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Open Range: Drugs and cowboys are not a good mix

Published on August 8, 2017 2:42PM


Just wrapped up a great week. Chief Joseph Days rodeo and a house full of people. My grandkids have been threatening to come for a visit and followed through on the threat.

Three beautiful girls, one 17 and two 18 and one boy 17 with his friend. This was their first rodeo, and they didn’t miss a performance. As if having five teenagers around wasn’t enough, I got a call from a cowboy from California wanting a place to stay for him, three other cowboys and four horses.

Young girls and rodeo cowboys, what could go wrong? Having nine extras made things busy, but we all had a ball. I wisely refrained from telling my two sons and daughter their children would be bunking with four rodeo cowboys guessing they would veto the whole trip. Everything worked out, and two of the cowboys placed in the team roping, winning almost $1,600 each. The cowboys left for other rodeos on Thursday giving my wife time off from monitoring the girls.

I have always thought that if you can raise your kids without them making some irreversible mistake, you have done a good job. There are two things that do worry me about young people –– drugs and texting while driving. These are things I never had to deal with when I was young.

There were no drugs around, and you were lucky if to have had a land line. If you did talk on the phone, there was usually a parent around eavesdropping on the conversation. While the cowboys were here, we discussed drugs and why a few of the PRCA cowboys we knew had succumbed to dabbling in them. Some of them to the point their rodeo careers languished and died.

When I asked them why those guys had gone down the wrong road, they agreed it was too much down time between rodeos, and if you won, you celebrated. If you lost you took drugs to feel better. All agreed this was a lame excuse.

Marijuana, now legal, is thought to be a harmless drug. Maybe for some people; however, we discussed a cowboy we all knew that smokes a lot of weed, and now that’s all he does. He could rope with the best of them. His dad supplied him with good horses, and his mother supplied airline tickets, a credit card and a new pickup with a Bloomer living quarters trailer.

He went to the finals several times and was always in the top 15. He lost interest in all this and now sparks one up for breakfast and then stays with it. I guess staying high is one way to get through the day. Helps you forget you accomplished nothing yesterday, and today doesn’t show much promise either. Kind of a shame though.

The Stock Growers Ranch Rodeo is Aug. 19 at the fairgrounds arena. This is a chance for everyone to watch local cowboys compete in several ranch type events. I encourage all to attend for a great time.

I am pleased to see so many ranch cowboys enter these events. I found that by competing, I sharpened my roping skills and horsemanship. When you compete, you are not just completing a task, your focus is sharpened and you try to do things more accurately and quickly.

Your horsemanship becomes increasingly important, and the horse you ride and the training you have put into him are critical. Competition forces improvement, if you have any interest in winning. When practicing events like team roping, it is necessary to make every run count. One or two aspects of each run should be worked on, and every run should have a purpose. Otherwise you are just making dust.

Once again Fred Steen’s timed event crew at Chief Joseph Day has won the coveted award of prettiest crew. Thanks to Abby, Rya, Hannah and Brianna. Hard to believe girls this pretty can be so handy. Dan Ackley and all the rodeo judges totally appreciate their hard work. Fred does know how to audition for talent.

Barrie Qualle is an all-around working ranch hand, author and ranch rodeo enthusiast. He lives in Wallowa County.



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