Finding a buddy group you can get along with is like finding the perfect pair of boots- what may seem good at first may cause a blister on the side of your foot later. With my custom Justin elephant boots to spur down bareback horses, and a couple of fellow Albertans as travelling partners, blisters are nonexistent these days.
For years of my career I was the young guy, cracking jokes at the elder statesman in the rig. Heath Ford used to cringe at my jokes about his need for a med alert bracelet, or how he should cherish his remaining days… karma is a harsh mistress, and her henchmen go by the name’s Kody Lamb and Clint Laye. Kody (a college freshman at NMJC in Hobbs, NM), and Clint (sophomore at OC in Odessa, TX), have no restraint in making me feel old. The dinosaur, cave painting, and brittle old man jokes are always in the air, and with recovering from my femur injury (May 19th, 2012) and back injury (February 7th, 2013) I feel every bit as old as they try to insinuate most days.
However, travelling with kids who actually respect my knowledge, have emulated my riding style, and enjoy though often underappreciate my sense of humor has me enjoying the road as much as ever. Their youthful exuberance and unencumbered love of the sport reminds me of my earlier years, before injury and the wearing of the miles set it. On days when the comeback seems tougher than I care to admit and the rodeo lights don’t shine as bright as they used to, Kody and Clint remind me to toughen up and carry on; they remind me what they used to look up to about me and it spurs me on. Karma is a two way street: the old man jokes have come full circle, but the help I gave in getting other riders started has them more than willing to stand behind me as I carry on with my rodeo dreams.
Having some buddy group ties has always seemed important to keeping a group together. In bareback riding there is The Pride, (Bobby Mote, Ryan Gray, Steven Dent, Jason Havens) and the Wolf Pack (Will Lowe, Wes Stevenson, Tom McFarland, Caine Riddle), so I decided to try a name for our little group of Albertans, the Rowelbertans. I decided creativity’s sake required steering away from animal group names and with its almost L’Amour sounding title, Rowelbertans has caught fire as a general referral to Alberta bareback riders as well as a specific group name. Our first weekend on the trail as a group- Cave Creek, Arizona was marked symbolically with the juvenile use of vehicle markers, (the kind used to write “Just Married”, or for high school pranks), as on the back of my full sized Dodge Ram van we etched a Rowelbertans team logo. The logo includes a five point bareback riding rowel, outline of Alberta and a dollar sign, to symbolize where we came from (Alberta, Canada), what we came to do (rowel out), and the outcome (paychecks).