Friday, April 27, 2012

Good Times, Good Times!

I'll never, ever forget when Michelle West asked if I wanted to go on a rodeo run with her and offered to take my mare with us so she could get some miles and exposure. I took her up on it right away! 

First stop was Lufkin, TX - where Michelle of course placed. We camped over night. Although we were in a real nice living quarters trailer, out of habit - early in the morning, I went out and fed and headed out to the nearest hydrant. Michelle hollered out the screen, "Where ya goin'?" To which I replied, "Going to go wash my face and clean up." Michelle laughed, "Well hell, Eileen we have hot water! I am not going to rough it like THAT! I ain't Rex!" 

Then, we went on to Corpus Christi. When we got down close to the city, the air smelled good, and you just knew you were close to the ocean! We ooo'd and awe'd at everything! Michelle drove the trailer like a pro and we got into real tight parking quarters and went over to the secretary's office. Michelle was a little nervous about not having much area to warm up in. Hell! Everything was under concrete! The fair was going on with a big, lit up ferris wheel, heavy traffic, etc. I didn't know what else to say except "Well, now even the ride down made him work a little!" and "You'll be able to trot around up by the arena!". Didn't help her out much - but we both saddled up and led Irish and my horse Nae Nae over a real busy 4-lane and started our back-and-forth walk on the little bits of grass along that 4-lane. Talk about a zoo! Cars full of teens hollering and laughing; families with all kinds of little ones walking back and forth with strollers, etc. The fair and carnival sounds and music were so loud you couldn't hear yourself think - but we kept walking. Then, time came to get closer to the arena. Michelle led the way. Real tight quarters up there - so I backed my mare up between the Dodge pickup and the wall so everyone else had room. All Michelle could do was get Irish into a trot. For those who don't know Michelle's horse, he is known for really getting revved up - and really prefers to have more room to warm up, etc. Anyhoo - long story short, we were both worried - but Irish really came through - and we left with Michelle in first place! She ended up winning! 

We went right out, loaded up, and headed for Guymon, OK. Michelle drove, using my directions, which took us up through the country on a 2-lane highway - which I prefer. Michelle cussed me - and called me ole' green ears! (She likes to stay on the freeway - yuck!) We stopped about 3 am in Mason, TX at their fairgrounds and ended up staying there for another night. There was an arena for me to work on my mare, we enjoyed just resting, and the weather was soooo nice! I brought my own food - hotdogs and buns - my favorite - and she just shook her head. Irish threw a shoe, and Michelle got on the phone to find a good shoer somewhere between Mason and Guymon.

When we headed out for Guymon, Michelle said over and over how she just knew this wasn't a good decision to go up there. However, I kept encouraging her; and we swung into Guymon in the middle of the night. We unloaded at some kind of feed lot or something, wind howling, sleet coming down. We went from beautiful, sunny 85 degree weather to 29 degree, blowing, raining, and sleet! When we got the horses situated, we went back to the trailer and into bed. We laid there, with the wind blowing the trailer back and forth - and busted up laughing! "I told you!", Michelle said while tears streamed down her face. "What a bunch of shit!" We didn't sleep much - just laughed at every thunder clap, every gust of wind!

Guymon wasn't too bad for Michelle - she found a shoer - Dan Etbauer. Not only did he get up at 5 am in horrible weather, but he fixed up Irish and put a new shoe on. Then wouldn't take any money, because, and I quote "You're rodeo family". So awesome! Irish ended up making some good runs - so Michelle was pretty happy.

Another trip that we took was to some little town in Louisiana. I'll never forget it cuz Michelle's bridle broke on the second barrel, and Irish finished the pattern and came out with the headstall dangling between his legs. They came barreling out, past me and on out through open gates (which I thought had been closed) and into the dark night and parking lot! Irish went 9-0 to the horse trailer. Michelle won 3rd! We decided we were in no hurry to go home and stayed to celebrate her winnings - and being alive! We sat in her lawn chairs outside the trailer, watching the horses and visiting and laughing. 

Now - in order for you to understand the rest of this story, I have to tell you about Rex's dog, Chip. Chip has always been a good brush and bull herding dog. These attributes, however, have been the cause of being kicked numerous times - resulting in missing teeth, one missing eye, and a broke jaw - which Rex and I set as good as we could for him. Chip is quite the sight! He loves to follow behind me wherever I go, whining and talking to me - with a silly grin on his face - exposing his gums. His face is a little crooked, and where his right eye should be, all puckered up.

So Michelle and I were celebrating a little - visiting outside the trailer in her lawn chairs. Michelle had developed a stye in her, yes, right eye - and was a little stoved up. The out-of-control run through the dark parking lot, narrowly missing a little tyke in a stroller, had also taken its toll on her. However, we had been telling re-ride stories and laughing til our cheeks hurt! When we decided to hit the hay, we got up and Michelle led the way into the trailer. She stopped at the top of the stairs suddenly, and turned to face me, with her eye all squinted and a silly grin on her face. Between giggles, she asked, "Guess who I am?" I looked at her weird I guess, cuz she repeated herself, "Guess who I am?" "Who?", I finally asked.  "I'm Chip! I'm Chip!" We laughed our asses off! Yep! Michelle did resemble Chip - in the moonlight, while under the influence!

Good times, good times! :)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Re-Ride Home Decor

Here is a project that I have been working on for friends Add and Lori Waddell. They just moved into their new home, and Lori wanted this skull finished for one of their rooms.

We went to Hobby Lobby, and picked up a few things:
We chose what looked like red and brown-tinged mother of pearl pieces; that is until I poured them out and started to place them on the skull. They really were more pink than red! I used E-6000 craft glue. With a clean surface to start with and a drop cloth under the project, I began to piece things together!
I used a cake pan to hold the pieces and isolated unusually shaped pieces around the area, separating rectangular shapes and triangles and bone-shaped pieces for special places. I followed the seams in the skull, and surrounded the eyes and nose first.
The sides were a little tough, and I propped the skull on its side to keep gravity on my side! I also covered any area that would be seen while the skull is hanging. Notice that I left the forehead clear and concentrated on filling up the sides and jawline first.
Then, I started to fill in the forehead.  Notice that I separated the very small pieces, and kept them in a pile, for filling in small spaces and cracks.
Here is a shot of the skull, nearly finished:

Here is a side-shot: is the skull hanging on the wall!
It's a little hard to tell, but the brown in the shell really matches the horns quite perfectly. I believe that this skull is where Femme Fatale and Western Chic collide! 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Re-Ride Home Decor

Hello Everyone! I would like to start a new tradition at Rodeo Re-Ride Stories: Re-Ride Home Decor. For those of us who love and live the western and rodeo way of life, we have memories and memorabilia that really needs to be displayed. My circle of rodeo friends have great ideas and are so creative! Just had to share this idea for a window valance from Michelle West, Southeastern Circuit Barrel Racing Champion and wife of World Bull Riding Champion Terry Don West.

Michelle and I have been talking about getting all the buckles, saddles, pictures, back numbers, etc for our guys and displaying them somewhere specific in our homes - rather than having these items scattered here, there and everywhere. It means a lot to see and remember accomplishments. I went over to the West home the other day to help Michelle move furniture around, in preparation for a trophy room. Terry Don was there - and we all wrestled with a very large armoire, dragging it out to make room for saddle stands. I knew then that Michelle had a vision for the room. When I left her, she was picking out drapes, and moving pictures, etc. into the room.

When I went back yesterday to see it, I just LOVED what she did with Terry Don's Resistol chaps. Resistol sponsored Terry Don in 2002, and Terry is pictured many a time in them. She said it happened quite by accident, but they look like they were made for the window!

She added a classic leather couch, pictures, saddles, and voila! A trophy room that can be enjoyed by the whole family!

Michelle is still working on the room - to make it just the way she wants it. Believe me, it will look awesome when she is finished! She has the best eye for decor, the Re-Ride way!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Bull Rider Meets Surfer

I'll never forget the first time I went to the Ventura Beach, CA PRCA rodeo with my husband. I thought it was possibly the most beautiful, picturesque place for such an event! The sound of the ocean, the nearby carnival complete with a ferris wheel, and the sounds of the announcer and the crowd made for a real exciting afternoon! I also got to see several TV mini-series stars - and I thought that was awesome!

I made sure to sit facing the ocean - so that I could see the water in the background. Afterwards, Rex and I took the kids for a walk on the beach.  Then, nearly a year later, we went to Palm Springs, CA to the California Circuit Finals. There seemed to be a lot of surfer types at the event, and we even got to visit a little with them afterwards. I thought hard about the differences between the life of a rodeo cowboy and the life of a surfer. However, the more I thought about it, the more similarities between the two occurred to me! Afterall, they both are athletes, both challenge themselves to ride something completely uncontrollable, and rodeo has buckle bunnies and surfers have beach tramps! (just kidding!) So -when I got home, I wrote this poem, in 1997.

Bull Rider Meets Surfer by Eileen Phillips

A bull rider ventured to our western shore,
In search of a rodeo that would offer him more;
He traveled to Palm Springs just west of L.A.;
To compete in new territory where the "pretty" ones play!

After the cowboy scored 80 on the bull that he rode,
He stripped down to his shorts and upon the beach strode.
Two miles down the beach he met up with a man,
Who walked like an athlete, and was really quite tan!

"Hello!" said the cowboy, sizing the other one up,
"Yo!" said the surfer, "So hey man, what's up?"
"I just rode a big one", the cowboy replied,
"My strength, it was tested; my abilities tried!"
"Whoa, that's real heavy!", the surfer exclaimed;
"I can really relate to that sort of fame!"

"Yeah, it was a twister", the cowboy remarked,
"Right on, Dude!" the surfer excitedly barked.
"It rolled to the left and blew me to the right;
I just knew it was gonna be one hellofa fight!
That's when it all happened", the cowboy said with a grin;
"It welled me, unleashing my monster within!"

"Cosmic!" the surfer gasped in complete awe;
"You are the master Dude, you are THE law!"

The cowboy had noticed this stranger spoke strange.
But who was he to judge? This wasn't his range!
"So how long you been ridin'?", the cowboy now asked.
"Man, forever!", said the surfer. "I don't dig up the past."
He continued, "When I'm riding, it's tubular! And that's all I care;
It's just me and the wave, Dude, and we make the pair!"

Now the cowboy was thinking, just up in his head,
"What the hell does he mean, and is English plumb dead?"

The cowboy now spoke:
"Now I'm not from around here, so you'll have to explain.
Cause I ain't no "Dude", and you're not sounding quite sane!
Just what do you do for a living down here?
Do you ride on a circuit? Wrangle cattle? Drink beer?
And where are the pastures, the barns and the horses?
Do you often tangle with the Almighty's strong forces?"

"You're righteous, Dude!", said the surfer completely undaunted,
And to passing girls he his muscles now flaunted.

The cowboy could see now that two worlds had collided;
And to exit without a big scene was decided!

He left that long shore on the ocean that day,
With an outlook on life that he uses today;
When he's in strange places, he sticks to his friends.
He doesn't ask questions, and to business he tends!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Rodeo Re-Ride Guest Mindy Hogan: How'd They Halter That Horse?!

Rodeo Re-Ride Guest, Mindy Hoggan, has graciously agreed to share another bucking stock story - from a girl's point-of-view! Gotta love it!

The last performance of the rodeo has came to a close. We are getting ready to trail the horses back out to their pasture. I head out to the hill to close the gates & open the gates to the pasture. There are about 4 gates that have to be closed so the horses don’t escape. All of which are high traffic areas for timeys getting to their trailers. By the time I get the 4th gate closed…the 1st one I started with usually has to be double checked again. This fun lil’ game is the reason I stand guard out on the hill…to ensure that the gates aren’t opened & horses turned loose.
I holler for the guys to send the horses. My gates are closed & the pasture is open. Standing in the dark up on the hill awaiting the horses. The bucking horses not used in that performance were already out in the pasture. They made their way up to the hill to greet me. That nights rodeo horses come loping out of the building & meet with their comrades. As I look thru the herd of horses I see a……horse with a halter on it. Ugg, some timey’s horse must have gotten loose and now was joined up with the bucking horses. I make my way into the middle of this sea of bucking horses. I get a hold of the lead rope but she isn’t wanting to lead very well. Satin Sheets ( a beautiful blue roan bucking horse), ran between us and was dragging me & all but running the lead rope under her tail. I turned loose of the lead rope not wanting to get kicked. The haltered horse was all riled up by  the other bucking horses, I’m sure. I slipped around to get ahold of the lead rope again; this time trying to get close enough to the fence so that I can take a wrap around a post to snub her up. Thank the good Lord above I couldn’t get her close enough! She drug me across the hill top again & I start YELLING for the guys at the door for help! "HELP…there is a horse with a halter on! (ugg…seriously…..I can’t even catch a stupid timeys horse)" A bull fighter & a CSI roughy make their way outside to help me. (thinking I’m crazy) No, there is actually a horse with a halter on it. The three of us can certainly get her cornered up & caught. The rest of the bucking horses are tired of being ran around & head out to pasture. I set out to turn her back. ……Nope….there is no bluff in this ol gal & she didn’t even bat an eye at me trying to stop her. SERIOUSLY! Ugg….so the guys & I head out around the bucking horses afoot & in the dark. We sort off a small set of horses to bring in with her. Well, sort her off & catch her. I’m on the gate & the bull fighter is sorting. Holy mackerel….! There are 3 of us & we still can’t get her cornered up!After try, after try, after try….I’m fed up! Let’s run her back in the building. I run down to the building, thru the side door & holler for the big door to be opened. The rest of the crew inside….now thinks I’m crazy also. Why? They ask. Just open it! I have a horse with a halter on. They open the door & we run in the haltered horse with 2 other bucking horse companions.
Low & Behold……..This black & white mare is packing a number 4 brand on her hip (our rodeo company brand) & a 100 number brand!HOLY CRAP!!!!! This is 100 MISS LIZ… of our bucking horses! We run her into the stripping chute to get the halter off. This mare was not even in the short go performance! How in the heck did they get the halter on this horse! If I was truly evil, I would make you wait to hear the rest of the story…like I did.
HOW did they get a halter on that horse?????! This question plagued me all night! It probably would have plagued me for years if it wasn’t for a random turn of events. David & I get to the rodeo grounds to load the rodeo stock & head home. Well, some nice girl had parked in front of the loading chute. Her pickup was locked & no one could find her. No problem, we had to gather, sort & do a few things before we loaded. The college team was there cleaning up & a some of the kids came out to help us gather the stock. One of the guys says….Oh, there might be a halter on one of the horses. I don’t even hesitate.....before following with a ….HOW DID YOU GET A HALTER ON THAT HORSE!!!!????
He proceeds to tell us that she had got stuck in the fence the afternoon before. She was pinned with a leg thru the fence. Her hips were pinned so she couldn’t really move. They put the halter on to help get her out but once they’d freed her…..They couldn’t get the halter back off! LOL…, that would’ve plagued me for life if I wouldn’t have heard the rest of the story!
I would also like to thank the college girl that locked her keys in the truck. After we were sorted & ready to load….the truck’s owner still hadn’t surfaced. After about an hours time….a group of inexperienced criminals finally perfected our breaking in skills. The trucks wheels had been turned to the left so…we pushed the truck up hill & out of the way so the semi could back in. All a new experience for me, which I appreciated learning new skills. But most importantly, THANK YOU….because if that truck wouldn’t have been parked there….I might never have known how a halter got on that horse!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Rodeo Family Ties

Rodeo people often talk about their "Rodeo Family". I know that people on the outside probably do not really know what that means. What it means for me, is that there are people out there that are not part of my immediate family, but I can count on no matter what. Here is a story that demonstrates exactly what "Rodeo Family" is.

This last week, I took off from Henryetta, OK on a trip to Mineral Wells, TX. I was supposed to go down to help with the pilot program of the Champion In You ranch program, a combined effort of Chris Cox Horsemanship, Western Harvest Ministries, and Western Wishes. This program is being created to armor kids with the knowledge to intelligently face an increasingly anti-Christian, anti-American world. Because I am the Western Wishes Communication Director, I made the trip down; even though I had some doubts about my car.

The trip started much later than I had anticipated. Of course, there are always "extra" things to do. I had Western Wishes computer work and communication to finish up; I had to move our old mares; work out a calvey cow and bring her up to the corrals; pick up grain, mineral, and lick tubs from the feed store; feed and grain everything; and get cleaned up and packed! By the time I was ready to leave Henryetta - it was nearly 5 pm and Rex could not believe that I wasn't on the road yet! But I was thinking - only 4 or 5 hours - and everything was going to be alright.

I pulled into Gainesville, TX, about 100 miles from my destination, around 9:00 pm. I could not stand the smell of sulfurous fumes in the car any longer, and chose the parking lot of my favorite burger place - Whataburger - for some supper.

I opened the hood of the car to see what was going on. The battery was smoking; and battery acid all over the top. I gingerly unhooked the positive cable - and knew that the car wasn't going anywhere. "Oh well! I need to get a burger and think about this a little", I thought to myself. I called the Western Wishes staff to let them know I was going to stay in Gainesville for the night. There was an O'Reilly parts store within two blocks. I walked down and talked with the manager about the car. I learned that I was going to have to find a good shop. He gave me a couple of names and a list of things for them to check. I walked back to the car and called my husband, Rex. My phone was about dead - and without a good battery in the car, I could not charge it! I asked him if Shona and Ed Duffurena were still in Gainesville. He had our son Google them - and sure enough! They had a Gainesville address and phone number.

When we lived in Nevada and Rex was still rodeoing for a living, we saw Ed and Shona all the time - and consider them a part of our "Rodeo Family" but it had been 15 years since I had seen either one of them. I called the number listed on the internet. Shona answered. I told her my predicament. By now, it was nearly 10:30 at night - but Shona never hesitated. "We'll be right there!", she said. And, within 10 minutes, she and Ed pulled in. They took me to their beautiful home, fed me homemade chorizo, and gave me a hot shower and bed for the night. Then, the next morning, they took me to another one of my favorite places - STARBUCKS!!!

They found me a mechanic, and made sure the car would be fixed within the day.

Then, Shona drove me all over town trying to find me a new car charger for my phone - because when the battery went, it took my charger with it!  She took me back to their training facility, fed me lunch, and let me hang around with them all day - even though it was a very busy day for them with clients, feed deliveries, etc.

Ed and Shona Duffurena have really made a name for themselves in the elite world of cutting horses and have worked very hard at success. I remember when Ed was thinking of retiring from rodeo - and started training horses. Ed was a talented saddle bronc rider - and even more talented trainer - and that's where our trails branched out in different directions.

Left: Ed at the 1998 Dodge National Circuit Finals. Right: Ed won 3rd on "Auspicious Cat" at the AQHA World Show.

They have built a state-of-the-art training facility, have a barn full of well-bred horses, and a long list of happy clients.

I left Gainesville too late to participate in many of the Champion In You ranch program activities, but I did get to reconnect with some dear friends and "Rodeo Family" Ed and Shona Duffurena. I got to see first-hand what they have built from the ground up since I last saw them. I got to see their two fine children, Brandon and Rieta, who have grown into even finer adults. My car is fixed, my soul uplifted. Thank you "Rodeo Family"!!!

Duffurena Cutting Horses:
Western Wishes Champion In You ranch program:

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Rodeo Re-Ride Guest Mindy Hogan

Mindy Hogan is the daughter of Stock Contractor Jay Hogan - and now is in the business herself, hauling bucking stock and working hard. She also owns "Lil' Red Roan", a store you simply MUST check out for all of the especially western must-haves!

SO THERE WE WERE ;) ........Mud Lake Saturday Night Rodeo. Performance is going great! Packed crowd, horses bucking, flanking well, great committee, great crew....& It's Saturday!!!!! Yay!!! The last section of stock saddle bronc riding is rapidly approaching & I have 2 turn outs. Chad Rainsdon & Layne Crafton do me a HUGE favor & get on another horse to fill my perf. Awesome, save Chad & Layne until the last to make sure they have enough time to be ready. Rolling right along, 2 horses left before we put a wrap on the 2009 Mud Lake Rodeo bucking horses! Standing on the back of the chute.....packed with people...I'm standing by Chad...I think....Lincoln Zollinger was somewhere close. JP McGarry is maybe the closest one to me on the next chute down...I think. Out of nowhere this dirty rotten &!$@# rares up & smashes us!!!!! I'm not sure if she came over backwards or swooped from the side but suddenly my head smacks upside the chute cross bar...Thank goodness for cowboy hats! Whacked my head on the cute & then something else...not really sure...knocked my hat off...hit something else. Must have knocked me out for a second.....(they said I went limp) I didn't hit the ground but didn't have ahold of anything so someone must have caught me....not really sure (sources have told me that it was JP McGarry~ Thanks JP :)....cuz I did have to climb back on the chutes to flank. That's right, got back up & flanked my last 2 horses! I garun -dang- tee you I didn't miss the flanks either! I was good & mad & her & I got every inch of that latigo! Counterfeit little brugger bucked better than she had in the last 4 trips, counterfeit! Rock Star was my last horse out & he had a better trip than I expected from him too!

WOW, finished! JP was taking notes for me & asked what I wanted on that horse....ya, I couldn't tell him what the last horses trip was...dang it! K, so this flustered me a little...I didn't know what trip the last horse just had...uggg! 5 billion people are asking my if I'm ok (real sweet..but just sayin...doesn't help if you are already a little shakin up) Go to gathering up horse flanks ect. My little bro. J2 is back there trying to help my. He is asking questions about the flanks & how many we have & I can't answer him...I understand the question...know the answer but just can't make the dots connect without a struggle. Ugg, J2 was awesome & helped gather up the flanks. ( Today, I'm still not sure if everything is right;) I pack a set of flanks to the trailer & am headed back to get the rest. I meet up with Richard & Bret (my pickup men) on the way back. Richard starts asking me if I'm ok....questions & apparently I failed because off to the ambulance I went. Not to worry, I'm ok, I'm ok. They get me to the ambulance...questions, questions, questions....just for the record the questions are prejudice....I didn't know the date before the perf when I was trying to write checks...I don't know what makes you think hitting my head is going to help! ;) They take my hat off (tons of people gathered around) sweaty, dirty rodeo hair...awesome. They decide that I need to be put in the meat wagon...ya, they put me on the stretcher & LIFT me into the they wished I hadn't eaten so many Twinkies :) The test began....flash lights in the eyes, more questions...& of course my best friend, the blood pressure test! (insert dunt-dunt-da horror music here)...Shocking my pressure is high, really, really high. ( I try to explain that as long as my rodeo is going on outside & I'm inside...probably not gonna go down) Aww, deep can do this. My buddy, Bry hops in the ambulance to keep me company. FYI: EMT's DO NOT think you're funny. Bry & I thought we were hilarious :) Ok, ok can do this...deep breaths, happy place, you've got to calm down so they will let you go.....aww, ya! It lowers & the very nice people let me go. It was a pleasure to meet them & they were very good at their job but I'm glad my visit was a relatively short one :)

The rest the night went well. Rodeo perf ran smoothly. The bulls won......11/ bull rides for the weekend. We went thru the motions of a regular rodeo weekend: loading stock to go home, gather up all our equipment, feed & water the animals staying the night and last but certainly not least, pay everyone for there services. This is the portion of the night that got a little trying. I was pretty sure I was fine...but fine & can walk, talk, write, spell, add & write checks are completely different things. :) If anyone had the pleasure of talking to me that night...I thought I was fine but struggled to get the exact words where I wanted them. Writing thank you notes & checks to my crew....pretty sure that I was putting letters in words that didn't necessarily belong & let's hope the good Lord above that I wrote the checks correctly :). Right before I left I stopped at the Rodeo CLub food booth & ....thought I was doing really well......they asked numerous times if I need someone to drive me home...I thought my conversation made perfect sense but from the looks they were giving me....I finally know how Jake Hayworth feels when he gets knocked out :) 

I did make it home safe & sound Saturday night. Sunday morning at 9 am on the dot I was back to the rodeo grounds to gather timed event stock & load the truck to head back to Homedale. Shocking but I had a bit of a headache :) after the truck was loaded out I headed back to Wade & Nancy's where the couch & I spent some quality bonding time :) Thank you for all the calls & concern checking up on me. JP & Chad both called to check in. Chad's conversation was quite enlightening. He had asked me earlier if I had broke my glasses. I told him no, they were fine. He thought that was what was digging in his back. I replied well, atleast I was a good cushion for ya :) He had bruises down his shoulder & even turned his butt black & I don't think the horse hit me at all. From what I can put together, She hit Chad & (some others who got clear) it was a domino effect. I slammed into the metal chute & she just malled us for a second or so. (they are lucky I didn't dent the chute hard headed as I am :) Chad made a great ride buy when he got off his horse they thought it broke his leg. Thank the good Lord above, Sunday it appeared to be only a really really bad sprain. 

Thanks again to all my friends & family who helped out or checked in. I appreciate all your love & support. I'm doing fine now & I can guarantee you ...she will be tied in next time :)

Monday, January 23, 2012

It's In His Blood

I promised earlier to tell the whole story about how our son, Billy Quade, started riding bulls. Many a relative and friend has wondered how we could encourage such a life choice. Like I've said before, Rex earned a living riding all three rough stock events, and Quade watched intently from the time he was just tiny. In fact, when he was only 22 months old, and just barely talking, he would walk around saying, "sheep, sheep, sheep". We would go to a rodeo, get seated in the companion section with all the girlfriends and wives and kids, and he just couldn't contain himself when the sheep riding came up. He would fuss and fuss to go down to the arena. When the Spring Creek, Nevada rodeo came up  just 30 minutes from the ranch, Rex said that we were "going to break an egg in this kid" and let him ride in the sheep riding. I had a bad feeling from the beginning - and even told Rex that they wouldn't let a kid as young as 22 months in. But Rex said he had it handled - and Quade would get  in.

"Remember, he is going to get freight-trained and he is going to cry. DO NOT go down to the arena to pick him up. Let him walk back to me. If he gets real hurt, I will handle it!", Rex firmly instructed. When Rex swung our little son over the side of the chute and down onto the sheep, Quade started to have second thoughts. Rex employed Charlie Mariluch to help him get our baby unstuck from the wood slats, as Quade was now crying and sticking to everything like a piece of Velcro. "Hold on Rex, what exactly constitutes child abuse?", Charlie hollered above Quade's "No! No! No!"  "Just help me get him on the sheep, Charlie! We're breaking an egg in him while he's young!" Rex retaliated.

Long story short, Quade made it MAYBE one jump before getting freight-trained by the monster Suffolk. I watched my little baby, struggle to get up, looking around the big arena for help. He was crying uncontrollably. "How old is this one?", the announcer said in amazement. "I'll bet he's the youngest we've ever had so far!", he continued. I was seated directly across from Quade. Rex was motioning at me to stay where I was. The mothers around me were all talking. "Where is his mother?", one asked. "This is ridiculous!", she continued. I put my head in my hands. Quade turned and saw his Dad. He started to stumble towards him, arms outstretched.

Then, out of the blue, came the bullfighter. He had a two-liter bottle of pop, which he handed to Quade. "This little tyke deserves a Hard Luck Award!", the announcer yelled. The audience went wild. Quade heard the audience's approval. He immediately stopped crying. The pop bottle was dragging on the ground, his little arms just barely able to reach around. He had the biggest grin on his little face. And that's how it all started.

Quade went on riding sheep until he was seven.
Then, he moved on to calves - then steers - then his first bull when he was twelve.
And now, he's 19 and qualified for his first finals event, for the BRI Association.
So it's in his blood and it's what he loves. And as Rex so eloquently put it, "If it wasn't for that *%$!*ng bullfighter, we would've broke an egg in that kid!"

Monday, January 16, 2012

A Double Room

Back in 1989, on our way to the College Rodeo Finals in Bozeman, MT, Rex and I shared a room with some real good friends of ours. We were coming from the Sacramento, California area. They had  a two-year-old son and our daughter, Sydnee, was just two months old. We stopped to get a room just outside Yellowstone Park because it was so late and we wanted to get a good night's sleep before pulling into Bozeman for check-in. After getting a double-room, we started to get the young ones ready for bed. A partially pulled out a drawer from the dresser, lined with blankets, was the baby's bed. It locked, so that it would not come completely out and was perfect. The two-year-old, however, walked over to it and tried to push it shut when he felt the baby was crying too much!

It was then that I started thinking about how rodeo cowboys travel, hotel rooms, and all the stories Rex had about how many cowboys  they could sleep in a double room. This is a slight exaggeration, but there is some truth to this poem!

A Double Room by Eileen Phillips

When travelin' from rodeo to rodeo,
A hotel room is often needed.
But when paying your own expenses,
The cost surely needs to be heeded!

So how many will a double-room,
Comfortably sleep for overnight?
The answer my friend, is fourteen.
Anymore would make quarters quite tight!

Three lengthways in each of the double beds,                                       
One guy on the floor in between.
Because of trips to the bathroom,
This one should be quite lean!

Two bull riders could sleep width-ways,
At the foot of each of the beds;
One could fit in the bathtub,
With a pillow to protect his hard head!

There's floor space beside the door,
But this guy should be first to leave;
For getting cowboys up early,
Is reason for all of them to grieve!

Two more skinny bronc riders,
On the floor to the left of each bed;
And the fourteenth could stay on the dresser,
But this is the spot they all dread!

And so the total for a double-room,
With tax is Sixty-Five and Twenty-Two.
Each man only pays Four and Sixty-Five cents;
Provided the hotel doesn't ever have to sue!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Injured List

During Rex's 18 year rodeo career, one of the most excruciating decisions of his life was during the summer of 1994 when he had to withdraw from competing at both the Salinas and Cheyenne rodeos due to a knee injury.

There is nothing worse, aside from a trapped, bleeding grizzly on the fight, than having to deal with a rodeo cowboy on the Injured List.

At first the man refused to believe the knee was hurt as bad as it felt; especially when he discovered he had drawn Western Rodeos' Rockin' Ronnie in the Saddle Bronc Riding at Salinas. Rex hobbled around, his face defying gravity with all manner of contortions. He walked with one leg stuck awkwardly out to the side, so as not to put too much weight on it. I kept waiting for him to call ProCom in Colorado Springs to "Doctor Release" by the deadline in order to avoid paying the hefty fine plus entry fees of $700 (Rex was riding all three rough stock events at the time). My father-in-law, Bill, finally challenged Rex to do ten knee bends in one minute. Rex took him up on the dare, drew a deep breath, and started down. Down, down, down but alas; not up! Later, he reluctantly called in to withdraw from competition 30 minutes under the wire.

In the first five years of our marriage, our most trying times had been when Rex was on the Injured List. Suddenly, there were two parents at home. The kids would look at us, confused, when Rex and I barked different orders at them simultaneously. Rex would stare me down and say, "I'm perfectly capable of handling this situation!" Most of the time I would bow out gracefully. However, there were times that neither would back down and the kids ended up getting away with nothing short of murder!

A cowboy "on the bench" yearns for the adrenaline rush that rodeo provides. It's an addiction; almost like playing a game of Craps. In order to keep himself occupied, Rex decided to set up our double-wide trailer on our dream spot on the hill above the main ranch. He hopped on the backhoe, and dug all of the water lines 7 feet deep (nearly twice what was needed). He started riding a colt for his Mother. It was a good reason to use his bronc saddle! He told me, with a look of disappointment, that the "horse was real good, and almost no trouble at all" one day when he got finished working with it.

Then, he picked up a new passion. Picture this: a double set of train tracks running through our family ranch just outside of Elko, NV. One for trains going West to East; and one going East to West. One had to cross both in order to get from our dream spot on the hill to the ranch house, barn and corrals below. From high atop the hill, Rex could spot the light from a train approaching the crossing to the main ranch. He would jump on the tractor and head down the hill, racing across the iron rails with little time to spare. I cannot imagine the stress he caused the poor train engineers!

One night Rex came in the house at about dark with a look on his face of a man who had spent his whole life savings at the slot machine in Vegas, yet ready to take a loan out so he could play more. "Guess how close I came to gettin' it today? ", he asked. His Mother and I sat, staring at the T.V.  Neither of us wanted to encourage this sort of activity, and tried our best to ignore him as he told his story anyway with all the enthusiasm of a seven year old. "Rex! I don't want to hear this!", his mother interrupted with a yell.

What is the moral to this story? When your rodeo cowboy is on the Injured List - keep him busy! Very, very busy!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

12 Days of Cowboy Christmas

Here is a great Re-Ride story - via a Rodeo Cowboy Journal. It's just the first 12 days of "Cowboy Christmas" for my husband, PRCA Bull Rider Rex Phillips. He was making a living for himself and our family; back in 1998. (We didn't have cell phones then.) As you read, you'll see that rodeo was a lot of traveling, a little sleeping, and even less eating! I don't think a lot has changed since then!

JULY 1: Flew from Reno, NV to San Antonio, TX. Drove a rental car four hours into Belton, TX. Hot and humid. Got on a jerk-u-down, rotten, son-of-a-gun! No money. Did I say hot and humid? Drove halfway back to San Antone to a rest area where I called the wife on a pay phone while weird-looking people wandered grounds. Tried to sleep in economy-sized rental. Had to keep waking up to turn on air conditioner. Almost out of gas, or I would've left it running!
JULY 2: Flew into Salt Lake City, UT. Met up with traveling partner Marty Staneart and drove an hour into Oakley, UT. Haven't eaten since yesterday, so grabbed something before the rodeo. 88 points on a good bull. Winning when I left. It'll be the one to pay our bills.
JULY 3: Got to stay in a bed last night! Wife met me in Salt Lake, and we drove to West Jordan, UT. Looks like finger is broke on riding  hand. All swollen. Bull no good, so turned him out. Stayed and watched anyway. Paid my fees. Ate two meals today! Stomach feels like it'll pop!
JULY 4: Said goodbye to wife, took flight from Salt Lake into Phoenix, AZ. Chartered plane to fly four of us into Prescott, AZ. 115 degrees today. Too hot for plane to carry all four of us. Figured out who had worst bull at Prescott. It was poor Marty. He stayed grounded - and was the one that chartered the flight to begin with! The rest of us went on, with only our essentials - which meant I had to make my bag as light as possible. Left my riding vest behind. Marty met us in Window Rock, AZ later that day in rental with all our stuff. Covered my bulls, but no money in Prescott or Window Rock. Saw an old friend though - he was working at the race track in Prescott, saw my name in the program and came back behind the chutes to see me.
JULY 5: Flew from Phoenix to Salt Lake, then on to Portland, OR. Some guys picked me up and we drove on into St. Paul, OR. Fell off! Donated fees. Finger swollen to twice normal size. Can't ride with left hand, so stayed off at Mollalla, OR later that night. Back to Portland.
JULY 6: Flew into Salt Lake. My Mom came to pick me up. Found out today I won Oakley, UT. Paid for my week, plus. Got two days at home in Elko, NV.
JULY 7: Home cooked meal, appointment with Jesse, physical therapist.
JULY 8: More physical therapy.
JULY 9: Drove from Elko, NV to Nephi, UT with Marty. Splitting first when I left.
JULY 10: Vernal, UT. Hand giving me hell. Better wait for Nampa, ID Got a good one there!
JULY 11: Had to travel with the guys to Wyoming. Don't have my own car, or I'd be home!
JULY 12: Driving back to Elko. Ended up splitting second at Nephi, UT. Good pay out. We'll pay our bills this month!