Bill Smith redefined the image of America’s iconic cowboy. Determined to escape a miner’s life in Montana, he went down the road as a professional rodeo cowboy in 1960 and became, over twenty years, one of the greatest bronc riders of all time. But when he retired at the age of 40, at the top of his game, Smith still had a lifetime ahead of him. With the help of master horsemen Tom Dorrance and Ray Hunt, Smith learned a new way to ride--and a new way to love and live. Original, inspiring, and quietly moving, Horses That Buck is the portrait of a modern man who has helped shape the new American West.


Available in print from OU and your local bookstore.

The audiobook, narrated by Wilford Brimley, is now available from Librofm and Audible

"The most beautifully written rodeo or human story I have ever read."          – Larry Mahan, six-time World Champion All-Around Cowboy


Winner of the High Plains Book Award & a New West Best Book of the Year

A lifetime of great rides unfolds in Margot Kahn’s new book, Horses That Buck: The Story of Champion Bronc Rider Bill Smith. Despite the title, don’t expect just another rodeo story from this read. When you ride with Kahn, as she uncoils 'the story of a man, a life and a period in the American West,' she draws us into the meaning of life from a fresh perspective. A well-researched introspection offers an honest and intriguing look into the culture of Western rodeo as it developed along the timeline of Bill Smith’s life. – BIG SKY JOURNAL

For the rodeo tales alone, Horses That Buck is a must-have. Inducted into the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame in 1979 and the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum’s Rodeo Hall of Fame in 2000, Smith’s accomplishments in several facets of the horse industry are worthy of being celebrated. For those who’ve witnessed his abilities firsthand, Kahn's biography provides a great account of how a broke young boy went from sneaking into rodeos to accepting gold buckles on the sport’s biggest stage. – THE WESTERN HORSEMAN

Kahn has done an outstanding job of recreating the rural life of Montana and Wyoming, cowboying and ranching. In an opening description of her subject she writes, 'People need animals, he thinks, to keep them human.' Bill Smith is human so deeply he knows a language that speaks to horses, one that most everyone else has forgotten. – MONTANA QUARTERLY

Kahn writes beautifully of the history of rodeo. You don't want to miss this truly inspiring story. – THE BILLINGS GAZETTE

A captivating portrait of a man who truly embodied the spirit of the western frontier long after the west was won. – THE MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW

A marvelously told biography of Bill Smith, the Montana native who became a long-running champion rodeo bronc rider. (Kahn's) meticulous effort pays real dividends. – THE SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER

The Write Question, Montana Public Radio

SeattleWrote / October 25, 2011 


"In Margot Kahn’s carefully rendered and lovingly told biography of Bill Smith, we find the story of how a talented and determined man forges himself into a champion, both inside the arena and out. Horses That Buck is about family and freedom and, ultimately, how they braid themselves together in the human heart."  – Mark Spragg, author of Where Rivers Change Direction