Smoky the Cowhorse is one of the most famous and beloved horse stories told. Will James writes in 1920s cowboy vernacular and tells the life of the horse Smoky in the Western United States from his birth to eventual return to his home range. Smoky is born in the wild, captured, and trained by Clint and becomes known as the best cow horse. Then a horse thief steals Smoky and beats him repeatedly. Smoky eventually attacks and escapes from the abusive thief. When Smoky is eventually captured, his new violent demeanor results in him being used as a bucking bronco in rodeos as “The Cougar”. Years of bucking take their toll. “The Cougar” becomes “Cloudy” the riding horse, and eventually he is sold to an abusive man who starves him. It would be the end, but Clint happens to find him. With careful treatment, Smoky recovers while back on his home range.
Smoky the Cowhorse won the 1927 Newbery Award and was adapted to the screen three times as Smoky.