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Posted 6/22/11 (Wed)


I don’t know if there could have been a better weekend than this one. I had the opportunity to co-announce the North Dakota High School Rodeo Association Finals in Bowman. The weather was fantastic. Unless you count the 40 mph wind on Friday morning. The contestants were wonderful. And as usual, Bowman did the greatest job in the world acting as host.
I think high school rodeo is the greatest sport in the world. You may have a lot of assistance, but you don’t really have a coach. Or a set schedule. You don’t have someone to make you run laps. Or insist that you study. Or that you be in bed by ten o’clock. You don’t have someone to pack your equipment and load the bus. Unless, of course, you count mom and dad. If you want to compete, YOU have to do it! And compete they did.
These young cowboys and cowgirls began their year last fall with rodeos in Watford City and Bottineau. They traveled across the state from Bowman to Fargo with a lot of stops in-between. All hoping to qualify for state, and dreaming of qualifying for the national finals. Some on old seasoned horses. Horses that have run barrels and poles for years for young cowgirls. Some on horses they had grown up with. Horses that were a part of the family.
There was “Fancy.” The 32-year-old pole horse that has taken so many girls to nationals. Everyone in the crowd knew Fancy. And everyone cheered her three 21.5 second runs. She’s lost a step, but not her heart.
From goat tying contestants, who saw their dreams vanish as a goat kicked free, to a bareback rider, who won the first buckle of his young career.
The veterans of the finals stand out. They’ve been there before. And they know that tomorrow, or next week, or maybe next year, there will be another rodeo. Another saddle. Another buckle. And you have to just make the best ride you can on what you draw. That you can’t control what someone else does.
There are the cowboys and cowgirls that can tell you what every calf in the pen does. And there are those that worry more about who they will dance with that night! And you know what? I love ’em all.
I love the kid that pats her horse on the neck after a smokin’ good run. And I love the kid who is two seconds behind, but pats her horse cause she’s a tenth of a second better than yesterday.
I love the bronc rider who spurs a horse for two jumps, bucks off and gets up smiling. And I love the bronc rider who walks back to the chute, after riding in the cantle for eight seconds, and laughing, says, “I’d have moved my feet, but I was afraid I’d fall off!”
I love the girls who can come up in the crow’s nest and sing the National Anthem when I stick a mike in their face while I’m shuffling papers and talking into a radio next to them.
I love the cowboys and cowgirls who are there every week, carrying sponsor flags and lining up for a grand entry. Cause they love to rodeo.
I love the girls who will spend months getting ready for a queen contest. Knowing that only one can win. But knowing they will leave the weekend with new friends, and an experience that can’t be replaced.
I love a cowboy who tips his hat to a good bucking horse, and one that says thanks to a bullfighter that just saved him.
Heck, I love it all.
Get your kids a horse. It might seem like it costs a lot. But it doesn’t. Like one parent, who’s had experience on both sides of this deal told me, “Horses are cheap when you compare ’em to drug rehab!”
Get your kid a horse. And thank the people that care enough to put on the rodeos!