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Category Archives: Rodeo Camp

Turns Out They Were a Lot Smarter Than We Thought They Were!

Had a text conversation with a pastor friend yesterday who had just been through a pretty serious neck surgery (shoutout to Brad!) and is well on the road to recovery. Like myself, he’s an ex rodeo competitor and the neck surgery is just a little lingering reminder of the glory days gone by, so to speak. His Mom, referring to his rodeo career, told him when he was a young man, “You’re gonna pay for that when you’re older.” But, seriously, what could she possibly know about that?!

I remember vividly when I was about 22. I was rodeoing professionally and had came back home to the ranch after a pretty devastating injury. I had gotten bucked off a bull in Mineral Wells, Texas and landed kinda spraddle legged on my knees. Just about the time I hit the ground the bull kicked me with both feed right in the butt. It hyper-extended my pelvis and I knew I was seriously hurt. Got in my car and drove the 4 hours home; stopped to fill up with gas an hour or so into the trip home. I managed to get out of the car and filled my car up through the excruciating pain. But, there was no way I could make the 60 foot trip to the cashier so I honked my horn until they came out and took my money. Got home about 2 a.m. and sat down on the horn again until Dad came out and carried me into the house. I spent most of the next two weeks just going from the bed to the shower, to the table and to the recliner. I never went to the doctor, obviously should have! Three weeks later I was back on the rodeo trail but my hips and pelvis were never the same again. ….and even after a hip replacement (results of that injury) a few years ago, they’re still not!

I remember somewhere during that time my Dad saying to me, “All these wrecks you’re having are gonna show back up when you get about 40”. As a brilliant 22 year old I dismissed that as just another thing he wasn’t very smart about. You know how we were, at least most of us; mid to late teens we started noticing how dumb our parents were. We were obviously smarter and wiser than they were. But when you get out there in the ‘ol game of life you begin to get a little glimpse of insight into how wise they actually were. 

Looking back, it is amazing how full of wisdom they really were...and not just about a rodeo injury, which…in the long haul is blatantly inconsequential; but wise about other, and much more important things like relationships, money, business, attitudes, marriage, parenting, dealing with controversy or criticism, and a hundred other things. Most of all they were just wise about life, in general. 

Heads up young ‘uns, the phenomenon repeats itself!

I told someone awhile back, “I love being a Grandpa ’cause my grandkids think I’m smart; ….my kids still think I’m stupid!” Our little ‘crew’ is up and gone now and living out their own lives. I’m bettin’, by now, they’re learning what some of the rest of us have learned. And, Hopefully with them, I’m past the, “you ain’t very smart stage”!

Now, at age 63, not a day goes by that I don’t think about….and draw from the incredible wisdom that my Mom & Dad communicated, and ‘lived out’ in front of us! To say, “I’m extremely grateful”, would be to cut it monumentally short!

Turns Out They Were a Lot Smarter Than We Thought They Were!

Here’s a few you’ll like; don’t forget to share ’em with your friends!

Resistance Training

A Long Ways From the Lord

VIP’s #10 – Cliff & Charlene Taylor

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It Was a Great Answer!

If you’re not familiar with our Camp of Champions, you should check it out. It’s just about the most unique church camp you’ll ever bump into. It’s a rodeo church camp. There’s a few others out there but I’d estimate that ours’ is the biggest of its kind anywhere. This was our 14th year and as usual we had participants from about 8 states. It’s for boys and girls age 6-16 who have their sights set to participate in Jr. rodeo. In the 14 years since the inception of the Camp of Champions we’ve had several national junior rodeo champs, high school rodeo champs, college champions and even a PRCA world champion!

Instructors for the Camp of Champions is a virtual “Who’s Who” in the rodeo world. There’ve been too many world champions to mention who give their time and energy for a few days to help these kids in their respective rodeo events…but they’re also ‘champions’ in their walk with the Lord. Rodeo instruction takes place in the daytime and there are tent services at night with the instructors doing testimonies and most of the ministry. In the past 14 years there’s been well over a thousand young people who’ve given their lives to the Lord without any ‘pressure’ from us! We believe that the Holy Spirit is good enough at what he does that we don’t have to try to manipulate or frighten kids into making a decision. Jesus didn’t do that…..so we’re not going to do it either! 

I learned a long time ago that you don’t have to convince kids that God is real…..or that He’s good! They already know…..and they already believe! But during our camp recently I was reminded again of just how much the Father has already done for us to enable us to believe. It was on the last night service of the camp. There were over 80 boys, and about twice that number of parents, instructors and helpers under the tent. I was closing out the service when I asked a couple of really simple questions. “Do you believe in Jesus?” It was unanimous! I think every kid and adult in the tent responded with a loud, resounding “Yes”! I then asked the question, “Why do you believe in Jesus?” …..and it was unanimous again. But, this time, not one single person answered, I mean, total silence! It was 100% quiet! And, it suddenly occurred to me that, that was a great answer!! 

Here’s my reasoning; The Bible is clear that we’ve all been given ‘the’ measure of faith. It’s the same quality of faith that God used when He ‘spoke’ the world into being. It’s faith to believe in Jesus, His Son, even when we can’t even tell you “why”. I heard someone say it this way one time; “I just know down in my ‘knower'”! It’s that deep, God given, assurance of the reality that He exists….and that He’s good!

So, if you can say you believe in Jesus but you just can’t answer why…..That’s a great answer!!

Maybe you should tell Him, “Thanks”!

Check these out, too:

The Thing About Unconditional Love

Maybe You Should Quit Whippin’ Your Own A#$!!

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A Lot Can Change in a Couple of Months!

If you want to get the full impact of this story then you really need to read my post from exactly 2 months back….and read it before you read this one. (Even if you read it before…you should re-read it) You’ll appreciate it a lot more. “Why I Say, “Thank You, Lord”, When I See the KOA Sign!” *(Click on the highlighted link)

That was a day I’ll never forget! Having a brand new grand baby on one side of the hospital…then having one of our sons coming into the ER on the other side. But to get the real crux of this story I need to go back at least a year from the day the wreck happened with the lift truck…and the KOA sign.

Our son, Cole had started his professional rodeo career a little over a year before. He had a great rookie season as a professional bull rider in the PRCA, winning over $45,000 in that year. He qualified for the Prairie Circuit Finals where he won the Finals average earning a trip to the Dodge National Circuit Finals in Pocatello, Idaho. In addition to his PRCA accolades he was also winning in the PBR’s Touring Pro Division and had just barely missed the TV cut for the Built Ford Tough Tour.

One of the common adages in professional bull riding is, “It’s not ‘if’ you get hurt,….it’s ‘when’, ….and how bad!” Well, because of an elbow injury that took him out of competition for a few months he had to miss the Dodge Finals. And, unable to compete in the PBR he lost his standing there, as well. He had worked so hard for his dreams only to have them snuffed out! Seemed like a lot of hard luck in a short period of time. But, Cole kept a good attitude about it all.

Then there was that fateful day in December of ’06! We still realize that it was a miraculous thing that he wasn’t killed that day. The initial surgery was followed by perpetual trips to orthodontists that would continue for a year or more.

One of the PBR’s premier events in ’07 was the Copenhagen Skoal Challenger Finals in Oklahoma City in February. A qualifier event was to be held at the Lazy E Arena in Guthrie, Oklahoma the week leading up to the Finals. Entry fees for the event were $800. Our youngest son, Clay, did his best to talk Cole into entering the event along with him. But money was tight for Cole & Kelly who’d just been married the year before. So, it was a flat out, “No”! Clay wouldn’t leave it alone and finally talked him into it. He and Kelly put just about all they had together for the $800 entry fees. I guess you could say that everything was ‘on the line’!

When the event rolled around Cole placed deep in three of the four go-rounds ending up in the top three and winning over $16,000! It also earned him a berth in the Challenger Finals on the weekend in OKC. All the top PBR Bull Riders in the world were there and the go-round winners would win a smooth $50,000!!

Cole got bucked off his first two bulls. His third and final bull, Rattler, was one that was very difficult to ride, and had a reputation for bucking off nearly everyone who’d been on him before. He was the first bull rider out that day. I left church that Sunday and made the two hour drive to OKC. I made it there to the Ford Center and up on the back of his chute just in time to pull his rope and give him some ‘big time’ moral support. The bull performed to his expectation and Cole rode as good as I’d ever seen him ride before. It was an incredible ride! His score, 90.5!  **(A little ‘side story’ below if you want to check it out!)

I can’t explain how intense it was for me as 45 of the best bull riders in the world competed….just hoping that Cole would win a good chunk of the money. When it was all said and done that day…..he won the go-round……..and $50,000!!

*That was exactly 9 years ago today!

**Exactly 2 months from the day of Cole’s accident at the KOA sign!

Cole was immediately put on the Built Ford Tough PBR TV Tour, made the PBR Finals and won well over $100,000 that year! 

A lot can change in a couple of months!!

**A little ‘side story’:

**Cole and Kelly were getting ready to leave the Motel 6 for the Ford Center when a couple of our great friends, Mitch & Sherrye Louis called Cole. They were sad that they couldn’t be at the event that day due to other obligations. Mitch said he’d been up praying all night and said the Lord spoke to him saying today would be a good day for Cole! Before the call Cole was discouraged to tears from bucking off his first two bulls…feeling like he had let himself,…and everyone else, down. *That phone call changed his entire attitude as he headed to the arena!!

Check out this blog from a week ago:*(click on the highlighted link to read!)

The Bible Does Not Have All Your Answers!

A month ago:

If He Can Fix My Life…..I Know He Can Fix Yours!

A year ago:

Lady Gaga, Little Monsters & Jesus!

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I Was Born Rich!

Not the, born with a silver spoon in your mouth, kind of rich. But rich, nonetheless, in other things that, today, stand out as being much more important. If you consider the things that are really important in life like, …..to name just a few: good health, lots of good friends, a beautiful loving wife, loving parents, healthy kids and grandkids (smart & pretty too!), then I would have to be among the wealthiest people on planet Earth! I realize that those things are not experienced by everyone and there’s not a day that I’ve taken any of them for granted. I’m more grateful for those things today than at any other point in my life.

But, regardless, if maybe you don’t have all those things in abundance now…..there’s an incredible inheritance awaiting you. Jesus said in John’s gospel, “You must be born again”. He said that to an extremely religious man by the name of Nicodemus. He didn’t understand and reasoned out loud, “How can a man enter his mother’s womb and be born again?” (paraphrased) But Jesus was talking about a ‘spiritual’ birth. Jesus went on to say, “unless you’re born again you can’t enter the kingdom of heaven”.

Being born again is the simplest, easiest thing to attain. God has made it that way! It amounts to you and I agreeing with what Jesus completed on the cross….and then ‘receiving’ Him into our lives. When that happens some amazing things begin to transpire. One of those things is that you begin to experience that ‘incredible inheritance’ I mentioned earlier!

His Word declares, “We’ve been given all things that pertain to life and godliness”. Think about that one for a minute! On top of that we now have this awesome opportunity to engage in relationship with the Father. His Spirit ‘lives’ in us! And, Heaven is the ‘icing’ on the cake!

So, even though we may be struggling to make ends meet financially, and we may not know how we’re going to make our next car payment…..when we get this perspective we’ll clearly understand that we’ve been born (again) RICH!

I think you’ll like this one, too:

$$$ – Being a “Thousandaire” Might Just Be Better Than Being a “Millionaire”!

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It Was A “Test” of Epic Proportions!

Well that might be exaggerating just a little bit….but at the time, ……and considering my ‘new’ standing in the Lord, it really was quite the test. It was in 1985 and my good friend, Danny Mason, invited me to judge his annual bull riding in Mineral Wells, Texas. It was a big event; lots of money up, and some of the best riders in the world were competing there. The crowd was huge. I’m standing inside the arena and Cade, my 2nd son who was about 3 at the time, was sitting in a box seat where I could do my judging job and also keep a close eye on him.

The first section of about 12 riders was completed, there was a 10 minute break and we were about to start the second section.About that time I hear a loud voice coming from the grandstands griping and cussing about the judging. Well , immediately, I assumed that it’s someone that I know just kidding, and giving me a hard time. But I finally saw the guy coming up the walkway to where I was…..and I’d never seen this guy before! He swiftly walked my way and into the box seat section where Cade was sitting…..still yelling and cussing at me. By now he’d drawn the attention of everyone at the event. If not for his yelling voice, you could’ve heard a pin drop….and every eye in the place is on us!

I said to him, “If you want to talk to me, you need to get down here and talk to me!” But he just kept on! Now, I’ve never considered myself a ‘fighter’ but I’ve also always had a resolve to not let anyone push me around, either. In professional rodeo in those days I had to ‘stand my ground’ many a time. And what made this situation even more difficult was the fact that my life had, just less than a year before, been turned around…..and I was growing in my relationship with the Lord. So I knew, to handle things how we used to handle them,….would not be the ‘right’ thing to do.

Still yelling and cussing at me, I told him again, “If you want to talk to me, you get down here and talk to me!” He’s by now leaning over the top rail on the fence and I somehow resisted the opportunity to knock him plumb out, like I would’ve done only a few years before. And without thinking….I grabbed the hat off his head and just whipped him over the head with it! I then pitched it behind him in front of the grandstand and most of the 300-400 people were laughing uncontrollably…..and all my friends….well, they were laughing harder than that! When I did that, I said to him, “Now, I’ve told you about three times….if you want to talk to me, you need to get down here and talk to me! You got anything to say to me?!” He pressed his lips together….shook his head “No”, picked up his hat (amongst all the laughter) and made his way into the distance!

Now that probably ain’t the best way to handle a situation like that….and I doubt that Jesus would’ve whipped him over the head with his hat…..but considering the alternative….I think I did pass the test!

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*If you like Rodeo Stories, you’ll enjoy these: 

*(click on highlighted link to read)

VIP #1 Booger Bryant

VIP #2 Sarge Cook

VIP #8 Monty Taylor

8378 Zulu…..And the Flight That Was Almost the Last One!

First Trip To Calgary

August 12….A Day That Lives in Infamy…..*at  Least For Me!

Avoid the Vending Machine, Microwave, Green Chile Burritos in the Albuquerque Airport At All Costs!

 

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VIP #8 – Monty Taylor

I have an unlimited pool of people to write about when I write about VIP’s. There’s been so many people throughout the course of my life that have had a profound effect on me in one way or another. I’m grateful for the things I’ve learned from all of them and grateful for the deposits they’ve made into my life.

Monty Taylor, or ‘Mont’ as I’ve called him since we were little kids, is my brother (there’s just the two of us) but he’s been my best friend since the day he was born 59 years ago. Oh, we had our differences when we were growing up like all siblings do but neither one of us ever tolerated anybody else mistreating the other one. We’ve been ‘partners in crime’, so to speak, all these 59 years. We’ve had about every kind of ‘wreck’ with horses, cattle and bulls that you could ever imagine……and some you just couldn’t imagine no matter how hard you tried. We’ve even had a couple of car wrecks; one when we were headed to school in little Allison, Texas and hit a patch of black ice and rolled my pickup up on the side. Another the night before I got married. We’d had way too much to drink and ran off a bridge on the Oklahoma line. It was a miracle that me or Mont….or Ken Henry weren’t killed. Then there was the time when I was about a 3rd grader and  Mont hadn’t started to school yet. Dad had gone to shoe horses at a neighboring ranch and he didn’t let us go. We weren’t happy about that so we got on a big ‘ol tractor. We somehow got it started….and it took off. I bailed out! (Sorry Mont!) But Mont rode ‘er on out…until it hit a cattle guard and spun out ’til it died. It could’ve easily killed us both! And, let’s just say that Cliff Taylor wasn’t too happy when he got back to the ranch and the tractor had run through the fence.

We had no choice but to be cowboys and we took to it full blast. We started our bull riding careers on the arm of the chairs and couches in a little one bedroom ranch house on the Washita River 35 miles SE of Canadian, Texas. We graduated from the chair arm to riding on the back of our dad on hardwood floors. They don’t call ’em hardwood floors for nothin’! You learn early on to try as hard as you can to not get bucked off and bang your head off the hardwood. We went to our first rodeo when I was 8 and Mont was 5. We were determined to practice riding but we had no bucking chute….but we made do! When we’d see the dust from Dad’s pickup go over that last hill….we’d gather every cow, calf and bull we had and ride every single one of them. We’d run ’em in a big pen, rope ’em, snub ’em to a post, put our rope on ’em….and the rodeo was on!! Dad started gettin’ kinda suspicious when the cow herd wouldn’t even come in when he fed….and when he noticed how bad we were bruised and skinned up!! Rodeo was a pretty important part of our lives for the next 20-25 years. We rode in every major rodeo throughout the United States and Canada…..and won money at most of ’em! We were both inducted into the Texas Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame in 2008.

Mont Taylor is a ‘Man’s Man’! He’s a man of his word, treats every single person with dignity, hard worker, great husband and Daddy, has a thousand really good friends and I doubt if he has an enemy on the whole planet. He’ll ‘loosen up’ with the best of ’em….but wouldn’t ever cause anybody any harm. We live 300 miles apart but I talk to him a couple of times a week. I have a ton of respect and admiration for him. His impact on my life has been immeasurable…..Mont Taylor is definitely a VIP!!

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Check out some more VIP’s:

VIP #1 – Booger Bryant

VIP #2 – Sarge Cook

VIP #3 – Ronnie Chadwick

VIP #4 Paul Luchsinger

VIP #5  & 6 – Edith Yowell & Nellie Millar

VIP #7 – Rick Hudson

 

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8378 Zulu ….. and the Flight That Was Almost the Last One!

8378Z; That was the ‘call letters’ on my dad’s airplane. It was a great plane, Cessna 205, 6-seats, long-range tanks, STOL Kit (equipped for ‘short takeoffs and landings’), and a real ‘workhorse’ of a plane. By that I mean that you could load it down with weight and fly a long ways. That comes in handy when you’re traveling from rodeo to rodeo in the summertime with several guys and all their gear, and going to two rodeos a day (one in the afternoon/one at night). *(Over the 4th of July we went to 3 rodeos in one day! Cody, Wyoming, Red Lodge and Livingston, Montana)

The year was 1981. I was on track to make the NFR (National Finals Rodeo where the Top 15 in the World compete) in Oklahoma City. I had caught a ride with PRCA World All-Around Champ, Paul Tierney. Paul had leased a twin-engine plane and hired a pilot for the rigorous rodeo run through July and August. We flew to Custer and Aberdeen, South Dakota where I’d won the bull riding at both places. I had left our plane in Sturgis, South Dakota. I’d be back to Sturgis late that night where I’d meet my traveling partners, Gary Toole and Ricky Bolin. We’d leave there about noon-ish the next day for Hill City, Kansas.

The day before one of my main instruments had stopped working in our plane. The ‘attitude gyro’ just quit working. The ‘attitude’ instrument tells you if you’re climbing…or descending, or turning left or right. It’s an extremely important instrument. I had asked the pilot of Paul Tierney’s plane about it. He told me that, as an alternative, I should watch the compass….and that anytime the compass was moving…I was turning. I did not have an instrument rating but was fairly proficient in using my instruments in flying.

I was a good, safe pilot…..unless you ask Julie! Earlier in the year Julie and I, and Denny Flynn were flying to Del Rio, Texas to the Super Bull, the George Paul Memorial Bull Riding…which was the largest, highest paying Bull Riding event in those days. In making my landing approach I came in ‘a little hot’, had to make a fly around and then made a perfect landing. Julie tried every way in the world to get another ride home from Del Rio…but to no avail….she was forced to ride back home with me in the plane. We made it home fine but she was pretty hard to get loaded up in the plane after that!

I made it back to Sturgis sometime after midnight. The next morning the weather around Sturgis and Rapid City was overcast with some thunderstorms and low cloud covering. We were ready to head out for Hill City but I wasn’t going to ‘chance it’ with the marginal weather…and the faulty instrument. The weather reports were telling us that the clouds were moving out and we should be able to fly ‘clear skies’ all the way to Kansas. As soon as we got the good report we were taking off and headed for Hill City.

Only about 15-20 minutes into the flight the weather changed dramatically……for the worse! Heavy, dark clouds moved in and the ‘ceiling’ was only 300 ft. We stayed below the cloud covering, which is pretty dangerous considering that there are communications towers taller that that! The clouds appeared to be about 50 ft thick. We’d see huge gaps in the clouds of blue sky. The clouds were dropping even lower and I knew I had to try to go above the clouds. I told Gary, who was flying the right-hand seat, to keep an eye on the ground and I’d try to take it up through one of those patches of blue sky. Almost immediately we were encased in clouds….couldn’t see up, couldn’t see down. It sounds crazy but when you’re in the clouds like that you can be flying upside down and can’t tell it. It’s like being inside a paper bag.

I remember my flight instructor teaching me that you can just turn an airplane loose and it’ll fly by itself. That’s great if you’re several thousand feet up, but we’re 300 ft above the ground. That wouldn’t work! I looked at the compass and it was moving (which meant we were turning). I turned the yoke (the wheel) loose and the compass turned even faster. Not good! We were all in panic mode when Gary grabbed the yoke and pulled it straight into his chest. A No-No in most conditions…..and if the plane happened to be upside down…it’d fly us right into the ground!

Well, that didn’t happen; within a few seconds we cleared the clouds and our wings were vertical to the ground and we were climbing. I grabbed the yoke and brought it back to a horizontal, straight and level position. We were all exhausted from the stress of those few minutes. In 5 more minutes we were flying south with nothing but blue skies ahead.

I look back at that day often and it seems obvious to me now that the Lord had everything to do with preserving us that day…..and saving our lives.

8378 Zulu made it safely into Hill City, Kansas!

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