Written by Leah Peterson @ Cooksley’s Clear Creek Farm

In the Northwest corner of this great state, sits the historic Ft. Robinson, Nebraska. Known today as one of the most scenic and beautiful tourist destinations, it also holds a special place in my heart.

By 1943 the herd of horses at Fort Robinson approached 12,000.  (photo: NebraskaHistory.org)
By 1943 the herd of horses at Fort Robinson approached 12,000. (photo: NebraskaHistory.org)

Most Nebraskans know that Ft. Robinson was established way back in 1874, but few realize it was once one of the largest military installations in the northern plains of the United States. Even fewer realize that it was known as a remount station for the Cavalry. In 1943 at the height of WW II, over 12,000 horses were at Ft. Robinson, awaiting training in order to be ready to serve in the War.

My Grandfather, Lieutenant Colonel Leo Cooksley was stationed at Ft. Robinson, and served as post commander there for a short time after WWII. By the end of the war, modern warfare began to eliminate the need for horses to be used in battle. As Ft. Robinson prepared to close her doors as a military post, something had to be done with all those beautiful horses.


Leo Cooksley

I have been fortunate to grow up and live around horses. Those who have done the same can relate when I say that horses are a LOT like people. They have strong personalities, love to play and create mischief, are competitive or laid back, and have the strong ability to read the feelings of those people around them. The love of horses goes way back in this family, and I am grateful to have had them share that love with me.


There are so many breeds and types of horses out there. A horse enthusiast has as many choices available as they desire. Yes, they are an expensive hobby these days…for the day of the American cowboy is beginning to fade.


Fathers DayThankfully there are programs such as 4-H, rodeo, professional show circuits, and hobby riding as a way to keep these beautiful creatures alive in the modern era. Also, Nebraska is blessed with a couple of tremendous horse rescue programs that help find homes for horses that need them.

They are an enormous part of our American history, and I hope you can appreciate them as much as I do. Horses helped me learn confidence and teamwork, as well as served as my inspiration when writing my first children’s book “An Apple for Dapple.” They have blessed my life.


Dapple NTV

Happy Trails!

**EDITOR’S NOTE:  You can purchase Leah’s book “An Apple for Dapple” here through Amazon.

Leah Peterson

Leah Peterson is a native Nebraskan, living on the ranch her ancestors homesteaded in 1878. She and her husband Matt, met at the University of Nebraska Lincoln, and returned to the ranch in 2012 after working and living in Central Nebraska the past 12 years. They are parents to two daughters, Maggie and Lucy. Leah has an undergrad degree from UNL in Communication Studies, and a MA in Leadership from Bellevue University. Aside from her work at the ranch and opportunity to be a stay at home mom, she enjoys writing, photography, community involvement, spending time with friends and family and trying new recipes in her kitchen. Leah published her first children's book in 2011 titled "An Apple for Dapple" and enjoys traveling throughout the state to share her book with children and raise awareness about the importance Agriculture in Nebraska.