I’m sitting next to the Cowboy on the couch .. it’s not often the two of us find ourselves for a whole lot of time to just sit.
He is strumming his guitar. I am momentarily, with computer in hand. Because I rather enjoy otherwise, being unplugged during my down time. Especially at the ranch. And he keeps pestering me in a good way, to finally learn to play the guitar I’ve had since college, too.
“I used to think that was just so cliché,” a friend of mine said to me recently after we had gone to a living room concert and out for a beer in Madison. We were wrapping up the night and talking about our own band. What might happen at some point with our group should I decide or have the opportunity to move to South Dakota, which is on the table at the moment. “The Cowboy,” he chuckled.
He then went on to say, “But I really love the guy. And now that I’ve really had some time to get to know him (especially recently over a long day of beverages), I realize he’s really the real deal, like, he really is a cowboy.”
The Cowboy grew up on an acreage in south central South Dakota (try saying that five times fast). Got his first horse when he was probably 3. Started roping at that age too, maybe not off of a horse. But rode his first horse for money when he was 12 years old. He, his mom and dad and two brothers moved for a short stint to town when he was young, but he’s been back on a ranch and riding ever since. Did high school and 4H rodeo. Played football and went to college rodeo in the meantime and got his teaching degree, which would get put on the back burner. Got out of college, thought he’d try PRCA and was on the road for probably 7 years. Roped for a living. Sold horses he had trained.. always buying and then selling the horse he was rodeoing on. Trained horses and shod in the offseason. Moved to Oklahoma, got married, had a daughter, quit rodeoing full-time so he could stay home with the family. Being a rodeo cowboy, he tells me, isn’t easy on a family lifestyle. He would still rodeo though when he could closer to home. During that time, he also became a bit collector of handmade, silver-mounted, collectible tack. When his ex-wife went back to school, he stayed home with his daughter. He sold the bits he collected along with saddles and bridles and trained horses at night to support the family. They moved back home to be closer to family a few years later, the twins were born. Divorce soon followed.
In-between all of that .. he continued his work as a farrier, horse trainer and started teaching others the trade that in many ways is his right arm. Roping.
And whether it is the teaching degree or his personality by nature, he is told often, or at least I have been approached when with him at the camps he’s hosted and told .. that few others, even with more championships under their belt, can given as helpful instruction and insight, as he can. Not necessarily because he knows more, or can do better, but because he is just good with both horses and people. And can communicate. And apparently that’s pretty rare.
Because of that ..
An old friend of the Cowboy’s, someone he has ridden for and with at the World Championships for years, someone who I also know and have trained with .. brought a client for the weekend, a year ago to the day. (It is Saturday of Memorial Day weekend as I sit writing this ..)
And as the three of them sit around drinking beer and the Cowboy playing guitar that Saturday night .. our mutual friend says to him, “There is someone you need to meet.”