Going to school

A Pinch of Rodeo

By Joe R. Nichols


Going to school

I went to my first bronc riding school at 18 years of age as a freshman in college. Taught by Lyle and Ike Sankey, it was a three-day event that benefited me immensely.

Since age converted me to a team roper, I have attended numerous roping schools. You have to have high credentials to put on a school. These are people who have achieved great success, or are making their living at what they are teaching.

However, I have been around some of the most talented and accomplished cowboys in the world, that couldn’t teach you how to tie your shoe. Some folks have such a natural talent for doing something, they don’t even know how they accomplish it. Therefore, they are at a loss at how to explain the method to someone else.

In contrast, I’ve never encountered a published author that I couldn’t learn  from. They all seem to have the ability to pass along valuable, helpful, information. They are willing to encourage your given voice, without imposing their own style as the only correct way of writing.

I’m grateful for the talent I’m surrounded by in my critique group, and the other contacts I’ve made through Jodi Thomas and her Writers Academy at WTAMU.

I intend to keep learning and improving in my writing and roping. I just wish some cowboys could express what they know as well as authors.

A Pinch of Rodeo – Las Vegas Moment

A Pinch of Rodeo

By Joe R. Nichols


Las Vegas Moment 

It was Sunday before the last performance of the National Finals Rodeo. I won’t pretend to remember what year. I have a terrible memory.

We were there early and it was a nice warm day. Sunshine, music, and friends, kept us outside the Thomas and Mack until performance time. I happened to start up a conversation with a fellow from Los Angeles. I think he was about my age, and I believe he was a dentist. He showed me an autographed picture of Billy Etbauer. It was a great shot of Billy from the previous NFR on a paint horse called Rio Bravo, which set the arena record score. He held that picture like it was an ancient heirloom worth millions of dollars.

The story he told about getting it autographed is worth repeating. Billy and a few other cowboys were at the autograph table in the trade show. This man stood in line for 45 minutes, but ran out of time because of previous plans for dinner with friends. He was so disappointed. This was a planned goal of his before he left home, not something he decided to do after he got there.

He knew that sometimes the cowboys would come up to a certain section of the corridor after their event. He brought the picture with him to the rodeo. Sure enough, there was Billy, but there were friends all around him and he looked to be busy visiting. Not wanting to impose or interrupt, the dentist stood back, and held the picture up facing Billy. It took a while, but Billy happened to see the picture and recognized it. He immediately walked over to him. “Would you like me to sign that?” he asked.

I can’t tell you how much that meant to this guy. He was so impressed that Billy would leave his friends to sign a picture for a complete stranger, and take time to visit with him.

I wasn’t the least bit surprised, I just wish I could remember to tell Billy this story.