the start to this “Cowboy” career came about because my momma and daddy took me,
at about the age of two, over on Harrisburg Road to ride a little horse that walked
around the ring and seemed to take forever. One day, a new boy put me, by mistake,
on a different horse that high-loped around the ring and caused my mother to nearly
faint dead-away -- but, too late. The “damage” had been done! I was ruined; hooked
on the experience. I was a cowboy, in my mind anyway.
Rather on horseback
courtesy Wharton County Historical Museum
| So, from then until
twelve, I rode every horse I could get on and read everything I could about cowboys
and horses. I read all the books by Will James and that, of course, ruined me
more than ever, because now I just had to learn how to ride a “bucking horse”.Now,
there was a horse-trader’s lot just a hop, skip, and jump down the road from our
house; so, naturally, I had to go down and volunteer to ride all of the new horses
he got in trade, and the broncs he got, as well. First thing, you know, I got
to where I thought I could ride anything. How wrong can one be?
I went to a rodeo one Sunday with another horse-breaker and rode my first bucking
horse. I spurred him all about the head and shoulders and the resulting reaction
ruined me more than ever. I was sure-enough hooked now – a bronc rider! I got
on the next nineteen head before I rode another; but, couldn’t wait to do it again.
I quit school and went out “on the rodeo trail” to find fame and fortune. I didn’t
find it, though. I did find out that I was too lazy to work and too scared to
steal; so, I was in kind of a trap for twelve years, but striving to do best at
what I enjoyed most.
Fortunately for me, I met my best friend, Buck, and
his daddy. We traveled together and had a fine time, for a long time. I started
riding bulls, because you didn’t have to spur them and I thought that was a good
thing. Little did I know!
We all entered the big rodeo, in Houston,
and I mistakenly thought I was as good as Harry Tompkins, Jim Shoulders, Buck
Rutherford, and the Robert’s brothers. Huge error!
World of Rodeo’s PRCA
Hall of Fame
Harry Tompkins Dublin, Texas 1960, 1952
Jim Shoulders Henryetta,
Oklahoma 1959, 1958, 1957, 1956, 1949
Buck Rutherford Lenapah, Oklahoma 1954
Gerald Roberts Strong City, Kansas 1948, 1942
I followed them on the circuit to all the
big rodeos and I even placed in a few of them; not nearly enough, though.
We were about to go to Cheyenne one year when I got a letter from my mom informing
me that I had been drafted into the Army; so, I never got to make that trip. I
went to Korea, instead. That’s a heck of a tradeoff, isn’t it? After my return
from military duty, I took a job with a big oil refinery and enrolled into college
to become an engineer. Years later, I got into the steel fabricating business
and was given a chance to entice Buck to work for me. I was still involved with
horses; but then, participating in cutting-horse competitions.Now, Buck was a
pretty good sculptor. He would create bull-riding statues and I would buy them
to give to the champion bull-riders in Houston. We did this for quite a few years.
goes on, and Buck died last year. I’m older than water and I just keep on keeping-on.
I enjoy watching bull-riding events on TV and I wonder just how rank some of those
bulls can get. They’re better than they used to be. In my mind’s eye, though,
I can still visualize sitting on one of them!
© Fred O. Simon,
Shoe Horses, Don't They? August
22, 2012 Guest column
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