Posted 12/07/11 (Wed)
Spent the last few days watching the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. Starts at 8 p.m. That’s eight o’clock at night. Just past my bedtime. But, being we have been involved in rodeo for 40 years, I try to stay up and watch it. Usually make it about halfway, and then fall asleep during a commercial.
I got to thinking this morning about some of the past Finals rodeos.
Shirley and I took in our first one in the early 70s. At that time the Finals were still being held in Oklahoma City. We were producing amateur rodeos at the time and this was an opportunity to meet some pro contractors and maybe make a deal on some bucking bulls or timed event cattle.
Some of the people we met became friends that we stayed in contact with for many years. One of the nicest, and also most famous, was the late Jim Shoulders. For those of you that don’t remember Jim, he was one of the first real superstars of rodeo. He rode bucking horses and bulls and later became a rodeo producer. He was a many-time All-Around Champion of the World and just a heck of a nice guy.
We attended a party with Shoulders, Clem McSpadden who was announcing the Finals, and several of the contestants. I thought I was really big stuff. Now I’m just big. Anyway, this party ended and Shirley and I were riding in the back seat of Jim’s car. An ice storm had enveloped OKC with a sheet of ice.
Now, being a north guy, I knew this was a dangerous situation. Shirley and I were in the back seat of Jim’s Caddy, with Jim and his wife in front. Jim had been enjoying this party and probably shouldn’t have been driving. Being older and wiser now, I realize that. We took off on that sheet of ice down the interstate. There were outfits in the ditch all over, and I tell you what, Jim handled that car like a champion! I told him later how I understood how he became a champion riding bulls! He practiced driving that Caddy.
We went out to his ranch and stayed a couple of days. Played basketball in his yard with a world champion calf roper and just enjoyed the heck out of our first excursion to the Finals. Years later, Shoulders came up to North Dakota and stopped to visit at the Watford City rodeo. I was as proud as a peacock when I was able to announce that our Grand Entry was being led by World Champion Jim Shoulders!
Still like Oklahoma City. Beats the heck out of being in jail in Las Vegas, but that’s another story.
I remember one year Shirley and I were in Las Vegas for the Finals. We had great seats, courtesy of some friends in Bowman. The chutes were loaded with the bareback broncs and I glanced over towards the chutes as they were getting ready for the grand entry. There stood Copenhagen Gordy! Copenhagen Gordy! What? You never heard of him?
Well, I can understand that. He was a bucking horse of Linseth’s that we raised on the Figure Four. We had a neighbor named Gordy that used a lot of Copenhagen and other stuff I won’t mention. We named the horse after Gordy and sold him years before at a bucking horse sale. I think he was renamed Captain Jack the years he was at the Finals.
Seeing horses you raised make the Finals is as good as it gets in the business. Made my trip.
Well, I’ve got to go take a nap. I’d like to stay up for the bull riding tonight.