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Posted 2/16/16 (Tue)


I’ve always enjoyed rodeos. I grew up attending the Y’s Men’s rodeo in Minot and the Blaisdell rodeo every year. I don’t imagine I missed more than a handful of those rodeos the first 30 or 40 years of my life. But one of my favorites was the NDRA Rodeo Finals in Watford City.
They not only put on a great rodeo with great stock, they always added a little extra. Be it the “wild ride” or a dedication to something special. I’ll never forget the program they put on following the attack on 9/11.
One year they put on kind of a one-act play. Here is how it went.
It was like an old-time roundup. Cowboys sitting around a fire, talking of great cowboys and great bucking horses. Old-time cowboys probably didn’t have “Strawberry Roan” playing in the background, but who knows, I wasn’t there.
As the narrative wound down, the cowboys snubbed a bronc up, put a blind on, and just as we told the crowd to sit back and enjoy the rodeo, Nolan screwed himself into the saddle, and they pulled the blindfold off.
They couldn’t have done it any better in Hollywood. That bronc let out a squeal and blew up! He made about four good jumps, jumped straight in the air, and flipped himself over on top of Nolan! It was truly awesome! Well, I thought so. Nolan didn’t like it quite as well. But he did escape with only bruises. Then the bronc jumped up and bucked right through their campfire! Just like Charlie Russell painted it. It brought tears to my eyes.
Reminded me of my younger days. I wasn’t a bronc rider. But, I got on some. The ground wasn’t near as hard 40 years ago. And I wasn’t so top heavy.
I was riding a horse named Frazer. Big, good looking palomino gelding. A mouth like a feather. But he was just a colt and was inclined to test you early in the morning. I was a hell of a lot more scared of him than I let Hal and Dennis see.
We were going riding on the res. I thought I’d top Frazer off at home, so when he bucked me off, we wouldn’t have to spend the morning looking for him. I crawled on him in front of the barn and let him stand there awhile. Then I started easing him around the corral.
All of a sudden he jumped in the air and let out a beller. He crashed into the fence and I started grabbing a hold. I grabbed for leather, hair, anything…I just wanted something to hang on to. My levi jacket hooked over the saddle horn and he kept jerking me down by his head. His head hit me in the face and loosened some teeth and gave me a bloody nose. I tell you what, those buttons on those old denim jackets don’t tear out easy. It was like being welded to that saddle. After a few seconds, which seemed like a hell of a long time to me, Frazer stopped to catch his wind.
Hal and Dennis were laughing their heads off. I didn’t think that was very nice.
I didn’t find out till days later, that they had thrown a halter under Frazer to set him off that morning! Ah, to be young again.
Now, this morning, I have a colt tied in the barn, and we are heading for the yearling gather over by Yates. And I am too scared to spit. It’s lucky Shirley is here, to top off Boa.