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Hernias, home runs, and hard labor

8/11/2009

Cowboy Christmas is a time of year that I have come to love; everyone is trying to rodeo like crazy. The rodeos are full of contestants, and cowboys are out to either qualify for the National Finals Rodeo or go home to wait 'til next year. I've personally spent the last 12 years working the Rodeo of the Ozarks in Springdale, Ark., and made lots of friends and played tons of golf.

I was lucky enough to be invited to play in a golf tournament in Frisco, Tex., at Stonebriar Country Club where I had a blast! I started out playing great 'til we get to the 7th hole, which just happens to be the longest drive hole. This is where I swing so hard trying to crush the ball that I think I pulled a hernia. It's like trying to hit a home run: When you try to, it never happens!

We have an annual putt-putt golf tournament every year in Springdale and the loser always has something embarrassing to do during the rodeo. This year both pick-up men (Jason Bottoms and Shaun Calhoun) finished last and had to ride the mechanical bull — all I can say is it's a great thing Jason is an awesome pick-up man. We just happened to get a picture of Jason falling off on his head with his feet straight up in the air. Somehow, the photo made it to the big replay screen at the rodeo and got shown to all 7,000 fans while Boyd Polhamus made fun of him.

The Boys

For those of you who'd like a little update on some of the guys — World Champ J.W. Harris, Ted Bert, and Chance Smart — I do have a few stories.

J.W. was 90 or more on five out of seven bulls in a row and made about $25K over the Fourth.

Chance, on the other hand, had done well at one rodeo but also got knocked out again in Cody, Wyo. The bull jerked Chance down on the bull's head, hitting Chance so hard it knocked his helmet off. Chance then had to get some stitches to the back of his head where the bull hit him with a horn.

Ted Bert has pulled his brace off after a dislocated elbow and started riding like the old Ted! That a boy, Teddy!

Congratulations to Corey Navarre for having a great Fourth of July, winning around $25K in four days and making his trip back to National Finals a step closer.

Those of you that would like to know what it's really like to be a PRCA bull rider should know it's not always glamorous. Tate Stratton, 11th in the PRCA World Standings, hurt his knee getting off a bull in Gladewater, Texas. He has since had to take a 10-day break (like the 15-day disabled list in Major League Baseball) to give himself time to heal. Tate doesn't make money if he is not riding, so in order for Tate to make money, he worked on the labor list at various rodeos.

Working on the labor list requires you to get up every morning at 6 p.m. and feed every animal there for the rodeo, sort off the stock that will be used that night, work the rodeo loading all the stock, then feed all the stock before you get to bed about midnight., and sleep in your truck. You want to be a bull rider? Tate Stratton is one of the best bull riders in the world and he wants to make the famous Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. It's tough and the guys pay a great price to try to achieve the title World Champion!

-Clay Collins

To read Clay's previous blog, 'Begging for some action,' click here.