Camp comes to a close ..

Last walk up with a friend ..

It has been one of the hottest June’s on record here in Wisconsin and this week at camp, the girls .. most of them anyway .. didn’t seem to mind.  Other than one day.  They rode in the morning and went to the pool in the afternoon.

“Well,” my daughter tells me on the way home as she is reliving some of the fun that went on this week outside learning better horsemanship .. “some of the girls got really crabby the last couple days.  I think it was just too hot.”

We laughed a little about it, especially since we were at that point, sitting in the air conditioned car.  I looked at the temperature gauge.  99 degrees.  According to the car.

Hugs, introducing parents and taking last day pics ..

Our 11-year-old absolutely loves this camp ..

Showing families all they’ve learned ..

This is only our second year of overnight .. but she’s been fortunate to come for years to the day camp.  There is something about it.  The place.  The people.  The other girls.  Learning something new.  Being close to home but not too close to start to really learn to feel more comfortable in her independence.  Perhaps most importantly, it’s just camp.  Late night chats.  Secret stories.  Running around like crazy.  Freedom of being a kid in a cool place and confidence building in life and social skills.  That experience she’ll remember for a lifetime.  That she’ll perhaps tell her own daughter about.

One last ride for this year anyway, on Quincy ..

She gave a few hugs.  Said many thank you’s.  Bought the standard camp sweatshirt.  Grabbed a Gatorade and we hit the road.  Ran errands.  Then having had enough of the heat all week, grabbed the dog and headed for the River to cool off.

What a beautiful day.

………………..

While she has a few other camps coming up yet this summer, ones that I know she will love in very different ways ..

As we were watching early 4th of July Fireworks from a friends pier on the lake last night and she is leaning on my chest with her arms around me, she says, “Mom, I really miss camp.  I’m worried I won’t be able to go back next year.”

“We’ll see,” I told her.  “If you love it that much and it is important to you, that might be one of the things we’ll make sure you’re able to do.”

She hugged me tighter and said thanks.

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Cactus Jack …

Manawa, WI.

Roping clinic of the season #2.

Often, when people with horses .. or cowboys travel to any sort of competition or rodeo .. they sleep in their horse trailer.  Or a hotel nearby.

We awoke this morning at a B&B.

The Cowboy had no idea this is where we would be staying nor has he ever stayed at a B&B.  He pulled into town yesterday and one of the other guys in town for the clinic, a good friend of his, had booked it for us.

Think though, that he enjoyed it, for what little time we spent there.  Very nice couple.  Beautiful home.  Cozy accommodations.  Great breakfast.  Couple cats and a dog roaming the house.  Makes us feel right at home.  (Although their dog and cats appear much better behaved than mine, so not quite the same, but close.)

Anyway, we woke this morning, grabbed a cup of coffee and flipped on the Today Show for a few minutes before breakfast.

And on comes …

Sweet little, Cactus Jack.

(Following link isn’t the Today Show’s interview, but couldn’t find their official version online yet, so here’s just a link to the story.)

http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/technology/2012/04/cactus-patch-puppy-up-for-adoption/

…………….

“I got caught up in a cactus when I was a kid,” says the Cowboy.  “And no one ever felt bad for me and put me on tv.”

We both bust out laughing.

“Are you serious?” I asked him.

“I am.  Instead of Cactus Jack, I could have been known as Cactus (his name),” he says chuckling.

“How the heck did that happen,” I pried for details.  “And, where is my computer?  This, I need to write about.”

Apparently he was rolling down a hillside at his grandfather’s ranch in western South Dakota, in the Black Hills.  Something he and his brothers had done on occasion.  And this particular day, he happened unfortunately .. upon a patch of cactus.

“No one was there to help pick them out of my face,” he said.  Kind of pouty.

We are both now laughing somewhat hysterically.  Trying to keep some level of quiet given we are at the B&B which doesn’t seem to be all that soundproof and it’s early.   “I had to pick them out one by one all by myself.”

While a painful memory, time has healed all cactus wounds.  And this morning’s story on so many levels, while very sweet, (you really should go watch it) gave us a good laugh.

Off to the clinic.

Holding onto my thumbs, for now .. (catch up post from the weekend)

I love learning something new each day.  I love getting my hands dirty, getting involved, putting myself in situations that challenge me and make me think about who I really am and what I am capable of or able to do.

But there are also many times where I thoroughly appreciate learning something through the eyes of others and sharing their stories.

……………

The owner of the ranch hosting the Cowboy’s roping clinic had this past Sunday asked if I wanted to ride as they were all roping in the arena, and said it’d be a favor to him if I’d run one of his.

So I did.  A little bit.

And it didn’t take long for the Cowboy to ask a question I knew would be coming.

“Want to chase a steer?” he says to me.

He’s been after me to give roping a try .. which I’d love to.  And I’ve tried my hand at it, very meagerly, on the ground, a few times.

But I’m thinking I need like a year or two, where I can take off of work entirely and do nothing more than rope, to have all that much fun with it.  And more importantly, not injure anyone including myself.

It’s an incredibly acquired skill.  And while I consider myself blessed to be able to pick up most things quite easily…

This is one sport where I’m concerned I might lose a thumb.  (Which isn’t all that uncommon, apparently.)  Get completely tossed and break a limb.  Maim or plow over the steer because I didn’t better ‘steer’ my horse.  Or quite possibly, severely injure the person I would otherwise be roping with.  Like throw the rope around them .. and pull.

That .. would .. be .. bad.

“No thanks,” I replied to the Cowboy kind of chuckling under my breath.

The horse I was on would have loved nothing more than to rope that day, too and he was trying to let me know in no uncertain terms he was ancy to get to work doing what all his buddies were.  All he wanted to do is run.  Fast.  And chase more than the air I was giving him up and down the other side of the arena in-between the guys running the steers.

(All my own horse ever wants to do is walk, maybe trot.  She fights me to get her to lope.  But we’re working on that.  It would help if I would get out to ride her more often.  That’s a whole other story.)

“C’mon,” said the Cowboy.  “Just chase one out, see what it feels like, you don’t have to even have a rope” he added, as he walked me over and into the ‘box’.  I tried backing Roper in, kind of.  Didn’t feel good about it.  And walked him out.

“Not ready for that,” I nervously smiled and said to the Cowboy.  He laughed.

…………….

‘What is it, about roping that has so many people seemingly addicted to it,’ I asked the Cowboy Sunday night after we had both returned home, my daughter was asleep in bed and I had originally sat down to write this.

“It’s competitive,” he replied.  “And it’s kind of addicting.  Rodeo is addicting.  The people, the competition.  The gambling.  It’s like gambling, only you have some control over it.”

He laughed.

“Well, in theory you do.  Have control over it.  You put the money up and you win if you do well.  But you have two horses, two cowboys and one steer.  A lot can go wrong with that.  But if it goes right, it’s great.”

The Cowboy used to practice two to three hours a day .. and have a ranking most others strive for, I believe.

While he’s removed himself the past couple years through life changes from the rodeo circuit for the most part .. and says he doesn’t miss the 10 hour drive to get somewhere, the money it takes on gas and to enter, having to win and knowing if he didn’t the truck payment wouldn’t get made that month ..

He still loves the sport.

And says one of his favorite things now, is helping others learn.

Learn how to get along better with their horse .. how to use their rope better .. how to win more when they do enter.

This past weekend must have been a win for everyone .. because there’s already an invite for next year’s clinic.  Same time .. same place ..

Next clinic:  next weekend in Wisconsin.

(And I’m thinking I might put down the camera long enough to try a little ground work with the rope, get going on that yearlong or lifelong project to learn this sport, myself.)

Rainy kickoff ..

We’ve both been on the road and thawing out from too much time in the cold and the rain .. so I haven’t had a chance to really type much.  Or very well, anyway.  And I’m about to start working to get the kiddos fed while the guys get out the door so – just a few quick observations from the past 24 hours.

……………….

I’m not sure how long he’s been holding clinics..

But for quite a few years now, ‘twelve years maybe’ he says as I ask him this morning, the Cowboy travels to wherever he’s asked or hired to go, and he hosts roping clinics.

We are in Minnesota this weekend for his first clinic of 2012 .. and while all it’s done is rain since we arrived, the guys are making the most of it.

Since it’s at a dear friend of the Cowboys .. in fact, the first weekend we ever met in person, he was staying here to hang out and rope .. we’re all in tow.  His kids.  My daughter.

While the kids love to ride and try their own hand at roping when they go with their dad .. yesterday, we spent a lot of time on ground, running around.  Driving around in the Gator.  Chasing the dogs.

And at the mall.  While usually the two of them are happy to stay and throw their own rope, they preferred going to the mall where it was warm and dry .. and there are lots of fun rides.

The guys stayed and played in the rain …

We’re all hoping for better weather today .. but everyone is getting ready to roll rain or shine.