A Tri-State Stetson salute | TSLN.com

A Tri-State Stetson salute

I’d like to start this week’s visit with a tip of our ol’ Tri-State Stetson to a longtime friend and hero of mine, Kent Sturman; a Lusk, Wyoming native who’s been working with the National High School Rodeo Association for two decades, and is their Executive Director down in Denver, Colorado, since 1990.

He’s recently been elected to the Board of Directors for the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame (CSHoF), which has a mission dear to Kent’s heart. Not only does CSHoF honor excellence, leadership and accomplishment in sports, but it also seeks to build and make available programs and support for Colorado youth, cultivating character and citizenship to promote leadership.

Kent is the first CSHoF Board member from the world of rodeo, and says he hopes to utilize the opportunity “to increase the general awareness of the sport of rodeo as a whole.” Kent continues, “Rodeo has brought me so much joy over the years and I hope to share that experience and work on behalf of the sport during my time on this Board… I am really excited to help out in any way possible while continuing my overall goal in promoting excellence in all sporting activities.”

Congratulations, Kent, on another life accomplishment, and on your continuing devotion of time and talent to help others – we’re very proud of you!

Someone else I’d like to salute this week is Gary Gist, founder and president of Gist Silversmiths in California. They’re probably the best known trophy buckle manufacturers in the world, having perfected the art over four decades, with this year marking their 40th Anniversary. Many of us are privileged to wear Gist buckles and it’s quite fitting that this should be the year for Gary Gist to be honored for excellence in Western Wear and Equipment through the American Cowboy Culture Awards at the National Cowboy Symposium & Celebration in Lubbock, Texas, next September 4-7. Those impressive awards are highly coveted, and I tip the ol’ Tri-State Stetson to Gary as a deserving recipient. We look forward to being there when the award is presented to him.

Another tip of our ol’ Tri-State Stetson goes to my favorite regional author, John L. Moore out of the Miles City, Montana country. John’s writing style captured my fancy when he was writing articles for TSLN many, many years ago. Then he authored a great book, THE BREAKING OF EZRA RILEY which totally entrenched me into his fan club. Since then he’s produced two other legs to the Ezra Riley trilogy, LEAVING THE LAND and THE LIMITS OF MERCY. John’s also a rancher and lay minister, and I was tickled pink to find an article from his pen in the July edition of America’s Horse, the monthly trade magazine for members of the American Quarter Horse Association.

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Interestingly, John’s good article is on “cowboy etiquette” – those unwritten laws of the range that we were reared with but newcomers to the horse world seem to be totally unaware of. You’ll find it a good read… or one you wish others would’ve read before they came out to your ranch to “lend a hand.”

This seems to be the week for passin’ out kudos, and I surely can’t overlook my own cowboy who was honored, along with several others, at the Round Up Grounds in Belle Fourche as “50-Year-Ago Champions” of the South Dakota High School Rodeo Finals. In 1958 Bill Stearns picked up the championships for bronc riding, bulldogging and All Around Cowboy at the SD Finals, and he was tickled to visit with several there last Sunday whom he hadn’t seen since the National High School Rodeo of 1958 at Sulphur, Louisiana!

In addition to my cowboy, those on hand Sunday included ’58 Breakaway Roping Champ Marjorie Blair; ’58 pole bending and All Around Cowgirl Champ Suzanne Bartell; ’58 Bull Riding Champ Ben Kringen; ’58 Bareback Bronc Champ Ed Buckholz and ’58 Calf Roping Champ Don Phillips. The afternoon’s competition selected the 2008 competitors who’ll journey to Farmington, New Mexico to represent South Dakota in the 60th Annual National High School Finals Rodeo (NHSFR) July 17th through 26th. We tip our ol’ Tri-State Stetson to the Golden Anniversary Champs; the 40-Year-Ago Champs who were also honored in Belle on Sunday; and to the 2008 Champs, as we wish them all the best of luck in Farmington, hopin’ they bring home a lot of titles and loot.

My own hometown is pretty proud of Crystal Hershey who’ll be representin’ Newcastle, Wyoming, as the Wyoming Barrel Racing Champion at that 60th Annual NHSFR down in Farmington, too. Congratulations and good luck, Crystal… just keep cool an’ ride like you’re in the practice pen, and you’ll do great!

Along with the joy and good wishes, I have to share a bit of bad news from the Wyoming High School Rodeo Finals with you. Young Tori Bonham, a granddaughter from Cheyenne, Wyoming’s well-known Peavey/Bonham horse and cattle ranching family, was kicked in the face by her breakaway rope horse at the Finals in Douglas, Wyoming, on Sunday. She was taken to Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland, Colorado with a number of broken bones in her face – jaws, mouth, nose, sinuses, etc. The family does not have medical insurance, so the Wyoming High School Rodeo Association sent them on their way to Colorado with some money from their Cowboy Crisis Fund.

Beyond that, Teri Griffin of Gillette, Wyoming has set up an account where contributions to Tori’s medical fund can be sent. That would be % First National Bank; P.O. Box 3002; Gillette, WY.

You can contact Tori, or check on her medical progress at http://www.carepages.com. Just go to the page toribonham.” She’d love to hear from you; and the family deeply appreciates all prayers and support at this difficult time. Word is the surgery was very successful, and Tori might possibly go home by Thursday, July 3rd.

Speaking of the giving spirit and tradition of helping others that exists across the ranch country of the West – I understand the benefit Silent Auction for horseman Gideon Lucey, which was held last Sunday at a Ranch Horse event in Rapid City, brought in some $2,700 to assist with his medical expenses. Thanks to all the generous folk who made that possible; and best wishes to Gideon as he recovers from his horse accident.

And speakin’ of horse accidents… were you as disappointed as I was when Big Brown didn’t win the Belmont? And were you as baffled about the reason?

Now a wonderful link from The Blood Horse online features a series of excellent photos, by several different photographers, which show how his hind foot was stepped on and his shoe was pulled half off in the opening strides of the race. It proves what a wise and good jockey Kent Desourmeaux truly is, and why the great horse just wasn’t able to run as he wanted to in the Belmont. You’ll be gratified to find an explanation – as I was. Just go to http://gallery.bloodhorse.com/SlideShow/default.aspx?gallery=BigBrownShoe and check it out.

Looks like we’re plumb to the end of this ol’ lariat rope once more… if we all survive Cowboy Christmas I’ll see ya’ here next week…

© 2008 Rhonda Stearns

Email Rhonda at cow_grl63@hotmail.com