a “must see.” The SVM staff interviewed a few stars of last year’s conference.
Despite being a native New Englander, S.C. “Sam” Gwynne has really made a name for himself as a Texan. The award-winning journalist spoke about his Pulitzer Prize-nominated, historical book, Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History to a packed Sun Valley Pavilion last summer. Gwynne jokingly entitled his talk about the brutal opening of the American West: “Connecticut Yankee too dumb to know any better stumbles upon Old Western frontier.”
MM: Did you enjoy speaking at the Sun Valley Writers’ Conference?
SCG: It was a phenomenal experience. Everyone was so helpful and friendly and organized. Great crowds, great facilities, beautiful location. You can’t beat the atmosphere or the peer group as a writer.
MM: My dad actually gave me a copy of the book while we were visiting him on Cape Cod, which seems like a long way away to be reading about the bloody history of West Texas. What inspired you to write this story and why do think it has done so well?
SCG: I thought it was a good story that very few people outside of Texas seemed to know about. It’s gone beyond everything I expected (spending more than 80 weeks on The New York Times Best Sellers list). Even though it’s a “blood and guts” Western book, half of the readers are women. I think it’s because it has a solid two-part structure. No matter where you are in the large back story about the Comanches, you’re never far from the intimate front story of the Parkers.
MM: Is part of the appeal of the book because the Parkers (a family that still has descendents in Texas) is a story about the ultimate Western pioneers?
SCG: The Parkers are the ultimate pioneer family, the essence of what an American pioneer was all about. They are the reason why so many Americans moved West. They were hard-nosed people who were able to carve out an existence for themselves.
MM: Had you been to Idaho before and would you like to return?
SCG: Yes, once in 1980, and, yes, I definitely would. –Mike McKenna
This is not the first time producer Elise Pearlstein (Oscar-nominee for “Food, Inc.”) and director Jessica Yu have teamed up to cause a political stir through documentary filmmaking. Working together for 10 years on projects like “Protagonist” and “The Living Museum,” they joined together to focus on “the most pressing issue of our time and our future”—the water crisis. During the 2012 summer Sun Valley Writers’ Conference, where “Last Call at the Oasis” was screened, Pearlstein shared her thoughts with Sun Valley Magazine about the film, and what the water crisis means for future generations.
KE: Why did you want to make a film about water?
EP: I hope that it will be a wake-up call because there’s nothing we depend on more than water. Everybody is ultimately affected by the fact that you need water to grow food and, right now, we’re in the worst drought that we’ve had since the Dust Bowl.
KE: You focus on four different regions in the film—Australia, Singapore, the Middle East and the United States. Why are those particular areas significant?
EP: When we were filming, Australia was going through one of the worst droughts they’d ever faced and all the issues that Australian farmers were facing, California farmers will face in 15 years. So it’s a bit of a cautionary tale—what will happen if we do nothing?
Contrarily, Singapore is one of the most proactive and advanced places in the world with its water policy. They now are literally the leaders of water technology in desalinization, recycled water and recycled sewage water. They even harvest their rain. So we look to Singapore as a way to be proactive. In the Middle East, we found an organization of Israelis, Jordanians and Palestinians who are all collaborating to improve the quality of the Jordan River, because it is a shared water source. We were inspired by what they were doing—taking tension as an opportunity to cooperate rather than create more conflict. And in the United States, we have a lot to learn. We consume a lot of water without really taking water issues into account.- Kate Elgee
Born of Indian parents who were teachers in Ethiopia, Abraham Verghese, MD, MACP, is Professor for the Theory and Practice of Medicine at the Stanford University School of Medicine and Senior Associate Chair of the Department of Internal Medicine. Few have combined with such skill and precision a career as physician and that as author. Verghese has had success with both non-fiction and his most recent title, Cutting for Stone, a work of fiction that has sold over a million copies and has been on The New York Times Paperback Fiction list for more than two years.
LS: You are a doctor, what prompted you to begin a writing career?
AV: The initial impulse was from living through the extraordinary experience in Tennessee in the mid 80s with HIV and the sense that I was living through “A Great American Story.” I felt this great desire to tell the story. I wrote a scientific paper describing this phenomenon of having so many men with HIV in this small town in Tennessee, and even as I wrote it, I felt that the cold and unimaginative language of science didn’t begin to explain the heartache that was going on in that small town in Tennessee. And that was really the moment that I became a writer seriously.
LS: How is science changing the practice of medicine?
AV:Technology is advancing medicine. Absolutely. We have all these biologicals for treating cancers now that require us to understand them at a molecular level. But I think the great danger is that it is hard for that to be delivered by anything other than a big institution and a team of people. In the process, the patient-physician relationship, which has a sacredness around it, is greatly jeopardized.
LS: What is your definition of healing?
AV: It’s easy for science to deal with the disease in an abstract fashion. But the disease is always occurring in an individual, which immediately changes everything. It’s not enough to deal with the disease and treat the disease; you have to also understand and treat the patient. And I think that distinction is the distinction between healing and curing. … In other words, there are many diseases that you can fix, but just by fixing them you haven’t satisfied the patient. And conversely, there are many diseases that you can’t fix, but you can still do something to satisfy the patient and to make them feel better. –Laurie Sammis
SUN VALLEY ON ICE
Don’t miss the best show in the Valley
Enjoy Olympic medalists and world-class figure skaters under the stars on Sun Valley’s historic ice sheet this summer. Dining al fresco at the Sun Valley Lodge Terrace buffet and an all new show with enhanced lights and sound add to the excitement and are sure to delight viewers of all ages—and don’t miss the spectacular fireworks show on July 4th.
Ever since Sonja Henie skated and twirled across the screen, and into our hearts, for the filming of 20th Century Fox’s classic movie Sun Valley Serenade (1941), the ice shows have been an enduring and star-studded staple in the growing entertainment scene at Sun Valley Resort. Henie, a world skating champion (at the age of 14) and three-time consecutive Olympic figure skating gold medalist, set the bar high on the caliber of skating featured at the outdoor rink. And the all-star lineup at the Sun Valley on Ice shows, presented every Saturday night from July 4 through Labor Day, have continued to raise the bar year after year.
Showcasing the world’s greatest champions and Olympic medalists, the summer ice shows promise to delight with a spectacular lineup of new stars, new athletic routines and all new sound. So grab a seat on the Lodge Terrace and enjoy a glass of champagne under the stars, or cozy up in a wrap on the bleachers rinkside and enjoy a stunning cast featuring the elite of the skating world—many of whom may be turning in their last public performance before heading to Sochi to compete this winter.
Want to experience the action firsthand? Then grab the family and head to Sun Valley’s historic ice rink to take a few turns. Open ice is available daily from and you can book a group or private lesson or just watch from rinkside—who knows, you may even see an Olympic gold medalist practicing a championship routine.