The Ultimate Cowboy

No I’m not the Ultimate Cowboy. I recently finished watching the Ultimate Cowboy hosted by Trace Atkins. I think that Trace, however much Cowboy he really is, is very likely more Cowboy than I am a Country singing Artist. My daughter asked me if I’d sing her a Tenor Solo once after singing in the kitchen with her but when I realized that it was a request to sing ten or so miles away from her and so low that she couldn’t hear me I figured my singing career was at a standstill; not that I ever imagined that I had a singing career.

The Ultimate Cowboy Showdown was fun to watch. I asked a coworker if she was watching it and she snickered like she would never be that bored and no ‘REAL’ Cowboy would ever watch such garbage. She is certainly welcome to her own opinion and old enough  to choose what she wants  to watch. I didn’t watch it figuring I was going to learn some great secret about being a Cowboy but it was entertaining.

The 3 finalist, Jamon a Louisiana Bull rider working his way into ranch work and teaching young folks or even older folks the ‘Cowboy Way’, Stephen Yellowtail from Wyola Montana, a top hand and Horseman as well as a Native American with a strong legacy in ranching and cowboy work and last but not least Coy a Texas Cowboy and day worker. Overall I had to to agree that these 3 deserved to be the finalists.

There were 2 cowgirls left in the competition by the time I started watching it and I had missed a few episodes so there may have been more. I think that they started with 14 cowboys and cowgirls but like I said I missed some of the earlier episodes and there might have been a few more cowgirls but neither of the 2 that were left made the final 5.

The one observation that I had to make about the show is that everything was a timed event; that’s a really bad idea when it comes to working with cattle and horses. Green cowboys , green horses and being in a hurry is a sure fired way to build one hell of a wreck. We don’t always ride out on green horses but those older solid ranch horses were green at one time. Lots of miles and wet saddle blankets along with soft hands and not being in a hurry is what makes them old campaigners and dependable ranch horse’s, but add green horses to green hand’s, not a great idea to be in a hurry.

I had to think of all the great hands that I have rode with and honestly I don’t believe any of those ‘great’ ones would have been on the this show. It’s not that they wouldn’t or couldn’t be competitive but it’s more like they had no desire to share their heritage and cowboy skills to the general public on a ‘REALITY SHOW’. There’s no such thing as a reality show though as they are still setting things up for the camera and to entertain the audience. Had it been a REAL reality show there would have been a few fist fights and possibly some Tepee creeping.

Overall it was fun to watch but ‘The Ultimate Cowboy’? I’m not sure that there is such a thing.

If I was to start naming great cowboys that I have known and ridin with I’d no doubt leave someone out, but just for entertainments sake lets name a few; first names only.

Bill, Steve, Terry, Ron, Woody, Tim, Tom, Jim, Farrell, Gary, Bob, Bruce, Doc, Carmen, John, Mark, Sharon, Ronnie, Mert, Ty, Zach, Eldon, Buck, Shane, Kamron, Phillip, Kole, Scott, Jessica, Dale, Chuck; shall I go on? I think you get the point.

Terry and Steve were 2 cowboys that I met while riding pens in JR’s feedlot out of Grandview Idaho; both were and still are excellent hands, as good a cowboys as you would ever ride with. Steve is a born and bred Montana cowboy and has made a big loop in his cowboy career. Terry didn’t start his cowboy career until he was 20 but never looked back. Mert and Buck were some of the older hands that I met branding with John Lacey at Independence California. By the way age does not influence whether you are the Ultimate Cowboy or not. Age brings knowledge and experience but with age comes the responsibility of leadership and the privilege of staying off of young and green horses. It’s not that you can’t ride those horses but if things go bad you take longer to mend.

One of the all time best Cowboys I’ve rode with is Bill Perez. Yep I did it, I used someones last name. It’s very deserving in this case. Bill would not make claim to The Ultimate Cowboy but he’s easily in the top 5 that I have rode with if not number one.

I met Bill at the Stone Corrals located on the rode from Deeth Nevada to Charlston Nevada. He was running John Lacey’s cattle there on a lease for the summer. Bill was good with horses, cattle and men, that made him not only a top Cowboy but a top Cow boss. Good lead men are born but they are also made and refined through years of working cattle from the back of a horse and running a crew.

Bill eventually moved down to the Historic Tejon Ranch located on the south end of the San Joaquin Valley just north of Los Angeles. He’s retired now and living somewhere in Idaho but I have some great memories riding, gathering, sorting, roping and branding with Bill.

One of the last conversations I had with him a kid we all called ‘Buckaroo Jake’ popped up in our conversation, Jake had an overly inflated opinion of his self and I met him when we were roping and branding for John Lacey. He had the Buckaroo look  and rode with more vanity than anyone I have ever met and was a complete disaster when it came to any type of cattle work. I was some puzzled how he got a job and how he was keeping it. Later on he went to work for Bill at the Tejon and when I ran into Bill again he said the kid actually turned out to be a good hand, just as soon as Bill had knocked the ‘Buckaroo’ out of him.

Race and gender have noting to do with Cowboy skills. I’ve rode with about every race there is in the United States and found as good as Cowboys amongst any of them as you’ll find. Same with cowgirls, there are some dang fine ones out there. The only thing I’d have to say about the girls though and I may have a few rocks tossed at me for this, that is if they are not careful the life style can rob them of their femininity. I’ve been around a few that didn’t act like it was important to them but trust me ladies few Cowboys are going to forget you are a lady; even if you do.

This last week of June I spent my usual springtime 3 or 4 days helping move pairs from Mary’s Creek, south of Bruneau Idaho, to Nevada. The day after we finished I was in Walmart at Mountain Home and ran into Phillip, who I ride for, he mentioned that all the crew was talking about how rough that last day was. My bruises and aching bones had me agreeing with the general opinion but I was amused that even the younger members of the crew and the 2 youngest were 13 and 16 felt that way. The oldest member of our crew will be 72 this summer and 2 other riders are late 60’s and early 70’s. Sometimes I think the older riders only go just to prove that they can still get it done. I had a chance  to put some miles on a couple of 5 year olds that we are riding and roping off of and they did great.

Speaking of roping I saw one of my Mennonite friends throw a loop on a calf that would make anyone blush with pride and envy. They way he set it up was no accident and he wasn’t relying on luck, one shot on a calf that was standing still and looking at him. I can’t do it justice trying to describe it but it was perfect. Near as I can tell my Mennonite friend has no desire to wear the title of ‘The Ultimate Cowboy’, but he’s right up there amongst the best.

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