Community June 24, 2013

Old/New West Valley Innovators

The neighborhoods of the Wood River Valley are filled with incredible and inspiring people. On the following pages we profile a handful of our neighbors, Valley locals who are helping keep the pioneering spirit of the West alive.


Haillie Taylor

Plain and simple, Haillie Taylor is an all-around cowgirl. Long blond hair flowing, big silver belt buckle shining, this 19-year-old can jump off a galloping horse and have a goat on its back with its legs tied up in a matter of seconds. She has been riding since she was a baby, and she always says her “pleases,” “thank yous,” and “yes ma’ams.”

A quintessential element at the heart of the West, rodeo is about speed, guts, boots and dirt—and Haillie has been competing in it since she was seven years old. Over her career in the arena, Haillie has wrangled high results in barrel racing, goat tying, pole bending, girls’ cutting, team roping and breakaway roping. Last summer, Haillie qualified in five events for the Idaho State High School Rodeo Finals, and although she just missed Nationals by half a point, she did finish fifth in the qualifiers and then went on to the Silver State International Rodeo to claim fifth in breakaway roping.

Haillie’s family moved to Bellevue from Boise when she was in second grade and her parents, Kelli and Brad, who were practically raising the infatuated young lady atop ponies and horses, found rodeo as a solution to her continually asking to go faster in her English riding lessons. Haillie beamed, “It’s fast and adrenaline-paced and it takes a lot of skill to ride horses that quickly while keeping them in control and knowing what they’re doing.”

Haillie was recruited by Grand Mesa University in Grand Junction, Colorado, for their rodeo team. In between her fall and spring college rodeo seasons (and her plan to compete in 20-30 rodeos this summer), she is studying to be an elementary school teacher. This, she points out, will leave her summers free to continue whipping up dirt on the western stage.

Haillie noted that, “I thought I was ready to leave the Valley, but now I really miss the Pioneer Mountains every morning. The mountains are what make it home.”

Nonetheless, Haillie has taken an ingrained Sun Valley riding practice with her to Colorado, as she remarked, “When I was growing up in Idaho and first started riding on my own, I’d always go ride on the trails and in the ditch plates. That was the best thing; it was better than riding in the arena every day. The trails in the Wood River Valley are still my favorite.” While at Grand Mesa, Haillie has three scheduled practices with the rodeo coaches every week, but on the other days, this Idaho girl gets the horses out on the open range, riding the way she grew up.

Whether it was competing on national television and in front of thousands of people at Nationals when she was in middle school, or having a goat’s collar break and chase her horse away in the goat-tying competition of a Junior Rodeo, this all-around cowgirl has had one wild ride.

Will we be seeing Haillie Taylor back in Sun Valley as she rocks the rodeo in the years to come? That answer is certainly a “Yes, ma’am.” The Wood River Valley mountains draw both the old and new back every time.- Kira Tenney


Galen Hanselman

Idaho is a haven for backcountry pilots. And here’s why: There are more unpaved strips in the Gem State, 80, than any other state in the lower 48.

“A lot are in Forest Service areas and on BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land and in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Area, which is really unique. Church (the late Idaho senator) was very specific that those strips in the wilderness area wouldn’t be closed. He wanted it accessible to people,” explained pilot Galen Hanselman of Hailey.

“My joy is flying and going places and sharing it with others,” Hanselman said with a smile. “There’s a niche of pilots who look for these out-of-the-way places. Backcountry pilots are different. Some do it for camaraderie and will fly together and some do it to get away. I like to explore things and go to places where people haven’t been before.”

The founder and former owner of Sentinel Fire & Security, Hanselman has lived in the Wood River Valley since 1962. He became a pilot in 1980, though his love of planes goes back to his “dirt poor” boyhood in Ohio. In the early 1950s, a neighbor used to pop by in his Super Cub.

“I thought I was pushing the envelope with technology—my father got me building radios. All of a sudden, my idea of technology was just blown out by the idea of flying,” said Hanselman.

The fascination continued, thanks to Ben Hurtig, who ran the Sun Valley Gun Club for decades. “He brought a headset to me to fix,” Hanselman said. “When I returned it to the airport, he asked if I wanted to go for a ride. It was my first time in a small plane. I was hooked.”

Hanselman shook his head, happily remembering, “That was half a million dollars ago.” He then erupted with what one becomes familiar within his presence: an explosive laugh. “I used it in my business quite a bit to load up a crew and tools and go anywhere in Idaho. It allowed me to greatly expand the region I worked in,” he explained.

After selling his business, flying gave Hanselman the opportunity to do something he really wanted to do, which was to fly.

“I’d heard about these airstrips in the backcountry. The curiosity opened up the avenue,” he said.

He considered making a video to support his habit of flying but realized the project made more sense when approached as a guidebook. Out of this was born Q.E.I Publishing, a one-man show with Hanselman as pilot, researcher, writer, photographer, drafter and publisher of high quality pilot guides and charts for unexplored regions. “I have a book that you have to have in your airplane,” he said.

In 1993, he published “Fly Idaho,” and followed it up with similar guide books to places like Baja and Utah. Hanselman’s also completed state-commissioned, intricate, hand-drawn aeronautical maps for, among other places, Iowa, Montana, South Dakota, and two editions for the state of Idaho.

“There’s a growing appreciation of the work I’m doing,” Hanselman said. In fact, he’s a bit of a celebrity.

Hanselman, a board member on the Idaho Aviation Foundation, speaks to such groups as the Salt Lake City’s Short Wing Piper Club. But it’s still the flying for which Hanselman gets up in the morning.

“Idaho is recognized as the state for backcountry flying because of our strips. We’re so lucky we have this,” he said.

One of Hanselman’s very favorite spots is Soldier Bar on the Big Creek tributary of the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. “There’s a bench on one side of the river with a dead end, cliffs on both sides. It’s best described as three, 500-foot runways, end to end, but not straight. It takes some skill. I like the fishing there,” Hanselman said while pointing to his fishing gear in the corner that always goes with him.

“It’s a beautiful area—salmon still run up the river, native cutthroat (trout) are there. You got to watch your step. One day I came across four rattlesnakes. Don’t stick your hand under a rock without looking,” he laughed. “It keeps the weak of heart out of there. I also like the trails. During the 1901 Gold Rush at Thunder Mountain, everyone was staking claims by following Indian trails through the mountains. It’s kind of neat to retrace those routes.”

Of course not all of his stories are quite as peaceful. There are tales of close calls, stranded planes and risky rescues. He once hauled a pregnant woman off the Middle Fork on a rafting trip.

“I think she was ready to go home too,” Hanselman laughed.” I didn’t ask questions.”-Dana DuGan

Bryan Dilworth

For as long as there have been cowboys working cattle across the ranges and prairies of Idaho, there have been poets riding amongst them.

“When you’re riding with the same group of people, day after day, year after year, everyone has heard all your stories and your jokes and they really don’t want to hear ‘em anymore. But if you can put ‘em to a rhyme, they’ll listen,” explained Bryan Dilworth, a cowboy poet who owns a ranch south of Bellevue.

Born in Hailey and raised in Carey, Bryan grew up “stealing rides” from his uncle’s ranch and was first exposed to cowboy poetry at a young age. His grandparents would cut out poems from Western Stockman Magazine and hang them on the fridge. Bryan quickly learned to love to read, thanks to the words of legends like Will Ogilvie, Bruce Kiskaddon and Badger Clark.

For Bryan, and lots of folks like him, cowboy poems capture the true essence of life in the West in a fun, rhythmic style. The first stanza from “Ridin’” by Badger Clark offers a good example: “There is some that like the city/ Grass that’s curried smooth and green/Theaytres and stranglin’ collars/Wagons run by gasoline /But for me it’s hawse and saddle/Every day without a change/ And a desert sun a-blazin’/On a hundred miles of range.”

“It’s hard to remember all the little things in life, but you can remember all the poems,” Bryan said about an art form that has traditionally been passed down orally. That’s why printed collections can be hard to come by, especially old, classic “pieces.” Bryan’s search for books for his impressive library of cowboy poetry even led him to explore Australia, where the unique style of verse has long been popular.

Cowboy poetry’s heyday was between the 1880s and the early 1940s. But despite losing mainstream popularity after the start of World War II, cowboy poetry never actually died out. It just went quiet for a spell. Its revival began in the early 1980s when the popular Elko National Cowboy Poetry Gathering was born and Johnny Carson was featuring cowboy poets on the “The Tonight Show.”

“I don’t know if poetry evolves with the person or the person evolves with the poetry,” Bryan mused about a passion that now finds him reciting poetry at all sorts of gatherings. Over the last half-dozen years, Bryan has shared pieces everywhere from senior centers and elementary schools, to festivals like the big one in Elko and the growing one in Shoshone each September called the “Lost’n Lava Cowboy Gathering.”

“Cowboy poetry talks about pulling cattle through terrible storms and about dealing with horses and people. It talks about having respect for God, people, animals. It’s something we need to keep alive,” he said. “ We need to bring back the cowboy way.”

Bryan has more than four hours worth of cowboy poetry memorized, but he can’t recite it all “without making a mistake,” he joked. As we wrapped up our interview while sitting in the Hailey Coffee Company on a rainy Thursday morning, he shared one of his favorites from Will Ogilvie, which begins: “The hooves of the horses – O’ Witching and Sweet/ is the music earth steals from the iron-shod feet/ No whisper of lover, no trilling of bird/ Can stir me as hooves of the horses have stirred.”-Mike McKenna

This article appears in the Summer 2013 Issue of Sun Valley Magazine.