Tony Vagneur: Saddle Sore |

Tony Vagneur: Saddle Sore

Tony VagneurThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO Colorado

“I have a belly, alabaster skin and no ass,” I said as I sat down to sign the model release form last Saturday. “Oh, Tony, you’ll be surprised,” said Anita, showing me paste-up shots of other nude models, mostly women who might make Playboy wonder how it missed such pulchritudinous heartland beauty, women who made me want to be part of the project, even if I did have to take off all my clothes to do so. The inexperienced mind works in odd ways, and in the hours leading up to the nude photo shoot, I wondered what I should wear. It was a western theme and there were horses involved, I knew, but it never occurred to me that I might want to take along some kind of prop to cover up the essence of my maleness – forget the clean shirt and jeans. You can’t be shy about such things, and upon arrival on the set, I doffed my clothes in the grass, retaining only a clean Stetson, a pair of gloves and a bandanna. Oh, yeah, and a smile. I sauntered into the pasture to meet the horse owner, a lovely woman dressed in tight jeans who would look good as Lady Godiva, and who held onto two handsome Friesian geldings. Waiting for the photographer to gear up, we chatted over the back of a horse, talking cattle and horse breeds as though one of us really wasn’t naked. She suggested I also wear my 16-inch tall cowboy boots, which was a lifesaver.There was no script, other than they wanted to get some good shots of me interacting with those two magnificent black beasts and almost immediately, the younger of the horses got stung by a bee or something, and suddenly there I was, a lead rope in each hand, trying to keep these normally gentle giants from hurriedly prancing away and the photographer softly telling me that maybe I should try to cover up, “just a little.” I know what you’re thinking. Lest you think I’m the only male starring in this book, please be advised that there are other curmudgeons of the sort whose names would be immediately recognizable should I reveal them, but I’ve always believed a man’s business is his own and it’s up to him how he wishes to expose himself to the general public. I don’t know if you’ve ever done an outdoor nude photo shoot, but there are some things that don’t get mentioned, not even when they happen. Take a couple of horses, a naked man, a slowly dying sun, the largest population of mosquitoes we’ve had in years and get them all together in the same spot and it’s tough on the two-legged one without a tail. It didn’t bother me that the horses were getting restless and kept circling and rubbing up against me in their not-so-subtle hints that we should give it up for the day. “Just a couple more,” Robert the photog kept saying with a smile (that’s what they always say), and we kept up a running commentary of nonsense between us just to keep our minds off the swirling bugs.I’d like to tell you more, but the book is still in the production stage and to say too much would be jumping the gun. However, if you’ve been a fan of Anita Witt’s recent books about ranching, cowboying and history, you’ll be sure to find this an excellent treatise in a new direction, an expanded, first-class venue. There are still some crusty old cowpokes in this one, but I think the enticing young women will upstage the men by a long shot. The horses aren’t bad, either.What can you say? Upon leaving, I told the delightful horse owner (and her good-natured husband), who made us all feel incredibly welcome and at ease that, “it was nice getting naked with you.” I’ll keep you posted on how this all turns out.

Tony Vagneur writes here on Saturdays and is taking comments of a serious nature at

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