Author offers tribute to a horse


Last updated 11/21/2023 at 10:25am

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Gary Tewalt's new book is available locally.

Love is sometimes called the greatest power in the universe. It was love that triggered the Trojan War. Love has been the driving force behind medical discoveries that have saved millions of lives, like the Salk vaccine for polio.

On a local front, love for a friend, his daughter, and his friend's horse inspired Gary Tewalt to write a poem and finally publish it in a book.

Gary Tewalt is a fifth-generation member of a family who, in 1911, settled in the alpine shadow of the Three Sisters portion of the Cascade Range in Central Oregon. The town, which nestled near the eastern foothills of North Sisters Peak, was the home of a few hundred hardy souls when his family settled there. Back then, most families earned their livings by either logging, ranching, or farming.

Hunting and fishing were a big part of the culture and a welcomed source of meat. By the time Tewalt was a young person, all the roads around the town were unpaved except for Highway 20, which ran through the center of town.

Sisters was a "real west" town in the 1940s and 1950s. Northern Paiute sometimes camped in town during their fall migrations into the foothills of the mountains to pick huckleberries.

Horses were a big part of the culture, even to such an extent that a rodeo was formally established in 1943, operated on land donated by Tewalt's uncle just north of town, until 1975. Later the rodeo moved to a larger parcel of land south of town due to its success and the need for more parking areas for the attendees' cars, many more corrals for stock, and better camping areas for the cowboy participants.

Sisters Area Chamber of Commerce

This is the world that Twister, the Appaloosa horse, came to in the 1970s. Twister's first owner trained the gentle and intelligent horse for performance work. Twister even performed in the Cow Palace, in Daly City, California, the home of the annual Grand National Rodeo, Horse & Stock Show since 1941.

When Twister was in his prime, around 6 years old, his owner got tangled up in a divorce, which forced him to sell Twister. Joel Aylor, of Nez Perce heritage, and a lifelong best friend of Gary Tewalt, was fortunate enough to buy the sturdy appaloosa horse and thus began an amazing relationship for both Aylor and Tewalt.

Twister was "the best horse ever for hunting and packing," said Joel.

Twister offered a surefooted, smart, and well-trained saddle horse for any rider. His even temperament meant that he offered any rider an easy opportunity for leading several pack horses into the mountain wilderness. Then, after the hunt, Twister could be loaded down with game, and he would easily lead the pack train home.

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Over the years, Tewalt and Aylor hunted in more than the Cascade Range. They also enjoyed hunting in the Blue Mountains in Eastern Oregon, near the home of the famous Nez Perce Chief Joseph and his people. That history lived in the hearts of Tewalt and Aylor, and it ran in Twister's blood.

Stories of the Nez Perce and Chief Joseph were a part of the men's lives, and Twister lived as a wonderful part of what made their lives rich and good.

But horses grow old. Eventually, Twister experienced old age and blindness, and had to pass on to the hunting grounds in the sky. Both men greatly felt that loss, and then suddenly one day, not long after Twister's passing, Aylor's beautiful daughter, Lisa, was killed in an automobile accident.

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Soon after these two tragic events, Tewalt was moved to write Twister's poem, honoring Twister as a horse, and in the line about Twister teaching youngsters how to ride, he thought about Lisa and all the wonderful children gentle Twister taught to ride. The poem was unpublished for 40 years, but Gary had a wish to share it with others. Now, at last, you can read the poem, accompanied by brief histories of the Appaloosa horse, Chief Joseph, and the Nez Perce War.

The book was inspired by love, and it is hoped that readers' hearts will be filled with tenderness and respect for Appaloosa horses, the Nez Perce people who developed the breed, and the power of friendship.

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The book is available on for $11.95 and at Paulina Springs Books in Sisters for $10.95.


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