I attended the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame induction, Nov. 1st, which is a ‘must go’ every year. Those that attend and the inductees are such a delight, as are the beautifully decorated tables that fill the ballroom at Will Rogers Center in Fort Worth. Although I can’t think of one candidate that was not worthy of induction in all the years I have been attending, this year was outstanding.
I was extremely impressed with them all, however this year the Hall has gone international. Does this mean they will have to change their name? Dr. Angelika Trabert from Germany was inducted. Born with no legs and only three fingers on one hand she became an outstanding horsewoman having started with equitherapy and a lifelong love of horses. She has competed in six World Championships, five European Championships and five Paralympic Games, winning 26 medals. Her wins and honors are vast, but additionally she is an anesthesiologist. She is a humanitarian and went to Guinea, West Africa and started Sundjata, a nonprofit humanitarian organization for handicapped children in Guinea.
Camilla Naprous, performs with her family’s stunt team, The Devil’s Horsemen. She rode Roman style on her ponies in front of ten thousand people in Wembley Arena in London when only eight years old. She and her family provide horses, carriages, tack, riders and horsemasters to international films, television programs and more. She has trained many actors and actresses in horsemanship. She has served as horsemaster on the acclaimed HBO series Game of Thrones. She also writes and choreographs live performances at their equestrian theatre in England.
Caroline Lockhart (deceased) was a journalist, homesteader and cattle queen. Born in 1871 she grew up to be a female reporter for a Boston newspaper and provided expose’s and profiles, including Buffalo Bill. In 1904 she was in Montana, writing about the Blackfoot Indians, and decided to move there. She became friends with Buffalo Bill and many Westerners. She purchased the Cody Enterprise newspaper, co-founded the Cody Stampede rodeo, and later went to her homestead the L Slash Heart Ranch in the Pryor Mountains of Montana which grew to 6,000 acres and marketed her steers in Omaha. She died in 1962.
Sherry Cervi, a competitive cowgirl that made her mark in barrel racing. She joined the Womens Professional Rodeo Association when she was twelve and began rodeoing professionally, as did her mother before her. She qualified for the National Finals Rodeo at nineteen and won Reserve World Championship and became the World Champion in 1995. She won her second World title in 1999. She is the highest earning barrel racer in the history of the sport having won over $3 million dollars in 2016. She has formed the Sherry Cervi Youth Championships which holds annual youth barrel races in California, Arizona and Minnesota. Sherry admits much of her barrel racing success has been because of the outstanding horses that she partnered with during her career.
Diane Scalese is an engraver of spurs, bridle bits, buckles, conchas and firearms in steel, silver, gold, brass and platinum. She attended Montana State University as an art major and started Sweetwater Silversmith in 1986. She studied engraving from vintage western tack and decided to make the engraving the focus of each piece and improved on it. She has taught engraving and done many demonstrations across the world. She was the Academy of Western Artists Engraver of the Year in 2003.
Kathleen Moody received the Mary Jane Colter Award. She rode her first horse at four and found she enjoyed drawing horses. She received her first Breyer horse at seven, starting a collection of model horses that inspired her to become a model horse creator. She has done many one-of-a-kind model horses for customers. She worked for Walt Disney Studios, and began sculpting her own original horses. Since then she has branched out on her own and eventually worked with Breyer. Moody’s pieces offer a positive influence to young women spreading confidence and joy through the power of positive play.
Brooke Wharton received the Mitzi Lucas Riley Award. Wharton is 6thgeneration of the W. T. Waggoner family and has horses in her blood. Her family history was totally involved with cattle and horses. In 2013 she became assistant manager of the Waggoner Ranch overseeing breeding, training and beyond. However her most fascinating experience was competing in the Mongol Derby, an equestrian endurance race. Riding semi-wild horses, the course is different each year but extends 600+ miles across Mongolia in varying terrain. Wharton tied for 6th, out of 42 international riders, making her the first American and tied as the first woman to cross the finish line that year. There is no wonder why the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame attracts so many to their Induction Ceremony with such amazing inductees.
A week later was the Rodeo Historical Society Rodeo Hall of Fame Weekend at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, and of course, I was there. Two days of activities in this amazing museum that has captured the essence of the west from it’s inductees, to the art and collections of memorabilia of rodeo and the western world. The candidates that are picked to be on the ballot each year are voted on by the membership of the Rodeo Historical Society.
Those inducted this year were: Bobby Berger, of Pearsall, TX, a roughstock rider that is one of only three cowboys who have qualified for the PRCA National Finals rodeo in all three roughstock events – bareback riding, saddle bronc riding and bull riding. He qualified for 13 National Finals Rodeos and was the Saddle Bronc Champion in 1977 and 1979. He also won the Bull Riding Average in 1969 and 1971 and the Saddle Bronc Average in 1980.
Derek Clark, is a fourth generation rodeo competitor that went to the National Finals 15 years in Saddle Bronc Riding. He won Reserve Champion in 1990, and won various Circuit Finals and various Series Finals too many times to list. He also served on the PRCA Board of Directors from 1998 to 2005, resigning only when he suffered a serious injury serving as a pickup man.
Steve Duhon grew up knowing how to ride and started competing in high school. He also played football at LSU and was a skilled athlete. However, he gave up the opportunity to play football to rodeo. He competed in all timed events but steer wrestling was his best event. He was the Steer Wrestling Rookie of the Year in 1985. He won the Steer Wrestling World Championship in 1986, 1987 and 1993. He qualified for the NFR eight times. He set an NFR record steer wrestling time with a run of three-seconds flat in 1986, that has been tied, but never surpassed.
Bill Duvall was a steer wrestling horse trainer par excellence. He also was a steer wrestler and a hazer. He helped many steer wrestlers win the world by riding the horses he had trained. He and brother Roy held many steer wrestling schools to help young cowboys get started. They also established the Duvall Steer Wrestling Jackpot at Checotah, OK.
Jim Bob Feller was a rodeo clown for 51 years, so far. He is still clowning at the famous Mesquite (TX) Rodeo most weekends. He was the barrelman for the Wrangler Bullfight Finals in 1991, '98 and ’99. He also worked the Ram National Circuit Finals in 1993, and the Texas and Turquoise Circuit Finals numerous times. He worked many different rodeos but Sidney, Iowa; Albuquerque, NM; and Tucson, AZ he worked many years.
John W. Jones, Jr. followed in his father’s footsteps in rodeo. He was the 1981 Overall Rookie of the Year for PRCA, and his dad had been the 1956 Rookie of the Year. He qualified for the NFR ten times in steer wrestling winning the average in 1998 and the Championship in 1984, '88 and '89. His dad had won the World title in 1970. He also competed in all timed events throughout his career.
Two deceased inductees were honored: James Cathey, a photojournalist that was instrumental in helping the Girls Rodeo Association get started and was their photographer, and their first public relations person starting their magazine Powder Puff and Spurs, which helped to spread the word of their new organization across the U.S. He also was considered a premier rodeo photojournalist for High School and National Intercollegiate Rodeo Associations in their earliest stages. His family has donated his entire body of work to the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. Cathey died in 1978.
Lester A “Les” Gore, from Montana, won the Amateur Bronc Riding at Cheyenne Frontier Days in 1946. He won the Bareback Riding and Steer Wrestling at an RCA rodeo in Las Vegas. Gore won events at many of the top rodeos in the country during his era. At one point he scored on 73 bulls in a row. He qualified for the National Finals in 1963 and again in 1965. He was instrumental in helping form the National Old Timer Rodeo Association, now called the Senior Pro Rodeo Association. He won the National Bareback and All-Around titles before retiring at the age of 64 in the Senior Pro group.
Elaine Agather, a banker for JP Morgan Chase, was the recipient of the Tad Lucas Memorial Award. Tad was a trend setter and a cowgirl respected by all her peers in the “Golden Age of Rodeo”. Elaine holds that same respect and is on the Board of the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame and helped raise funds to build their building in Fort Worth. She is also on the Board of the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo and has ridden in the Grand Entry every year but one since 1992, which is over 900 times. She also is considered the Best Dressed Cowgirl in the Fort Worth-Dallas area during rodeo time with her vintage (Nudie-style) and elegant western clothes with lots of sparkles and bling.
The Ben Johnson Memorial Award was presented to Clyde Frost, a rodeo contestant born in Colorado that competed in all events and won some All-Around honors, but went to the first National Finals Rodeo in 1959 in the bareback riding event. He went to five National Finals Rodeos in bareback riding and two in Saddle Bronc Riding. Since their son, Lane Frost’s death, they have given thousands of Bibles in his name to organizations and individuals. They have also been responsible for several scholarships that are given in his name.
The next direction I’m headed is to the PRCA National Final Rodeo in Las Vegas, December 6th through the 15th. It is ten nights of action from the top fifteen cowboys and cowgirls in the following events: Bareback Riding; Steer Wrestling, Saddle Bronc Riding; Team Roping; Tie Down Roping; Barrel Racing; and Bull Riding. It is always amazing to watch the ‘cream of the crop’ perform. There are very few mistakes, but they do happen from time to time.
These contestants have labored all year to get to this ‘Super Bowl’ of rodeo and have put thousands of miles on their vehicles, or in the air, and some have hauled their equine partners down just as many miles. They have made sacrifices all year long to be one of the top fifteen in their events and their families have made just as many sacrifices. They have missed birthdays and anniversaries for those loved ones. And often when finally getting to get a few hours of rest and hopefully sleep they know how much they miss their families back home. Some have sustained injuries that should have taken them out of the ‘game’ but they refused to quit, in spite of pain, or worse. December 15thwill tell the tale and reveal the 2018 Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association World Champions in each event. There will be some unexpected losses and some surprising wins. But regardless of the outcome few will quit going down the rodeo road next year. It is in their blood to keep trying to win that elusive gold buckle. They just know next year they will ride better or have a better timed event time. Their adrenalin flows when they are competing and it is a feeling like no other. GOOD LUCK TO THE COWBOYS & COWGIRLS THAT HAVE CHOSEN THIS WESTERN WAY OF LIFE AND HAVE SUCCEEDED IN BEING THE TOP OF THE 2018 CROP!!