I know it’s been a while, but there is a lot of good stuff happening. I don’t know where to start- we are healthy, happy and gearing up for a spectacular summer.
One of the things I love most about rodeo is the close-knit family feel of the industry. It is amazing how many people you meet all over the country, and it seems that everyone knows everyone. To think of the people I have had the opportunity to meet and get to know is incredible. Some of my best friends are from different states throughout the country, and there’s one giant rodeo community from coast to coast.
I am also a history freak when it comes to rodeo. I have a lot of respect for the early days of rodeo. This sport was founded on the work of real cowboys. I think it should be mandatory to enter more than one event at rodeos. Don’t get me wrong, the more event-specific, specialized cowboys of today are incredible at what they do- but I think guys who could show up and work several events were absolute cowboys. What Trevor Brazile does is unbelievable. To dominate in events where he’s primarily competing against specialized, one-event guys is spectacular. Put him up against any header, tie-down roper, or steer roper in the world and he would be right at home. That’s pretty darn special.
Guys like Phil Lyne were incredible back in the day- he won National Finals Average Titles in the tie-down roping, bull riding and steer roping. Keep in mind that he won the tie-down roping and bull riding average titles in the same year. That is a cowboy. There were plenty of guys who competed in multiple events at the National Finals Rodeo, but it is much less occurring these days. In fact, one of the greatest team ropers of all-time, Leo Camarillo, holds the fast-time record at the Timed Event Championships in the steer wrestling. That guy could obviously team rope, but he could bulldog and rope calves with the best of them too. A few guys who have competed at the NFR in multiple events over the years includes World Champions: John W. Jones Jr. (World Champion Steer Wrestling and Tie-Down Roping), Joe Beaver (Tie-Down Roping and Team Roping), Ty Murray (Bareback Riding, Saddle-bronc Riding, and Bull Riding), and Tee Woolman (Team Roping and Steer Roping).
The thing that triggered the idea of all of this was last week when my brother, Taylor, and I traveled to some rodeos with our buddies Case Hirdes and T.J. McCauley (Thanks for driving T.J.; Ha!!). We got to stay at the Hirdes’ house one night, and Case’s grandfather, Les, was the 1963 World Champion Team Roper. He competed at the NFR 17 times, and won two average titles at the NFR as well. Case’s dad, Ed, is a former NFR Team Roping Qualifier too. I had heard stories of my Papa Frank bulldogging on Les’s head horse at the California Rodeo in Salinas. When we were walking out the door the other night, Case pointed out a picture of his grandpa winning a round in the team roping at the NFR in 1967. Ed confirmed that he was indeed riding the horse that my grandpa used to bulldog on at Salinas. After I got home, I found a picture of my grandpa bulldogging at Salinas on that horse with Les hazing. Pretty neat. It is really cool to me the history of all that. Les and my grandpa were pals. Now, getting to be good buddies with Case and his family is pretty special.
Here is a picture of my grandpa bulldogging at Salinas on Les Hirdes’ great head horse in 1974. That was the year my grandpa won the All-Around. Les is performing the hazing duties. Below that is a picture Case and I took at our West Coast Regional Finals College Rodeo in Las Vegas a couple weeks ago. In fact, the other day Case hazed for me at a rodeo. My brother rode his heel horse last summer. Case’s older brother, Blake, rode my calf horse at a couple rodeos this winter down in Arizona. To the Hirdes Family- thank you for your friendship. It has a long history.