I was born a rodeo kid, I married a rodeo guy and I am the proud mom of two rodeo cowboys.
I believe that there is the life you are born into, and then later, the life you choose. Lots of people choose the life they were born into, but some don’t. Some contestants in our rodeo family didn’t inherit a ‘ticket’ into the rodeo lifestyle via birthright. I am particularly intrigued by these people. These people have chosen a way of life very different from what they have always known.
Over the next few days, I am going to share some stories about real people who influenced the creation of my main character Cody. I think that there are tons of kids out there who are just aching to live their rodeo dreams. I hope my book encourages them to do just that. As well, I hope this blog post reminds us to help them if we can.
Is there a Cody in your life? Probably.
My dad’s name is Barry Black. He lives between High River and Okotoks. He has raised a family and built a successful career in real-estate over the past 40 years. Dad is one of the best horsemen I know. He has trained some outstanding horses, and has forgotten more about horses than most people will ever know. He is a skilled roper and we are so proud of all he has accomplished in the arena.
Some people would be surprised to know that my Dad was born and raised in the city of Calgary, close to where the Chinook Center Mall stands today.
Dad always wanted to be a cowboy. If you ask him, he can’t really explain exactly why he felt that the rodeo-life was the life for him.
“I don’t know…I just did.” is his answer. (A gripping response…thanks Dad).
Perhaps part of it was his proximity to the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth? The Calgary Stampede grounds were literally just down the street from his childhood home. As a little kid, he poured over stories of Pete Knight, Guy Weadick and Roy Rogers.
My grandparents were both very busy professionals in the city, and although they somewhat supported his ‘rodeo-dreams’, they did not fully understand them. When my Dad was about 11 years old, my grandfather bought him a saddle horse which they boarded in a small field beside the local dump on the outskirts of Calgary. Throughout his youth Dad found ways to work for area ranchers (within riding distance) to help them move cattle and do odd jobs. As word got out that there was an enthusiastic young man who was willing to work for cheap (mostly free) he was able to ride more and more. It was in the saddle that my Dad was his happiest.
Down the street from my dad lived a veterinarian by the name of Dr. Don Moore (Founder: Moore and Co.). Dr. Moore would pick Dad up and take him with him to work. In exchange for some help around the clinic, Dr. Moore taught my dad valuable lessons in the care and treatment of animals. Dad has always been grateful for the lessons he learned.
Dad did whatever he could to get himself into the rodeo game. He tells stories of riding steers at the Calgary Stampede, youth rodeos and High School Rodeos at Simon’s Valley Ranch. I found it so funny when he told me that bought his first rope at Simpson Sears! He even tried his hand at wild Horse Racing (photo above).
More than anything, Dad dreamt of being a tie-down roper.
Fortune smiled on him when a young cowboy by the name of Lorne Wells said, “So, I hear you want to learn to rope?”
These words changed the course of my Dad’s life and Lorne was one of his most influential mentors. When I think of Lorne Wells, I think of him as a great guy who took the time to teach a kid from the city to rope. This seemingly simple gesture created a ripple effect, which positively impacted the life of a young boy and later the lives of his future family.
My Dad had grit. Even as a little boy, he was tenacious and committed. He set his eyes on a destination and never deviated from his goals. Against all odds, he found opportunities to create a reality in which he could live his happiest, most authentic life. He decided who he wanted to be, and what he wanted to do, and didn’t let anyone or anything stop him from getting there. I am so proud of him.
So you see, my Dad…is Cody.
** *The late Lorne Wells won an incredible 8 Canadian Championship titles in the tie-down roping. He was a Hall of Fame inductee and won countless other honors. For information about Lorne and other great Canadian rodeo cowboys, cowgirls and animals visit the Canadian Professional Rodeo Hall of Fame website.