Just had a big weekend of learning at the buck out in Laramie, Wyoming that I spoke about last week. I thought it was a rodeo school but it turned out to be a learning experience for me, watching people with knowledge, experience and the skills to transfer that knowledge to the young cowboys and horses involved.
The cowboys were mostly high school and college students, the horses were mostly young horses that had bucked with a dummy but not a rider. The pickup men were a mix of experienced hands riding young horses, and college students learning the trade. I really enjoyed watching the horsemanship and skills of not only keeping the boys safe but how the saddle horses progressed and how they really worked with the bucking horse colts getting them good to approach and pull the flank and get the rider off safely and then to leave the arena safely and quickly. I have always enjoyed watching pickup men as much as anything in the rodeo world, and one winter I picked up at a winter series rodeo in Helena, Montana and it is one thing that I am so glad I got to do it.
The Hamaker family make up the Summit Rodeo Company. They brought the young horses to the university of Wyoming’s arena to buck the young horses. The young cowboys could get on as many as they wanted in the two days. They fed everyone lunch, and everything about the outfit that I could see was positive. They sure helped a lot of young boys and horses with the opportunity to make it in the jump and kick world.
The stockmanship was really enjoyable for me to watch. I helped feed one afternoon and the horses had lots of hay left over from the day before. They were very methodical at getting the young horses to think their way through things. I watched them load a strait deck semi trailer. One person was horseback and one in the trailer. They brought them one at a time, which is very important and unusual for horses, as when one goes they all want to go (like sheep). They created a situation to get the horse to “think” his way on the trailer. By switching sides in the trailer they would “draw” an eye and get them to load head to tail in the trailer. I know the crew had to be tired and hungry but they took the extra time to load them right. From what I saw they helped those young horses so much by taking the time to load them with “feel” rather than just jamming them on the truck. That’s real stockman stuff.
We stayed with Heath and Brittany Ford. Heath is the assistant coach at U of W and really lives to help people. He is a positive guy that tells it like it is. He had me wanting to get on bareback horses again after listening to him! If you know anyone wanting to college rodeo, I would be trying to get to Laramie to check out the program.
We have known Brittany since she was born and it is so great to see such a confident caring young Mom and nurse. They have three young children and it was so fun to spend time with them. They are busy!
I remember several years ago Brittany was in the barrel racing at East Helena. It was a real tough place to get into the arena as you had to go through an alley and make a couple of corners. I felt she was in danger of her horse flipping or hurting her so I stepped in to help her. I could see she was not liking it that I helped and after her Dad told me I shouldn’t have helped as he felt if a barrel racer couldn’t get their horse in on their own they shouldn’t run. I always felt kind of bad because I could see she was nervous about me stepping in. I was worried about her safety, but learned you need to know the situation before you step into help someone. She survived and maybe that’s one of the things that helped her survive working nights and raising three kids!
Sam Petersen is cowboy. He had not been on a bareback horse for six months. He broke his wrist when he bucked of a horse and hung up and drug for a couple of laps around the arena. He had to overcome the fear of that happening again and concentrate on his riding. He did and showed lots of effort and rode real good. He is a sophomore in high school and has lots of athletic ability, thinks himself through pressure and from what I see has lots of try(only he knows how much try he really has). He is polite, has a good work ethic and morals, and listens to some real good music so I enjoy being around him.
There are two words I don’t throw around much. One of those words is “cowboy”. I feel there are lots of cowboys in this world with lots of different styles and personalities. I feel very strongly about keeping cowboy cowboy.
The one common denominator is try. Whether it’s getting on a bucking horse or caring for livestock in tough conditions, if you don’t have try you aren’t much of a cowboy.
I am so glad Sams folks Pete and Tara trusted me enough to attend the school with him. I learned lots and got to be around lots of “cowboys” in the Cowboy State.
The important thing to remember when working with living things is they are either getting better or worse. I think a bunch of horses and cowboys got better in Laramie, Wyoming over the weekend.
The world doesn’t need more cowboys, it needs more good cowboys.