Calf ropers are a peculiar group of talented cowboys. I would characterize them as more serious about their work than most. They have hobbies like small appliance repair and breeding orchids. Their calling seems to draw more of the accountant/engineering sort of mentality. Dean Oliver, Tom Ferguson, Dee Pickett, Mike Johnson and Cody Ohl are representative. They are modest, focused, hard working and responsible.
Of course, every now and then there’s a Roy Cooper or Joe Beaver that crashes the party, but in every bunch of good hardworking border collies, there’s always a couple that chase cars!
Calf ropers have a pretty good career longevity compared to say… bull doggers and bareback men.
Chad told me of his conversation with one of our old timer rodeo friends. Chad noted the old timer’s son was entering the Pendleton Rodeo this year in the calf roping. The dad kinda snorted and said, “He’s pressin’ his luck, he’s nearly 50 years old!”
“Wait a minute,” said Chad, “You were fifty-six the last time you entered the saddle bronc and that was in Bronc years!”
Bronc years is a measure of time like ‘dog years’. A dog year is equivalent to 7 human years. A bronc year is equivalent to 2 roper years. In other words, a roper of any kind should be able to compete in rodeo twice as long as a rough stock rider.
This is demonstrated when you look at the last fifty years of the top rodeo cowboy career earnings. For every one rough stock rider there are two ropers. The first steer wrestler doesn’t show up til #24.
As expected, ropers think that’s only fair. When they show up to play they’re pulling their three horse slant with live-in quarters, a groom, monster truck, enough gear to outfit the re-enactment of the Alamo, several hundred feet of rope in 32′ pieces, a laptop, a satellite TV, XM radio and a roping dummy. They camp overnight, do their deltoid presses and go to bed in their jammys.
Whereas, their counterparts, the rough stock riders arrive on bronc time, during the Grand Entry, with a riggin’ in their war bag along with two miles of bandage tape, an exercise video of Dancing with the Stars, and a dirty shirt.
So, according to bronc time, if our old timer friend rode rough stock when he was fifty-six, his genetically prone son could still be entering Pendleton in 2046! Then he could switch to roping steers or barrel racing and go for another ten. Or retire and become an investor… like Chad.
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Jill Rigler is not your average 17 year old.