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Popular Books & Essays

Throughout his life, Richard D. Alexander maintained a strong connection to his roots– to farm life; to his mother and father and their people; to his childhood town (Sangamon Township), county (Piatt), and state (Illinois); to the people who influenced, inspired, or just amused him; and to the colorful characters he encountered during his career. Among his favorite pastimes were walking, constructing walking sticks (he made hundreds), collecting vintage toys, listening to and playing music (especially what we would now refer to as “old-timey” and bluegrass), and caring for the animals in his homestead and farm. His favorite animal was the horse. Parallel to his academic career but only occasionally intersecting with it, ran his interest in understanding horse psychology and behavior, and following from this the proper way to train, ride, and keep horses. For much of RDA’s career he cared for and observed two herds of horses on his property in Freedom Township, Washtenaw County, Michigan.

RDA’s lifelong love was Lorrie Alexander, his wife of over six decades and the mother of their two daughters.

RDA wrote about all of these people, interests, and experiences. How should we represent these writings? “Popular” seems to suggest an audience that RDA never identified, and probably would never have identified. “Nonprofessional” is a negative indication presuming a primary focus on “professional” interests, a bias RDA himself would never have endorsed. “Folk” seems to pigeonhole his writings into a nostalgic Americana box, whereas RDA was attempting simply to represent his experience and interests– whether they qualified as “folksy” or not was irrelevant. Thus here they are represented as simply “Personal”, meaning that they emerged from, as RDA would say, his lifetime, his own particular developmental process, beginning to end. The criticism RDA would give to this label is probably that it seems too self-aggrandizing, and that in reality he hoped to connect to others with or without an overlap with his experience. His main impetus was to share.  To this we can say, fair enough, but these stories, thoughts, and lessons come out of your experience, and thus we will call this category of writings personal.


1969. Excerpts from an Australian Journal. xiv + 495 pp. [Unpublished, distributed privately. Revised as White Man’s Fire (2016), see below.]

1975. Pop: 111 Stories about My Father. 139 pp., 19 drawings. [Unpublished, distributed privately. Revised as Pop’s Story (2005), see below.]

1977. The Clarksburg Cat, and Other Things That Happened along the Way: 41 Stories and Verses. 141 pp. [Unpublished, distributed privately.]

1979. A Part of the Hunting: 66 Verses written between 1949 and 1979. vii + 102 pp. [Unpublished, distributed privately.]

[PDF] 1988. Moving my family to Michigan. 9 pp. [Unpublished, originally intended for Notes on the Faculty; written in August 1988, revised in the 2010s].

[PDF] 1991. Mom’s Story. The Life of Katharine Elizabeth Heath Alexander Stutzenstein (edited).128 pp., 101 photographs, 2 maps, 1 drawing. Manchester, MI: Woodlane Farm Books [compiled and edited by RDA– text is mostly from Katharine’s perspective, originating in interviews by RDA]. In 1991 and 1992, RDA created two lists of errata: here.

1993. A growing-up summer. [Unpublished], 2 January.

[PDF] 1994. How to ride young horses trained by Dick Alexander. [Unpublished, often sent as a letter or given as a handout when he sold a horse.]

1997. Playin’ Cowboy: 71 Verses, Songs, Stories, and Sketches. 160 pp. [Unpublished, distributed privately. Expanded and published in 2006 under a similar title, see below.]

1998. Dick Alexander’s Song Book I. 500+ Songs I Have Known and Sung: 1948-1998. 556 pp. [Unpublished, distributed privately.]

1998. Dick Alexander’s Song Book. II. 200+ Songs from Old and Out-of-Print Books. 426 pp. [Unpublished, distributed privately.]

1998. Dick Alexander’s Song Book III. 88 Songs and Verses I Have Written, Modified, or Discovered, and Saved. 1951-1998. 258 pp. [Unpublished, distributed privately.]

1998. The Harley Davidson reining horse. Poem and drawing. National Reining Horse Association Reiner, February 1996, p. 115.

[PDF] 2000. An old-time vetManchester Enterprise, July 6, pp. 4,10.

2001. Letter to the editor on imprinting of foalsThe Horse. 

[PDF] 2001. Club 48: A Personal Account of Blackburn College and the Men of Butler Basement. 1946-48. Manchester, MI: Woodlane Farm Books, 128 pp., 51 photographs.

[PDF] 2001. Teaching Yourself to Train Your Horse. Manchester, MI: Woodlane Farm Books, xiv + 276 pp., 334 color photographs by Andrew F. Richards, 3 color diagrams, three appendices, bibliography.
[In 2002 RDA posted a list of (minor) errata: here.]

Essays on Horses and Horse Training:
[The essays in this informal series were conceived as supplements to his 2001 book Teaching Yourself to Train Your Horse. Each was either posted on or intended for the (now defunct) Woodlane Farm website.]

[PDF] 2001. Keeping the young horse’s trust while riding.
[PDF] [Reprinted in a Finnish translation in Western Riders Finland, v.2/2002, transl. Juha Leppänen, pp. 26-27. This PDF contains the entire issue].

[PDF] 2002. Understanding rewards and punishment in horse training.

[PDF] 2002. Targeting, clicker-bridging, and positive and negative aspects of horse training. (Richard D. Alexander and Cynthia Kagarise Sherman).

[PDF] 2002. Four ways of training (Richard D. Alexander and Cynthia Kagarise Sherman). [Includes an introduction to Cindy].

[PDF] 2002. Two seconds a day can gentle your horse.

[PDF] 2002. Holding on with upper legs.

[PDF] 2002. Long latigos.

[PDF] 2002. On using ropes to lift a young horse’s legs and questions about secure tying.

[PDF] 2002. An accidentally omitted reference on advanced riding.

[PDF] 2003. On bits and biting.  [published by Gala Nettles in her column in Quarter Horse News, 15 October 2003, pp.94-95.]

[PDF] 2004. A note on haltering.

[PDF] 2004. Give your horse a break.

[PDF] 2004. On being too tentative.

2003. The old German horse farmer of Freedom Township. Poem. Manchester Enterprise, Manchester, MI. Thursday 12 April 2003, p.9A.

[PDF] 2004. The Red Fox and Johnny Valentine’s Blue-Speckled Hound. 93 pp., 21 watercolors by John Megahan, numerous pencil sketches of red foxes by William Berry. Woodlane Farm Press.

[PDF] 2005. Pop’s Story: A Midwestern Farm Boy’s Memories of Times with His Father. 162 pp. Manchester, MI: Woodlane Farm Books.

[PDF] 2006. Looking back: Ann Arbor balersManchester Enterprise, Manchester, MI. Thursday 12 October. p.2B.

2006. Looking back: The last threshing run in Piatt County, IllinoisManchester Enterprise, Manchester, MI. Thursday 28 September. p.3B. Photographs by Mark O’Brien.

2006. Playin’ Cowboy. 320 pp. Manchester, MI: Woodlane Farm Books.

2007. My sixty-year friendship with Carl Walter Campbell. 15 pp. Unpublished ms.

[PDF] 2007. Toy collection of Richard D. Alexander89 pp. Unpublished ms. [A catalogue of ~675 + toys, manufactured mostly between 1930-1950, by 51 manufacturers from ~20 countries; followed by a retrospective autobiographical “Postscript” (pp.81-82), and notes for a lecture entitled “The Joys of Old Toys” (pp.83-89).]

2007? Op Ed on evolution and creationismAnn Arbor News.

2008. Reply to __ re creationism and evolutionAnn Arbor News 2008.

[PDF] 2009. Thumping On Trees. 43 pp. 3 stories. Illustrations by John Megahan. Manchester, MI: Woodlane Farm Books.

[PDF] 2011. The Mockingbird’s River Song: Poems, Essays, Songs & Stories, 1946-2011. xiii+313 pp. Manchester, MI: Woodlane Farm Books.

[PDF] 2012 [unfinished]. Special Babies & Their Parents: Calves, Colts, Kids, and Others. [This is a portion of a proposed book, containing examples of observations of animal babies by RDA and Megan Young, with an addendum about the distinctiveness of the human baby.]

[PDF] 2015. Notes On The Faculty- Including, of Course, a Few Curious Examples. ix+174 pp. Manchester, MI: Woodlane Farm Books.

[PDF] 2015. Stealing Watermelons: Tales from Sangamon Township. iv+245 pp. Manchester, MI: Woodlane Farm Books.

[PDF] 2016. White Man’s Fire: Tales Of Two Cricket Hunters in Australia, 1968-1969209 pp. Illustrations and photographs by Daniel Otte. Manchester, MI: Woodlane Farm Books.

Of ladybugs and their betters. Poem. The Wanderer.

Letter to Ann Arbor News re Bridgewater Bank Tavern (quoted).

Letter to columnist in Quarter Horse News re horse bridle bits (included in the column).

The move. [Unpublished], 2pp.



This website was launched in June 2010 and is a work in progress.

In addition to RDA of course, thanks to Lorrie Alexander, John Cooley, Daniel Otte, Eckart Voland, Mary Jane West-Eberhard, and especially Nancy Alexander for providing a few hard-to-find writings. Thanks to Michelle Mordukhaev for contributing to the scanning and posting. Thanks to Nancy Alexander and Lorrie Alexander for guidance and permission.

For more information or to become involved, contact David Lahti at dclahti@gmail.com.

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