Archive for April, 2011

postheadericon Cowboys will test skills in Classic Events Championship

GUYMON, Okla. – Ty Atchison is a rising star in rodeo, one of the top saddle bronc riders in the game.

He’s also the reigning title-holder of the Classic Events Championship, which had its inaugural run last spring. Atchison will try to defend his title starting at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 5, at Henry C. Hitch Pioneer Arena when he faces 20 other athletes in riding broncs and roping steers in the unique competition that tests the mettle of outstanding all-around cowboys.

“This is a great deal, and I’m excited to win it,” Atchison said last year.

The format is the brain child of Rick Furnish, the Hitch Ranch manager and owner of Bob’s Cowboy Bar & Rodeo Room.

“Steer roping and bronc riding are the two oldest events in rodeo, but there are timed-event guys and riding-event guys,” Furnish said. “You’ve never had a crossover where you had to rope so many and you had to ride so many in order to be the champion.”

The Classic Events Championship is part of Pioneer Days, the annual Guymon celebration. The competition will serve as a kickoff for the Pioneer Days Rodeo, which has four performances that take place at 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 6; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 7; and 2 p.m. Sunday, May 3. In fact, most of the Classic Events competitors will stick around and be part of the rodeo.

“There’s been a lot of talk about the Classic Events Championship in the last year, and we’re glad that it’s part of the great rodeo competition in Guymon,” said Jim Quimby, chairman of the volunteer committee that produces the annual rodeo. “We know this is the kind of event our fans will love to watch. It’s about being a great cowboy, and we have a lot of those around here.”

The concept is simple. Each contestant will rope and tie down two steers, a timed event where the fastest run wins. They will also ride two broncs, one a young colt and the other a seasoned bucking horse. There will be round winners and an aggregate in both events, and the overall winner will be based on how well they do both.

The field will feature numerous saddle bronc riding qualifiers to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, like world champion Taos Muncy. But it will also feature outstanding all-round cowboys like Cody Taton, who won the NFR average in 2008, and Trell Etbauer, who has won each of the last three Linderman Awards, given to the contestant who best excels in both timed events and roughstock events.

“In my opinion, we don’t have a true all-around champion,” Furnish said. “I’ve known Trevor Brazile his whole life, and he’s the best roper I’ve ever seen. But he’s not the all-around champion cowboy, not until he can ride a bucking horse or bull.

“You can be the best roper in the world and the best rider, but you can’t be the all-around champion until you can do things at both ends of the arena.”

Brazile owns the record for most all-around world championships in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association with eight. But he’s strictly a timed-event cowboy, which opens the door to the top bronc riders in the game.

“I think it’ll be fun,” Etbauer said. “I’ll be here at the house anyway. Back in the day, everybody worked both ends of the arena, and now there aren’t very many people who do it.”

They will also compete in two go-rounds in each event – and they must make four attempts at competing in order to be eligible for the financial gains.

“If a guy wins the steer roping and doesn’t ride both broncs, then he doesn’t win anything,” Furnish said.

The field is chalk full of contestants who were part of the rodeo program at Oklahoma Panhandle State University, which is well known for its bronc riding legacy. Of the 21 contestants, 12 went to the Goodwell, Okla., college.

While Atchison won the event last spring, there was plenty of firepower in the average winners: six-time world champion Dan Mortensen and Cort Scheer. Mortensen came out of retirement to take part in the inaugural competition, and Scheer earned his first trip to the NFR last December. Just a month ago, he won $88,000 at RodeoHouston.

“It dang sure is a good time,” Scheer said. “I’ll keep going as long as they keep having it.”

2011 Classic Events Championship Contestants
Jordan Furnish
Will Payne
Leland Wood
Luke Butterfield
Jesse Bail
Taos Muncy
Cody Taton
Matt Hebbert
Travis Sheets
Mike Outhier
Trell Etbauer
Ty Atchinson
Cort Scheer
Jesse James Kirby
Bobby Griswold
Seth Schafer
Josh Reynolds
Shank Stephens
Cody Parks
Ryan Montroy
Casey Sisk

postheadericon Pioneer Days Rodeo will be the home of Carr’s top bulls

GUYMON, Okla. – The list of bull riders at the 2011 Guymon Pioneer Days Rodeo is like a who’s who of the top bull riders in ProRodeo.

World champions and other Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifiers will be mixed with up-and-coming rising stars in the game, men who are chasing their dreams to walk away from the season with world champion’s hardware. That’s the Guymon Pioneer Days Rodeo.

It’s where they’ll match their skills against some of the greatest bulls in the game during the four performances, set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 6; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 7; and 2 p.m. Sunday, May 8.

“My bull herd’s come around in the last year or two,” said Pete Carr, whose Carr Pro Rodeo is the primary stock contractor in Guymon for the fourth straight year. “Kickapoo Warrior is bull I have that I think will be really good. Blues Man is probably my rankest young bull. In Guymon, I’ll also have Charlie’s Bandito, Fletch and, of course, Black Gold.”

Black Gold is a money-maker for cowboys. In 2009, he led Corey Navarre of Weatherford, Okla., to an NFR round win and a check for more than $17,000. Last December, Clayton Williams of Carthage, Texas, matched moves with the 7-year-old beast for 87 points, good enough for third place in the sixth go-round and $10,451 – Williams also rode Black Gold at RodeoHouston in 2010, scoring 91 points.

“He turns back in the gate every time, and when the rider falls off, he just stops and walks out,” Carr said. “He knows his job and likes it. Black Gold bucks hard every time. He’s been pretty consistent, which is what you want in a bull like that.”

Just a month ago, Tater Hins of Huron, S.D., won the second go-round at the Dodge National Circuit Finals Rodeo with an 84 on Black Gold. He won $4,525. Hins finished fourth in money won at the DNCFR with $6,170. Carr also had Charlie’s Bandito in Oklahoma City, and the bull was unridden.

“I got on one of Pete’s bulls last year at Guymon, and I should’ve ridden it,” said Nathan Klassen, a former Prairie Circuit champion from Broken Arrow, Okla. “What I’ve seen look good. You couldn’t ask for a better one than I got on last year.”

A number of the top cowboys have seen the work Carr has done to improve his heard, and they like what they see. Throw in that Carr has solicited help from other contractors to produce the Guymon event, and you can see the commitment to providing fans with the best bucking action in the sport – Korkow Rodeo Co., D&H Cattle Co., Powder River Rodeo Co. and Frontier Rodeo Co. will also be on hand with their animal athletes.

“The great thing about Pete is that he went out and bought some new bulls,” said three-time and reigning world champion J.W. Harris of Mullin, Texas. “He’s actually trying to get a better bull herd, which is more than you can say for a lot of stock contractors.”

Has Carr learned a few things over the last few years?

“I don’t know if I’ve learned any more about the bulls over the year, but I think there are lots of bulls out there,” Carr said. “The market is more saturated with high quality bulls, and we’ve had an emphasis on futurity bulls and bloodlines. There are a lot better bulls available for me.”

postheadericon Bronc Riding Capital ready for Carr Pro Rodeo broncs

GUYMON, Okla. – Folks in this neck of the woods love to see one of their own do well at the Guymon Pioneer Days Rodeo, especially in saddle bronc riding.

Josh Reynolds

Josh Reynolds

That’s what they got a year ago when Oklahoma Panhandle State University rodeo team alumnus Josh Reynolds won their hometown event last May, matching moves with the Carr Pro Rodeo bronc Simple Man for 86 points to collect the Guymon title for the first time in his career.

“I’m glad to win it here,” said Reynolds of Ekalaka, Mont. “That’s just a good horse.”

That’s true. But Simple Man is just one of many great animals that will be part of this year’s Pioneer Days Rodeo, set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 6; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 7; and 2 p.m. Sunday, May 8. It’s what the fans expect, and it’s what the firm’s owner, Pete Carr, will bring to town when he brings some of the greatest bucking livestock in the business to town. Not only that, but Carr is soliciting additional top-caliber livestock from Korkow Rodeo, Powder River Rodeo Co., D&H Cattle Co., and Frontier Rodeo Co.

“Pete has always been phenomenal to work with,” said Jim Quimby, chairman of the volunteer rodeo committee that produces the annual event. “He’s a professional to work with, and he has outstanding bucking horses and bulls.”

That’s a glowing endorsement from Texas County, Okla., the Saddle Bronc Riding Capital of the World. Over the years, nine Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association world championships have been won by bronc riders with ties to the region – Robert Etbauer (2), Billy Etbauer (5), Tom Reeves, Jeffrey Willert and Taos Muncy; all but Billy Etbauer competed in college rodeo at nearby Oklahoma Panhandle State University.

“Pete does a great job of getting us horses we can win on,” said Muncy, a Panhandle State rodeo team alumnus who won the college and PRCA championships in 2007. “He’s got a bunch of great horses. We do what we can to make sure we go to Pete’s rodeos.”

Of course, returning to Guymon is like returning home for the Corona, N.M., cowboy. Four seasons ago when he won gold, his Pioneer Days Rodeo victory was one of the big reasons why.

“That’s always a good rodeo,” Muncy said. “There will be a lot of great horses there.”

One of those will be True Lies, a horse that was selected to buck at the 2010 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in December and the 2011 Dodge National Circuit Finals Rodeo a month ago. The 9-year-old bay gelding already has had an outstanding career.

“True Lies was really good at the Dodge Finals,” Carr said. “Blue Smoke was phenomenal the other day when I bucked him. Empty Pockets is a bronc I’ve got high hopes for. He bucked at Snyder (Texas) the other day. That horse was outstanding.

“Last year they won on Simple Man, and he’ll be back in Guymon again this year.”

So will young guns Private Party and Rising Sun, which, Carr said, have been performing well. But he’s got some stalwarts in Air Miles and Miss Congeniality, both of which bucked at the 2010 NFR.

“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” said Cort Scheer, a Panhandle State graduate and Guymon resident who qualified for the NFR for the first time last December. “You dang sure know Pete’s going to have plenty of good horses for us to get on.”

postheadericon Etbauers helping rodeo grow in the Oklahoma Panhandle

GUYMON, Okla. – Over the years, the Guymon Pioneer Days Rodeo has been the champions’ playground.

The champion-laden Etbauer family has shined as brightly as anyone inside Henry C. Hitch Pioneer Arena, host of the annual festivities that are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 6; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 7; and 2 p.m. Sunday, May 8. Over the last 20 years, the Etbauers have won eight world championships and dozens of other honors.

Dan Etbauer teaches at a New Zealand bronc riding school in 2007. Dan, Robert and Billy Etbauer have been a big part of the success of the Guymon (Okla.) Pioneer Days Rodeo, now in its 79th year.

Dan Etbauer teaches at a New Zealand bronc riding school in 2007. Dan, Robert and Billy Etbauer have been a big part of the success of the Guymon (Okla.) Pioneer Days Rodeo, now in its 79th year.

“The Guymon Pioneer Days Rodeo, which is in its 79th year, made a big leap forward when the Etbauers got involved here,” said Ken Stonecipher, the rodeo’s production manager. “You know how it is when you get a couple cool kids to come to your party, then all the other kids want to come? That’s how it was with the Etbauers, and that’s how it still is.”

Originally from Ree Heights, S.D., Robert, Billy and Dan Etbauer were drawn to Oklahoma via rodeo. Robert, the oldest, led the parade to No Man’s Land in the mid-1980s to attend Oklahoma Panhandle State University in neighboring Goodwell. Dan followed suit and competed on the college’s rodeo team. Billy didn’t take traditional classes, opting, instead, for the lessons of the rodeo trail.

Texas County was base camp for the brothers and their longtime traveling partner, Craig Latham. They made names for themselves and, in a sense, put Goodwell on the ProRodeo map. Their popularity developed when the four began qualifying for the National Finals Rodeo in the late 1980s. It grew when Robert won back-to-back saddle bronc riding world titles. It grew again when Billy the first of his five gold buckles.

It continued to blossom through the decade; so did a rivalry with fellow bronc rider Dan Mortensen. In fact, only two last names won saddle bronc riding championships from 1990-2000 – Robert, 1990-91; Billy, 1992, 1996, 1999, 2000 (he added another title in 2004); and Mortensen the other years.

“That era was good for rodeo,” said saddle bronc rider Bobby Griswold of Geary, Okla., a four-time NFR qualifier. “Fans that just somewhat followed rodeo knew who the Etbauers were.”

The Etbauer brothers built on that, and, with Latham, they signed the first “team” sponsorship with Express Ranches of Yukon, Okla. That made them even more identifiable to fans.

“They were the first three brothers to make it to the finals, and they did it for nine years in a row,” Stonecipher said. “What was more unique was how good guys they were, traveling together. The content of their character helped their popularity grow. The defining deal was how they helped each other. Of course, we probably wouldn’t know any of that if they didn’t ride bucking horses so good.”

That eloquent athleticism and fame became a boon for the Pioneer Days Rodeo. Living on ranches near Goodwell, Robert and Dan have been associated with the volunteer committee that produces the annual rodeo. In fact, Robert reached out to sponsors and other contestants to put his hometown rodeo on the map in the early 1990s; it has been growing ever since.

“It was through Robert’s leadership that we went from a little, no-name rodeo to national prominence,” said Melyn Johnson, director of Main Street Guymon and a longtime community supporter. “I don’t mean because of his riding ability but his leadership on the rodeo committee. I don’t think that precedence had been matched for a world champion to be involved with their local rodeo, a standard he set.”

The brothers have been instrumental in training other generations of bronc riders. They help teach up-and-coming cowboys annually at the Deke Latham Memorial Bronc Riding School and have helped numerous contestants get their start in the game.

Robert and Dan retired more than a decade ago, but Billy is still riding strong at 48 years old. In fact, he didn’t qualify for the 2010 NFR, the first time in since 1989 he wasn’t part of ProRodeo’s championship event. Still, most of the elite bronc riders in the sport list Billy Etbauer as their rodeo idol, and they have a difficult time beating him, even though he’s more than twice the age of most.

Of course, they’re not the only champions in the family. Dan’s wife, Kasey, won the 2009 heeling world championship in the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association. Billy’s wife, Hollie, is a professional barrel racer who finished among the top 50 in 2010.

Robert’s oldest son, Trell, is an all-around champion who competes in bronc riding, tie-down roping and steer wrestling. He won the college steer wrestling title as a freshman at Panhandle State in 2005, then later that year won his first all-around championship in the Prairie Circuit, the ProRodeo region consisting of athletes and events primarily from Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. Even bigger is that he is the first cowboy to win the prestigious Linderman Award his first three years in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.

“When you look at Trell, you can’t get a better cowboy than that,” Griswold said. “You can see how he rides broncs, but then you see how good he is in the timed events, he is a true all-around cowboy.”

Certainly being a cowboy is important in rodeo, but also it’s an important way of life in the Oklahoma Panhandle. The region calls for it, with sandy, dry terrain and livestock dotting the miles. But being a cowboy means more than riding horses and wrangling cattle. It means passing along the traits and talents to the next generation.

“The great thing about being around those guys is that they’re so good at teaching,” Stonecipher said. “I’ve seen it with my own kids when we’re roping with them, and I’ve seen it with the young guys at the bronc school. The Etbauers have a good touch with teaching, especially with the young kids. It’s a rare gift to have.”

postheadericon Claremore couple bringing the world of video to rodeo

CLAREMORE, Okla. – Dawn and David Petty weren’t really that interested in getting into the rodeo scoreboard business.

“Originally we got into it because we were trying to get a scoreboard for the Will Rogers Stampede,” said Dawn Petty, a third-generation member of the volunteer committee that produces the Claremore rodeo. “It just turned into David jumping in and buying one, and with our understanding as a rodeo committee, the need to have this and at an affordable rate, we found our way into the scoreboard business.”

“We know how difficult it is to come up with the sponsorship money to put on the rodeo year after year, but we also think having a scoreboard is necessary in this day and age. We’re able to offer our services to other rodeo committees at a reasonable price.”

But the payoff comes every Memorial Day weekend when the Pettys join other volunteers in producing one of the biggest events to hit Rogers County each year – David is the rodeo’s chairman, and Dawn is the scoreboard operator .

This year the Pettys are providing another dimension to fans that are itching for more visual input from an already outstanding show – a giant video board, which will be put on display during each of the three performance set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 27-Sunday, May, 29.

“We have a complete timing system and two professional video cameras,” David Petty said. “This is about more than rodeo, but rodeo is the backbone of what we do. The video gives fans instant replays and clips, and it gives sponsors a way to send their message with commercials. It’s something you want to see.”

Combined with the action of the Will Rogers Stampede, there’s a lot packed into a weekend of rodeo.

“Working this rodeo means the world to me,” Dawn Petty said. “Claremore is my hometown, and both sides of my family were born and raised in Rogers County. For David and I to be on the road as much as we are, we count on our family a lot. I love that we can have the video board here for our family and friends to see. I think when they see it at this year’s rodeo, they’re really going to love it.”

The Pettys have had an LED board for several years, and for 2011, they upgraded to the video board. They still provide the LED board for those rodeos that wish to use it, but they expanded to the video screen in an effort to compete in a tough market. It also allows the Pettys to team with local businesses to have a family movie night.

“We can show a highlight reel of what had happened previously, and if a committee wants to show highlight clips from other special events they do, we’re able to help with that,” Dawn Petty said. “There’s a lot to learn with a new video board because it can just do so much more, and we can also provide our committees a lot more with video and instant replay.”

The Pettys work about 24 rodeos a year, including the Will Rogers Stampede, where both are heavily involved in the production of the annual event. They do it because they love the sport, something each has been associated with almost all of their lives.

“It’s year-round, and we enjoy it,” she said. “We love the people. It’s like a giant extended family everywhere you go.”

That family is growing, and so is its fan base. Rodeo’s quality family fun has existed for years, but the Pettys are tapping into ways to improve on the overall entertainment value with the video board.

“The board brings so much more to the rodeo,” Dawn Petty said. “It’s great for the people who aren’t everyday rodeo people, who might not know all the stars in our game. The scoreboard is able to connect the fans with the contestants when they can look at that profile and learn more about that athlete and watch the replay of the great animal athletes as well, it just helps put folks on the edge of their seats”

postheadericon It’s just the cowboy way

I don’t watch much realty television. In fact, I’d never watched “The Amazing Race” before the Feb. 14, 2010, episode, the first for Season 16 of the CBS-TV reality series.

That was the first time Jet and Cord McCoy appeared on the nationally televised program. They’ve been friends for the past decade; not only are they wonderfully talented cowboys, but also they’re great men who come from an outstanding family.

I’ve enjoyed watching them compete two straight springs as they faced challenges in the race around the world for the $1 million first-place prize. I’ve also been flustered at circumstances and disappointed when they didn’t win – they were eliminated from Season 18 after running the ninth leg on Easter Sunday, less than a year after finished second in the 12-week series the first time they competed in it.

My disappointment Sunday night wasn’t any different than the feelings I have when Cord is bucked off at a Professional Bull Riders event. It was just compounded by two months of commitment instead of eight-second increments.

Globetrotters “Flight Time” and “Big Easy” aren’t the bad guys in the McCoys’ elimination from the show; they knew a wrong turn on their part might lead to their own elimination, so they needed as much of an advantage as they could get.

But even in defeat, the cowboys handled each step of the race with integrity. They ran the race all of us would be proud to run, and they carried the banner of Team McCoy proudly throughout. They’re one of the most popular teams ever to take part in “The Amazing Race,” and their work ethic, values and fortitude are just some of the reasons why.

I’m very proud of Jet and Cord McCoy; millions of other people are, too.

postheadericon Cowboys’ Amazing run on the race comes to an end

Cowboy brothers Jet, left, and Cord McCoy carry bundles of hay through the narrow, crowded streets of Varanasi, India, during the April 3 episode of "The Amazing Race: Unfinished Business." The brothers were eliminated from the CBS-TV reality series Sunday, April 24. Photo: CBS ©2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc.

Cowboy brothers Jet, left, and Cord McCoy carry bundles of hay through the narrow, crowded streets of Varanasi, India, during the April 3 episode of "The Amazing Race: Unfinished Business." The brothers were eliminated from the CBS-TV reality series Sunday, April 24. Photo: CBS ©2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc.

The Western music to close the ninth episode of “The Amazing Race: Unfinished Business” was a fitting goodbye for cowboys Jet and Cord McCoy.

For the third straight leg of the race around the world for $1 million, the brothers from southeastern Oklahoma found themselves in last place. This time they couldn’t catch up to the pack of five other teams and were eliminated from the race with just three episodes remaining.

“I still think we’ve got a target on our backs,” Cord said early in the CBS-TV show that aired Sunday night.

He was right. Throughout the show, four of the five other teams worked together to advance.

“I don’t know if we’re outcasts, but there hasn’t been anybody want to buddy up with us,” Jet said.

The teams left Austria for Liechtenstein, and the McCoys left the train at Schaanwald in first place heading to the “road block.” That’s where the trouble set in. A member of each team had to use a motorized bicycle and measure the length of Liechtenstein, one of the smallest countries in the world. Handling the task for the cowboys, Jet took off on the 22-kilometer trek.

“I feel like ‘Dumb and Dumber,’ ” he said, referring to the mini-bike scene from the 1994 film starring Jeff Daniels and Jim Carrey. “I’m just going to keep this hog wound out. Lord willing, when I get down there, I’ll have the right measurements.”

But Jet made a wrong turn. Gary Ervin caught up with Jet, and the two traveled together before Jet decided against waiting on his opponent and bolted ahead – that might’ve been the costliest error. As best friend Justin Kanew (with Zev Glassenberg) helped sister Jennifer Hoffman (with LaKisha), who both helped Globetrotter Herb Lang (with Nate Lofton), who helped Ervin (with his daughter, Mallory), Jet failed to provide the correct answer at the end of the challenge.

That meant returning 22 km to the starting spot and re-running that aspect of the race. That also meant the McCoys were well behind the pack heading to Zermatt, Switzerland.

“You don’t want to have to run head up with the cowboys,” Lofton said. “They’re fast; they’re smart; they’re a quick team.”

In Zermatt, teams faced the detour, either sharing a heaping pot of cheese fondue or traveling on foot while delivering 20 pieces of luggage to five hotels. All but Kanew and Glassenburg carried the luggage; it paid off for the best friends, who won their fourth leg of the race.

Still, there was plenty of excitement, just as the reality series has held as the final racers come to the mat for each “pit stop.” By the time the cowboys reached Zermatt, they had to hustle to have any chance to catch up to the field. The “cliffhanger” portion of the episode showed the Globetrotters losing two of the 20 luggage tickets, allowing the McCoys to seemingly catch up. As Lang and Lofton worked their way to the finish line, only one interruption awaited them, a “double U-turn,” something the other four teams passed.

But knowing any mistake could allow the cowboys to beat the Globetrotters to the “pit stop” and continue the race, the Globetrotters decided to U-turn the cowboys.

“It was tough U-turning Jet and Cord,” Lang said. “They’re actually one of my favorite teams ever. But it’s down to the end, and it’s either us or them, and we know that they’re behind us.”

That didn’t sit well with the McCoys, nor most of their fans, as proven on message boards Sunday night just a few minutes after their fate was decided.

“It’s the double U-turn, and we’re the only ones that got U-turned,” Jet said “It doesn’t say a lot about them, I don’t think, but maybe they thought they were U-turning their strongest competition.

When host Phil Keoghan told the brothers they were done racing, the McCoys already had a good idea. Keoghan then asked about the leg.

“Totally my fault, really,” Jet said.

But Keoghan asked Cord if he felt the same way, to which the youngest of five children raised on a ranch near Tupelo, Okla., shook his head “no.”

“We’re a team,” Cord said. “I took off the first step with him. And I’m standing here on the last mat with him. I’m his teammate, and I’ll stick with him until the end.”

The brothers, who are just 13 months apart, spent a good portion of their lives traveling the rodeo circuit together, first as youth progressing through the ranks, and then chasing their gold buckle dreams across North America. Now with families of their own, they still live within half an hour of one another.

“We went to some new places this time, and I got to see it with my brother,” Jet said. “There’s nobody else I’d rather be traveling around the country with.”

Well …

“Maybe my wife,” he said, somewhat joking.

“I don’t blame ya,” Cord replied.

The cowboys lasted nine legs this run and have been fan favorites for two of the 18 seasons of “The Amazing Race.” They battled through each challenge with grace and showed the world what being a cowboy is really about.

“I know they hit the nail on the head when they say this race amazing,” Cord said. “I get to go with my brother and my best friend. It’s memories I’ll never forget.”

postheadericon Faith and rodeo

On a day when we celebrate our risen Lord and teach our young children the reason why, I like to the faith by which I lead my life.

I’m blessed by the grace of God. The old military theory is there are no atheists in foxholes, because when you face such uncertainty, you must lean on your faith.

The rodeo world is surrounded by foxholes, from the treacherous miles getting from one event to another to the potential danger of competing with wild livestock. Throw in the general nature of making a living on the rodeo trail – where a contestant must pay a fee to compete and only earns a check if he/she does better than most – and cowboys and cowgirls live their lives on faith.

They must believe in themselves, their talent, their fortitude and their work ethic. If they compete in the timed events, they have to believe in their athletic horses.

Most of all, their faith in God tends to be stronger than most. It’s what helps them strive for the best and fight through adversity, even when adversity seems to be winning. Their passions are strong and guided because of their faith.

And they remember, He is risen; He is risen indeed.

postheadericon Region champs

I’m not sure all the champs from the Central Plains Region of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association, but I know the Oklahoma Panhandle State men’s team walked away with another circuit title.

Of course, the Aggies had it clinched before hosting this weekend’s rodeo, but that’s just evidence of the strength Panhandle State carries into the 10-event rodeo circuit made up of college programs primarily from Oklahoma and Kansas. But it’s also a testament to the tremendous talent that runs deep in the region.

Congratulations to all the Central Plains Region champs.

postheadericon An engaging fundraiser

I’ve had a number of wonderful memories through the sport of rodeo. From watching my friends compete for gold buckles to having unorthodox phone conversations at 2 a.m., I’ve been pretty blessed.

The greatest rodeo moment came five years ago in Guymon, Okla., when I proposed to my wife, Lynette, during a fundraiser for Pioneer Days Rodeo. With the help of several members of the rodeo committee, I made out to surprise my bride-to-be in a way she would never expect. I’d made up envelopes that contained sheets of paper the words, “Lynette, Will You Marry Me?” I was holding the page with “Me?” on it, and when it was time, I got down on one knee.

The surprise and joy on Lynette’s face made all that planning more than worth it. Then she was prompted to open her envelope, which contained an 8-by-11 sheet of paper with the word “YES!” on one side. She held that 300-point bold type up to the crowd of 200 people.

I was tickled. Then Lynette told the crowd, “I didn’t have any other choice.”

Actually, she did. On the opposite side of the page was a little bitty “no,” done in 6-point lightface type. But she stuck with her first answer, and I’m still thankful. Over the past half decade, she has been my biggest supporter and a driving force for everything I do.

In two weeks, we will return to the Oklahoma Panhandle for one of the greatest rodeos in the country. We will celebrate the 10-year anniversary of our meeting, back when we shared a friendship and passion for rodeo, years before we fell in love and made our family.

I count those blessings still.

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