Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A Tribute

Champ 1976-2008

The day had finally come. It was heartbreaking but it had to be done. Austin's old pony had reached a point where he needed to cross the bridge and run through the fields of pony heaven.

We got him May 2007 from a family who was moving north and they thought he was 30 or so then. He was wooley...just shedding his winter coat. We soon found out that Icelandic's shed from the first warm day until the first cold day. They never really "slick out" like other horses. He was just wooley all winter though, he had the coat of a yak.

He was onery to Kennedy but seemed to take an instant liking to Austin. When we would be fed up with his antics and "short man" syndrome, Austin would remind us that he was just a "grumpy, old man" and we would learn to look at him as a "grandpa" sort of pony and we learned to develop more patience. He didn't like to do anything fast including eat which would sometimes take up to 2 hours. He only had one back tooth though so we would wait and then let him out of his stall to join the herd.

When his herd was turned out to pasture in the spring, Champ just went crazy without them. With only one back tooth it was impossible for him to survive on pasture and grain...he required a special diet of beetpulp, grain, orchard grass pellets and a variety of supplements. He was lonely and depressed and so we bought him his own pets...2 goats we named Zack and Cody. To say that Champ was thrilled about the idea is greatly exaggerating. While he enjoyed having someone else here, the goats were a pain! He loved bossing them though so he spent much of his time bullying and throwing tantrums their way.

While he was the smallest and the oldest, he gained respect from the rest of the group. He had no problem letting them know when they ticked him off and once, even Austin got it in the face! Champ had had it with the fillies and didn't realize Austin was behind him when he kicked out. I was ready to find him another home at that point but Austin stepped in and won the day for Champ once again.

He was Kennedy's first rodeo pony and even Austin used him a time or two. He never earned a good time but he put all his heart in to running barrels and poles. He was stubborn though and without a strong rider could take off and do his own thing, as Kennedy found out more than once. With Austin he was as good as gold.

He was a beautiful pony with a honey colored body and soft blond mane. I can imagine that in his day he was quite the show stopper. We heard he had been a parade horse and I can believe it.

He loved trail rides at Hughes farm. It didn't matter that he was old and arthritic, when he saw that was where we were headed, he was off and running. He loved Chazz and trail riding with him was pure heaven for Champ. I'm sure that where ever horse heaven is, he is running through the trails and jumping the low branches. We took him on his last ride this summer and it was clear that he was struggling to keep up. It was then that I knew the decision would have to be made soon.

We discussed it with the vet several times and they urged us to make the decision before November when the weather would turn cold and the east wind would howl through the trees. Even with his big wintery coat and our heaviest blanket, last winter was a struggle for him so we knew that another winter would be impossible. The days became shorter and we spent a great deal of time discussing what needed to be done with Austin. While he knew in his head it was the right thing to was much harder telling his heart.

Austin didn't want to be there so Daddy stayed behind to be with Champ. It was over quickly and painlessly for Champ but took some time for Austin to get through. He is healing and starting to spend more time with his horse, Cooper. While Cooper can not replace Champ, he does help to soothe the soul a bit.

We would like to thank Columbia Equine for their exceptional care of our horses and for the lovely condolence card. Also, in Champ's memory, they gave a substantial donation to the scholarship fund at OSU's veterinarian program. We thought that was just awesome.

God forbid that I should go to any Heaven in which there are no horses. ~R.B. Cunninghame Graham, letter to Theodore Roosevelt, 1917

Monday, October 27, 2008

Austin is the 2008 Northwest Youth Rodeo Junior Bareback Champion-Lots of Pictures from 2008

We could not be more proud of Austin this year! He has come so far in his skills and despite moving up to a tougher division with larger horses, he came out on top. Many boys drop this event after competing as PeeWee's...true, the horses do get bigger and rougher and the judging gets tougher, but Austin put his heart and soul in to it and didn't give up. A few tried to compete but ONLY Austin was able to cover his rides and rise to the top!

We attended the annual NYRA awards banquet at the Linn County Fair Grounds with my parents and friends of ours, who also have a daughter competing. It is a big celebration with many of the kids turning out to see who ranked in the top 5 for each event and who would win the coveted saddles for All Around Cowboy and All Around Cowgirl in each division (Pre-PeeWee, PeeWee, Junior and Senior). It is also the time when a new board is elected and new rules are voted on. There is a scrumptious dinner served and a silent auction. It is lots of fun and generally enjoyable. Austin has received awards for being in the top 5 for the last three years in bareback and in 2006 and 2007 for bullriding. Even having a broken collar bone last year did not keep him from placing out of the top 5. This year, however, was his year! He was the one and only placing/staying on/qualifying/kickin' butt bareback rider in the Junior Division!
Here are highlights from this year!

On John Wayne in St. Paul, Oregon

On Bay at Clark County, Washington

Molalla, Oregon with the Willamette Valley Junior Rodeo Association

On Bay at Grand Ronde, Oregon

On (or off) John Wayne at the Polk County Fair, Oregon

On Bay at the NYRA Finals in Philomath, Oregon

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Update coming soon....NYRA Awards Banquet!

Watch this space for an update and pictures...coming today (October 27)!!!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

An Awesome Finish to A Fantastic Year!

Austin is the Northwest Youth Rodeo Junior Bareback Champion for 2008!!!


We are so proud of Austin!! We had a fabulous finish in Philomath on Sunday, August 17th with Austin winning the Junior Bareback division at the NYRA finals with a score of 71 and clinching the division for the entire season!!!

Ok, after that announcement, it's time to give the full update...Austin competed in bullriding at the last Molalla rodeo. It was so hot and we knew Austin had 6 events for Sunday so he elected to just do one event. He was so close and so frustrated. He has really struggled this year in this event but does not give up. We will be attending some practices at the Oregon Junior Bullriders in Lebanon to get ready and get some pointers for the next year. I am including the last seconds of his ride on video thanks to Austin's Papa.

We had a power outage due to lightening Sunday morning so that got things off to a rocky start but we made it in time to Philomath. Austin's first event of the day was calf tying and while he has been discouraged by his size in this event, he went out and made the best of it. He was still over time but he is getting faster at putting the calf down. Austin will be practicing on our goats in the off season. This is one of the events when size can make a difference.

Originally, Austin drew John Wayne again for his bareback event but after what happened at Polk County, they decided to give him the bay horse he rode for a 76 at Clark County. Again, Austin rode this horse and made it look easy riding for a score of 71 and guarenteeing that he would win the NYRA finals buckle. Again, he held on waiting for the pick-up men but got tired and just let go. Per the stock contractor, we were told that if John Wayne was a couple of inches taller he would be a professional rodeo horse and going to the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas. He is that wiley!! We are very proud that Austin covered him this year (at Spirit Mountain 1 he rode John Wayne for a score of 59) and that he continued to get on him week after week.

Next up was chute dogging. This is another event where size can be an advantage...but perseverance helps too. Austin held on and dug in and went with his steer for over half the arena but just couldn't get him totally stopped. Lots of good effort though and he is looking forward to working on this event next year.

Austin did fine in both pole bending and barrel racing. Chazz did not break formation and had nice clean runs. Time continues to be an issue. I think though that we may have addressed that problem...more to come later in this post.

Finally, Austin had his bull ride. The bull he drew is known for being nasty in the chute and in Polk County Austin was able to get another bull as this one would not settle down even enough for him to get on. Austin got in the chute twice but after having his leg severly pinched turned down his ride. This is very unlike Austin and I believe him when he said that he did not feel okay about this ride. When they turned the bull out it went just ballistic. After the rodeo, the judge told Austin that he made a good choice. That helped.

Overall, it was a great weekend. After the rodeo on Sunday, we hung around for Austin to receive his check and his award buckle. This is the 2nd time he has won bareback at the Shriner's rodeo/NYRA final rodeo. Once as a Pee Wee and now as a Junior. I have no doubt in my mind that he would have won last year as well if he had been able to ride (his collar bone was not yet healed). Austin is looking forward to a short break and playing soccer but will be back at it again soon practicing and gearing up for the 2009 season. Next year he will be old enough to participate with the Oregon Wrangler's Division...the junior high version of Oregon High School Rodeo so look for more information about that.

Also, Austin has a new rodeo horse! After some serious scouting for the just the right horse at just the right price...we found a beautiful quarter pony that Austin has named Cooper's Legend or Cooper (named after his favorite PBR bull). He is young and green and built like a tank (only 3 years old) so he will be spending the soccer season with a trainer. The lady who owned him bought him as a yearling for barrel racing and team roping in indoor arenas but before she could get him completely broke, she found out she was expecting. His groundwork is exceptional and he has been saddled for over a year with a few rides on him but still needs a good 30 days with a professional trainer and he needs patterning. Austin will be spending a lot of time this winter and spring riding him both outdoors and at the J Bar L Ranch's indoor arena getting some miles on him and working the pattern. He won't start roping training until spring and will hopefully participate in some breakaway roping next year.

Well, we are getting sponsor packages ready to give to all of those who have made this rodeo season possible: J Bar L Ranch, Orient Electric, Gallagher Electric, Gresham Electric, Sunbelt Rentals and Mr. Billy Laird of Texas. Keep watching for updates...the NYRA banquet is coming in October, as of Saturday Austin was the point leader for Junior Bareback at the WVJRA and there are practices with the OJBRA and a bareback camp with Bobby Mote so there will be lots to talk about...not to mention our yearlings in training and Austin's new horse!

Thank you everyone for your support!!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Newport and Polk County Fair

I have so much to report on but sadly, not very many pictures.
Just Keith and Austin went to Newport on Saturday, August 2nd as Kenne and I were in Santiam for the Junior and Teen Miss Rodeo Oregon pageant. Austin participated in rough stock events only so he would not have to trailer the horses. It is difficult for just one parent to manage events and horses so this was easier for all. He was signed up for bareback riding, bull riding and chute dogging.

He drew John Wayne again...they have been going rounds all season with John Wayne currently in the lead. At Newport, John Wayne nailed Austin again, stepping on his right forearm near his elbow. Austin began screaming and yelling and they thought that perhaps his arm was broken. Thankfully, no, but it was swollen and badly bruised and is still healing and yellow today. His chute dogging was immediately after his bareback ride and with his right arm temporarily out of commission, he had no choice but to forfeit that event. He nearly covered his bull but with his arm swollen and in pain it was difficult if not impossible to hold on and maintain his balance.
One week was off to Rickreall and the Polk County Fair. Austin divided his events between the morning and afternoon performances with calf tying, bareback and pole bending in the AM and chute dogging, bull riding and barrel racing in the PM.

Calf tying was a struggle and Austin was unable to get the calf down before time was up. As frustrating as that is, I believe that it is a learning experience for him and one that only makes him try harder next time. I love that he has so much perseverance and will come back and do it again, getting better every time.

Bareback was interesting to say the least. Austin and John Wayne met out on the dirt once again and John Wayne furthered his lead. He is one wiley pony that Austin is set on mastering. When John Wayne came down, after bucking Austin off, he caught Austin's chin (and helmet strap), throat and left collar bone area with his foot. All I saw was Austin sit up, grab his chest and throat and go back down! That was almost more than I could handle. When they called out the paramedics my heart sank. He was okay though and more determined than ever to get that horse. He was pretty banged up and had a helmet and chaps full of dirt but he would live to ride another day.

With pole bending left, Austin saddled up and headed out getting a nice clean run but not the best time he's ever had. Chazz is a phenomenal horse but not much of a rodeo star.

Austin had a break before he was expected to compete so we checked out the rodeo, he downed and Advil and away we went again. His first event was chute dogging. Now, this is where he gets in the chute with a young steer and when the gate swings open, has to grab his horns, stop him and bring him down. Not a job I would choose to undertake! This was his first time ever since he was unable to at Newport. He almost had him stopped a couple of times but didn't give up until he was on the otherside of the arena. He gave his all and looks forward to trying again in Philomath this weekend.
Next came bullriding...this is just not his year for this event. Off he went landing square on his lower back. While he was happy he didn't get stepped on, he was hurting from the pounding he took on his dismount. He will be riding bulls at Molalla on Saturday and will have another go at it in Philomath on Sunday.

Finally, before we knew it, he was up for barrel racing. Again, a nice clean run but just not enough speed.

Overall, it was a long weekend but he is ready to hit it hard again for the WVJRA and NYRA finals in Molalla and Philomath. Pray for safety and that he conqures that JW! Thank you so much to Mr. Billy Laird for his very generous donation and wishes of good luck! We could not help Austin chase his dreams without support! Thank you again :)
With ordinary talent and extraordinary perseverance, all things are attainable. ~Thomas Foxwell Buxton
He flung himself upon his horse and rode madly off in all directions. ~Stephen Leacock

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Spirit Mountain 2

Wow! This season is just flying by! Literally! Another rodeo was over to Grand Ronde for this one. Austin again had a very busy Saturday competing in bareback, bullriding, calf tying, barrel racing and pole bending. Woo! I get tired just going over the list. He had bullriding first thing in the morning and that kind of threw things off. It didn't take long for the squirreley critter to launch Austin...right out of the chute! Howell Rodeo Company brought bigger bulls this time and man, were they tough! We figured out what the problem was though, Austin has been worried to tie his hand in very tight for fear of getting hung up. He has witnessed several boys get drug around the arena and pounded as a even had his femur bone cracked in half. Not something Austin is eager to experience. Dad explained to him that he won't get hung up if he single wraps tight as opposed to double wrapping. He is excited to tie in a little tighter next time and we think it will make the difference in his ability to hold on. Getting hung up on a 1000 lb. bull is serious business. Ok, just getting on the back of a 1000 lb bull is serious business!

He drew the same bay horse that he rode to a 76 in Clark County and he literally flew out of the chute. Austin held on as long as physically possible (5.87 seconds) before being launched, flipped and flopped in to the dirt. He got up fairly quickly but couldn't regain his balance and the paramedics rushed to see if he needed help. He's one tough cowboy though and soon was off to his next event.

Calf tying went better. As you can see from the pictures, the calves are nearly as big as Austin. He manged to get him over and did a perfect half hitch tie but was unfortunately over time. This is a learning experience for Austin and I fully expect that he will get better and better with each time.

Pole bending and barrel racing went great. Sure, he could have been faster but for the first time in several rodeos, Chazz and Austin did not break formation and Chazz did not have a fit at barrel 2. That was definitely improvement. I took Chazz out riding today and I don't know whether it is the rodeos or the alfalfa but he is getting hot! He is ready to roll! I told him he was sure acting young for his 18 years! He loves going to the rodeos and always has a great time whether he does good or not. Just getting out, having somewhere to go and seeing other horses does him a world of good.

Austin was going to ride in Molalla today (Sunday) but his right leg is battered from the middle of his thigh to the middle of his calf, including his knee, and with the rain decided he better just take some down time before Newport next Saturday. Next weekend, he will be doing just rough stock events at the coast (bareback, bulls and his first round of chute dogging) but Sunday he will be back in full form.

Oh, he also rode at the Linn County Wild & Wooley rodeo on Saturday, July 19 and scored a 73 on bareback. That was fantastic! It was a lot of fun and Austin is always happy for the opportunity to ride. It was his first ride in front of a standing room only crowd, but you know Austin, it didn't phase him a bit. I asked him if he liked the crowd cheering for him and he said he honestly didn't hear them. He just focused on his ride. That's my boy!
I will be out most of the week at the Santiam Canyon Stampede but will update when I return home after Austin competes in Newport (Saturday) and Molalla (Sunday).

Monday, July 14, 2008

A Very Hot Weekend in Oregon

Austin had a fantastic weekend in both Clark County and Molalla. It was a long, hot two days but worth it. On Saturday, he had 5 events!!! Of course, he had bareback and bull riding. He also used Chazz for barrel racing and pole bending and tried calf tying for the first time. It was just crazy! Let's start with calf tying...the calf was nearly as big as Austin but he managed to twist it's head back towards it's body which helped it to fall. He has been practicing his tying but using dogs and people and goats is not quite the same and took just a little too long. There was tons of effort though and he now knows what he needs to do to get it done!

Chazz was hot and tired and not as cooperative as he could have been for barrel racing and pole bending. He just loves poles but got so excited he cut the last pole and broke formation causing Austin to get a "no time." He finished the pattern anyway to remind Chazz of what he is supposed to do. As far as barrel racing, Chazz seems to have a problem with the 2nd barrel. He'll run fine and turn on the first and fly to and around the third but the second just throws him off. Saturday was no exception. Austin finished but with a "no time" in this event as well. He was frustrated but managed to get over it.

Bull riding was disappointing but not for the reasons you would imagine. After riding big bulls the last two rodeos and finally starting to get his groove, another parent complained to the stock provider and they were forced to use small (nearly Pee-Wee size) bulls on Saturday. All of the Junior boys complained and not only had a hard time riding but they didn't have very good rides either. All of the boys that rode Saturday have been doing this for quite some time (and many also ride at OJBRA) so this was a real let down. I am hoping with so much support for bigger bulls, there will be a positive change at Spirit Mountain. Austin did not cover his ride and in the picture you can even see how he went one way and the bull went the other.

On to bareback...the highlight of the day! Austin had a fantastic ride! He drew a horse that had not been bucked out yet and it was very active in the chute. This can make even the most seasoned cowboy nervous...they do not call the chute a "cowboy coffin" for nothing! Austin actually considered not riding but with some encouragement for both Tenisha and Jonathan, he hopped on and scored a whopping 76! That was the best ride he has ever had. He made it look so easy! The horse was just hoppin' and spinnin' and he stayed dead center. He even hung on after the buzzer waiting for the pick-up men to get him but they never got quite close enough for him to let go. Also, utilizing the pick up men is a learned skill and not one he has had the opportunity to try or learn yet. He will be attending Bobby Mote's bareback camp next year where he will get the opportunity to practice this very important skill. So, that about wrapped up Saturday. We came home very late, fed animals and put everyone to bed, ate dinner and crashed only to get ready to do it all again on Sunday!

Thankfully, he had fewer events at the Buckaroo grounds in Molalla. Rough stock is the first event of the day and because they run bareback and bulls so close, Austin opted out of bullriding. He would have had to jump off his horse and gear up immediately for bullriding and that can be really hard on the body. He was the only bareback rider in any division so he went right after mutton busting and a few pee wee bulls. PBR bullrider, Ross Coleman, was there helping kids and working in the arena. He grew up in Molalla and rode there and with the NYRA. He was so down to earth and was just one of the guys helping out. Many kids bombarded him with questions looking for a secret but he just wanted to be like everyone else. I'm not sure Austin even said more than hello to him when he came along to help with his bareback rigging. It's not Austin's style despite being a huge fan! Ross just told him to hold on and bare down. Austin drew a HUGE horse but with no fear hopped on and rode him right out as if he were a pony. He was docked points for riding two handed so he scored a 59. Still decent and something to be very proud of. He rides two handed only because he is such a little guy and has simply not developed the arm and hand strength necessary for fighting a 1000 lb animal. It won't be long the way he is growing before you see the right hand flying! He really seems to have hit his stride in this event and it is shaping up to be just AWESOME!

He also ran barrels and poles with Chazzy and would have had an awesome time on poles if Chazz hadn't got so excited again. He'll just have to keep at it. But in barrels, Chazz ran his fastest time...just over 26 seconds. They can average anywhere between 18 and 24 seconds so he is really doing well. He has cut over 5 seconds off his time in about 4 weeks. That is amazing! I expect to see continued improvement here as well.

Wow! That was a long post for sure. On the home front we would like to thank Jack Gallagher of Gallagher Electric for his continued support of Austin. He has made the opportunity to perform at Molalla with the WVJRA possible and we greatly appreciate it. If you click on their name under sponsors, you can visit their website and get all the information about the business and all they do. Thank you again, Gallagher Electric!

Austin, his dad and Papa attended the Molalla Buckeroo on the 4th of July and had a wonderful time courtesy of Sunbelt Rentals. It's always fun to watch the pros match their strength and wits against the beast.

Austin has 2 weeks off until the next rodeo on Saturday, July 26th (10am) at Spirit Mountain in Grand Ronde, Oregon where he will be competing in bareback, bull riding, barrel racing, pole bending and calf tying. It should be an awesome day! On Sunday, July 27th (12 noon), he will again be at the Buckeroo grounds in Molalla participating in bareback, barrel racing and pole bending. We would love to see you there!

Watch for details coming up regarding a benefit rodeo for Kennedy (Austin's sister) on Saturday, September 6 in Molalla. We plan to have junior rough stock events and Austin will be riding! More information should be available soon.
Don't aim for success if you want it; just do what you love and believe in, and it will come naturally. ~David Frost

Sucess seems to be largely a matter of hanging on after others have let go. ~William Feather
You can't go through life quitting everything. If you're going to achieve anything, you've got to stick with something. ~From the television show Family Matters