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: