For Those Who Live the West and
Those Who Dream of Living It!
 ©Always Cowboy 2010 All Rights Reserved. No reproduction of the works on this site in any publication or media without the express written consent of site owner, author, artist or photographer. All individual copyright laws prevail for featured works. Site design by Wiener Dog. Photographic images ©Angela Wilkes-ABCPhotography.com, ©DLHill, ©DMHill unless otherwise noted.

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Cowboy Poetry Workshops

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More Information to Come.
 Rancher ~ Poet  Columnist ~ Storyteller  Songwriter
Motivational Speaker

Read Debra's Weekly Syndicated
Western Humor and Cowboy Poetry Column
The Secret to Cowboy Life? Simple...

She wears his yellow slicker,
  though it almost drags the ground,
It seems to make things easier,
  as if He is still around.

He’s left her some big boots,
  she’s gonna’ have to fill,
But his old yellow slicker,
  seems to give her the Will.

The Will to keep on going,
  the Will to be strong,
The Will to make their dreams come true. 
  and remember where she belongs.

She wears it to feed the cattle,
  and when she cleans the stalls,
She hangs it on that high nail by the door,
  and remembers He was tall.

She wears it every time,
  storm clouds came rushing in,
She even wears it sometimes,
  just so the tears will not begin.

She wears it to keep the wet out,
and to hold the cold at bay,
It eases the hardness of the ground,
each time she kneels to pray.

She wears it to chop the tanks,
and when she mends the fence,
She wears it on the best of days,
and on the ones that make no sense.

She wears it though it’s ragged,
and has completely lost its charm,
Because, if she is inside of it,
she’s back inside his arms.

It’s just an old yellow slicker,
  but it makes her life complete,
It reminds her what’s important,
  and it keeps her on her feet.

Debra's Weekly Column


A cowgirl's work is never done,
Endless chores keep her
on the run,
Before the dawn,
past the set of sun,
With no rest around the bend.
She never questions
ranch life's flow,
Or all the tasks that keep her
on the go.
But there's one thing
she wants to know,
"Hey -- what's a weekend?"

-- Debra Coppinger Hill

(This appeared in USA Weekend in 2003 in an article on Cowgirl Poets by Kathleen Conroy. Debra was one of three Cowgirl Poets chosen to be featured in this article.)
 Daughter of the 4DH with her AQHA colts
Two Sugs Please and Sugalump.
"This tribute is actually a compilation of all my Grandfathers and Great-Grandfathers. I pulled all of their traits together into this one piece, because it seemed to make more sense that way. They all had common traits and habits. I suppose all great men are like that: compassionate, wise and strong.

Common Sense, Men and Horses combines all the guidance and wisdom each of them passed on to me. The things they taught me, each memory and each moment, is their gift of life well-lived to me. I attribute my own love of horses and the men who train and do it well, to them. To this day I measure all men by their standard and image.

I admire them, I respect them, and I love and miss them; those Cowboys, one and all, whose lessons stand the test of time."                                                       

~ D.C.Hill ~

You see, the decisions that we make
  should be rooted in our common sense.
Like horses, we should use our instincts,
  or be prepared to accept the consequence.

For no matter what we do in life,
  no matter where we roam,
We all are part of a family herd,
  and we can always come home.

So we watched 'em work for hours,
  as I hung on every word he had to say;
About life and love and horses;
  how God hears us when we pray.

I simply took it for granted
  that he would always be,
Sitting on that fence rail,
  talking and laughing with me.

Time makes changes as it passes by;
  I grew up and followed my star.
But in times of trouble I'd hear his voice,
  saying "Remember whose child you are."

He taught me to read the world
  though I didn't know it at the time.
I learned about strength and self-respect;
  how to recognize the best in mankind.

Oh, I made mistakes, but have no regrets,
  for each is valuable in its own way.
Combined with his words and an education,
  they are a part of who I am today.

And nothing ever really gets me down,
  because of these things I can be sure;
That home is where the heart is,
  and that love will forever endure.

So I honor this Cowboy philosopher,
  who taught me to follow my heart's voice;
To see things exactly for what they are
  and that happiness is a choice.

I've come to realize all those things I learned,
  from books and college courses,
Will never hold a candle to his lesson,
  on common sense, and men and horses. 

                                                © Debra Coppinger Hill

We perched atop the corral,
  as he read the men and horses,
And he told me about common sense
  and it's amazing, magical forces.

We watched the men choose their mounts,
  some were firm, but kind;
While others used plain brute force,
  to make their horses mind.

He said, "Dealing with horses and people
  is a special kind of art.
If you watch 'em work, you will learn
  what is truly in a man's heart.

For though it once was common place,
  common sense ain't common any more
And many of the basic rules of life,
  some folks will choose to ignore.

The bad ones will make excuses,
  tell you the Old Cowboy ways have died.
But anyone with common sense
  will know that's a lie.

The truth is just as obvious
  as these fellows working the pens.
There will always be Cowboys
  as long as there are horses and men.

And just as it takes all kinds of horses,
  from renegades to leaders to make a herd;
There will also always be outlaws
  as well as men true to their word.

You see, a man who can't,
  will often bully his way through,
And how a man treats his horse
  is how he'll end up treating you.

But the man who can, simply will,
  he won't have to prove a thing.
He'll have the courage and the sand
  to face whatever life brings.

He never will desert you,
  even in the darkest hour
and he'll have the sense to know
  when to turn to a Higher Power.

The phrase, "a soft hand with horses,"
  applies to human beings too,
A man who is one with his horse
  will likewise be one with you.

Seen in a family photo is Debra's Great Grand-Daddy Ed who worked on the King Ranch as a young man. Grand-Daddy is seen here with Debra's Mother Gayle and his horse 'Ranger'.
"The days all run together
but I can't really say I mind,
For my time among the horses
is the most peaceful that I find."

From "A Long Day", by Debra Coppinger Hill
 UDODA (Father)

My Father
wears a coat of many colors
for all the world to see,
that deep inside his soul
beats the heart of a Cherokee.

What have I learned from his spirit,
his laughing, loving ways?
I learned the past belongs to the present,
Not to waste my younger days.

The stories of my ancestors
are his legacy to me;
That honoring them and who they were
determines who I shall be.

I am my Father’s daughter
and I can only hope,
that one day I will be worthy
to wear my father’s coat.

©Debra Coppinger Hill
*U-do-da = the Cherokee word for Father

Stir the campfire boys,
Stir till it grows cold,
And the embers stop their glowin’,
And the sparks quit poppin’ bold.

As we come together,
And clasp our hands to pray,
Let’s thank the Lord above,
For one more Cowboy day.

Stir the campfire boys,
Stir till it’s all out,
As we talk together,
Of the things that life’s about.

And as we laugh together,
And good memories are made,
We’ll thank the Lord,
For one more Cowboy day.

Stir the campfire boys,
As we fade into the night,
Secure in the knowledge,
That inside we hold the light.

And as the fire dies slowly,
Let it leave not a trace,
That here upon these rocks,
Stood a proud and noble race. 

Stir the campfire boys,
As we make one last request.
That each and every day,
We do our cowboy best.

And as the smoke drifts skyward,
To join the Milky Way,
We’ll close our eyes and thank the Lord,
For one more Cowboy day.

                                                            ©Debra Coppinger Hill


You don’t have to be born to the land to love it,
You just have to open you heart,
For a taste for the land is acquired,
Like the taste for a fine piece of art.

It’s a matter of desire and conviction,
Of knowing what to leave and what to keep,
It’s the strength to know the difference,
Between your heart’s wants and its needs.

It’s being brave enough to walk into the darkness,
Yet all the while knowing that it’s right,
It’s standing firm on what you believe,
Until, by faith you walk into the light.

Belonging to the land is a journey,
Around a circle of life without end,
Giving and receiving the Earth’s bounty,
For in it, you are truly born again.

    ©Debra Coppinger Hill

I went to work for him that year,
  early in the fall,
It was my job to help feed,
  water and clean the stalls.

The quarter horses that he raised
  were among the finest to be seen.
Then there were the mustangs,
  rough and rank and mean.

From time to time, the mustangs
  would somehow make an escape,
No matter how carefully it was chained,
  they seemed to be able to open the gate.

Then we’d saddle-up and chase ‘em,
  and push ‘em back to the pens,
When it came to the mustangs,
  trouble knew no end.

He never really answered,
  when I asked him why,
He kept these three, who were dangerous,
  with such wildness in their eyes.

Once, he said, “They’re the last of our kind,
  a rare and special breed,
Spirits, not of this earth,
  waiting to be freed.”

This didn’t help me understand,
  the mustangs or this man,
Who seemed to keep them at all costs,
  though they didn’t wear his brand.

Then , one day as we fed, I saw him...
  as He took loose the chain...
Softly, he said, “Come with me”,
  and we walked to the truck in the rain.

We rode the truck to the hill,
  where we could see for miles.
Dropping the tailgate, he motioned to sit,
  and gave me a knowing smile.

Below, the mustangs had finished their feed,
  and as if they had good sense,
They began their morning journey,
  around their pasture, checking fence.

When they came to the gate,
  for a moment, they did pause,
And gave a glance towards the hill,
  as if they knew the cause. 

I remember the next few moments,
  forever, they are etched into my mind,
And the emotion I felt, as we sat in silence,
  never again, shall I find.

We watched them bolt from the gate,
  running for all they were worth,
All four feet up off the ground,
  Flying, between Heaven and Earth.

The explanation that he gave,
  he didn’t have to give.
But, his words ring in my memory,
  all the days I live.

He said, “ I let them go sometimes,
  so I can remember, when I see,
What it’s like to break loose,
  and truly, be Free.

For awhile I’m allowed, by Grace of God,
  to be a part of wondrous, unseen forces...
And that, my fine young friend,
  is why I keep wild horses." 

                                               ©Debra Coppinger Hill
Debra's Column



I have stood in the Holy Place
  looking down on what God sees;
The mountains, grass and water
  and the Eagles in the trees.

I’ve listened to the sacred song
  of Earth and Wind and Sky;
Opened my heart up to it all
  and never questioned why.

Some call it Blessings
  Some call it Grace
Some call it Destiny
  to look upon God’s face.

To earn the heart we’re given
  we must freely give it away,
In the name of One much greater,
  we receive gifts for which we pray.

To stand with His creations,
  to know we are his creations too;
Is a humbling revelation
  through which our souls are renewed.

Come stand with me in the Holy Place,
  look down on what God sees,
The mountains, grass and water
  and the Eagles in the trees.

                        ©Debra Coppinger Hill 


They say that she is crazy
  talking to the canyon,
Listening to the voices
  that echo from the rocks;
She knows they are out there,
  the spirits of the Ancients,
And the moon, it makes her restless
  as it lights the path she walks.

The Story-Keeper told her
  the water there flows crimson;
That the grass for the ponies,
  is lush and green and tall.
Among the stalks of sky-blue corn,
  medicine drums are calling;
The Old Ones shadow-dancing
  as twilight starts to fall.

She burns a little sage
  on a fire made of cedar;
Sending prayers out to them
  in a shower of sparks and smoke.
The flames bid her welcome
  into the Sacred Circle;
Her flute repeating softly,
  the promises that he spoke.

For her sacrifice and faith
  the Old Ones send a message;
A hawk dips down and beckons
  to follow ever high.
The path this steep and rocky,
  but she just keeps on climbing;
Waiting for the moment
  when she’ll be allowed to fly.

On day she simply disappeared.
  I like to think she found it;
That emerald endless valley
  where the Spirit dancers dwell.
The only question left…
  do we deserve to go there?
I guess that’s just a story
  that only time can tell.

So, will they think I’m crazy,
  talking to the canyon?
Listening for her voice
  to echo from the stones…
Their thoughts do not concern me
  in my quest for the Great Forever;
Wandering the Crimson Canyon trails,
  searching for my home.

©Debra Coppinger Hill
*With love to TR…who set my feet back upon the good road.
Debra's Poetry *Page 1

*Old Yellow Slicker
*Swapping Spirits
*One Question
*Common Sense,
            Men and Horses
*The Land
*One More Cowboy Day
*Eagles in the Trees
*Echoes of the Canyon

She said "I can't explain it,
there are no words of course,
For that moment when you're training,
when you truly connect with the horse.

Everything comes together,
it sets your soul to reeling,
You either 'get it' or you don't,
it's an indescribable feeling.

So, call it Swapping Spirits,
because nothing can compare,
To when you are the horse and the horse is you,
and you're breathing the same air.

©Debra Coppinger Hill
 4DH RANCH ~*~
 Cutting & Ranch Work Bred Horses.

The "Aunties" coming up to visit the new baby.

" I walk out across the pasture and lose myself among the horses. Weaving back and forth among them, standing with them and leaning against them I become a part of the herd. There as my heart beats
with their's my spirit is healed and I am made whole."

             *Debra Coppinger Hill from her upcoming book 'Rancher's Rhapsody'.

When the horses talk to me,
they tell me many things;
The whats and hows of yesterday
and why the Nighthawk sings.

I learn the meaning of the dance,
between animals and men;
They inspire me to take a chance
and look back on where I've been.

On this plain, where we live,
in the Circle at the Center,
We receive more than we give,
when priveleged to enter.

So I close my eyes in trust and walk
And I listen, when the horses talk.

©Debra Coppinger Hill


Rural Oklahoma Rancher and Horsewoman Debra Coppinger Hill writes what she knows best, Cowboys, Cowgirls, Horses, Cattle and the Rural Western Lifestyle. With a family rich in Cowboys and Cherokees, Debra's writings reflect family history and stories, as well as stories about her friends and neighbors.

In addition to numerous other awards for her poetry and performing, Debra has been honored by the Academy of Western Artists with their Will Rogers Award. She also received the very first TR Stephenson Memorial Cowboy Poetry Award from the San Antonio Poetry Society. Her poetry also holds awards from the Southwest Nighthawks Storytellers Association and the Western Poets Circle. Debra has performed on the floor of the Oklahoma House of Representatives and was presented with a Citation by the State of Oklahoma for efforts in preserving Cowboy literature.

RIDING DRAG, Debra's weekly column features stories about life at the family's brood mare operation on the 4DH Ranch, Cowboy Poetry and happenings in the world of Cowboys and Cowgirls. RIDING DRAG is featured here at ALWAYS COWBOY and weekly in publications, books around the world and in a multitude on places on the Web. She is excited to be a USA Correspondent for MyOutbacktv's Outback Adventure eMagazine of Australia.

Debra and her partners Robert Beene and Angela Wilkes teamed up to produce the book ONCE A COWBOY and are currently working on another compilation of their poetry and stories.

She has performed and taught Cowboy Poetry across North America and abroad. She is proud to have been invited twice to teach at the Gerard Manley Hopkins Summer School in Monasterevin, Ireland; where she worked with foreign students from around the world.

Debra also does motivational speaking on cancer survival. She is currently working on a book where she shares her own experiences with her cancers and the healing power she found in her horses.

Please enjoy selections of Debra's Poetry below.

To Contact Debra to perform, speak or teach at your event go to:
Debra Coppinger Hill has been invited to Ride Drag driving the chase vehicle behind a motor scooter with a side car. The trip across upper Montana will take place in June 2011. Second Drag Rider will be USN Chief Jimmie D. Woods, Retired. Who will be in the sidecar? All we know is that they go by "Bailout." And who will be riding the scooter in with no intentions other than to gather good memories? Well, we will be announcing that soon! We will tell you that it is a Cowboy Poet, playwrite and book author with a lifetime of ranch experience and a rural lifestyle and a great sense of humor! 
She’s worn it across a life-time,
  and she’s never felt alone,
She’s raised their cows, raised their kids,
  and she’s made their farm a home.

When she’s gone, she tells the kids,
  just hang it on that nail in the barn,
And when you look at it, your hearts will know,  
  his yellow slicker saved the farm.

©Debra Coppinger Hill
* Debra's signature piece is Dedicated with Love
to Mrs. Oleta Nichols, A True Texas Lady.
*It has been recorded by Jean Prescott with music by Kevin Davis and appears on Debra's CD Common Sense, Men and Horses as well as on Jean's Tapestry of the West.