In Sept. 1963, at age 9, I participated in my first rodeo, a National Little Britches Rodeo Association event. My brother, Tec, 12, and cousins Bob and Ray Tescher, 11 and 10, respectively, and I entered the bareback riding, which featured Shetland Ponies, and the steer riding, which had yearling Herefords and Scotch Highlanders. Ted, Bob and Ray also were in the saddle-bronc event, riding the bigger broncs.

Since my dad, Tom, was competing at the Omaha, Nebraska, rodeo that same weekend, Uncle Alvin Tescher, Bob and Ray’s dad, had been recruited as coach and manager for the 11 upcoming Tescher family rides. I remember him showing me how to pull the leather palm of my riding glove as much as possible through the bareback rigging’s handhold for a better grip.

Between the four riders, we shared one pair of spurs! As soon as one of us finished our ride, two others attacked his feet for the spurs, which the next rider needed. After one ride, I remember sitting on the ground, both feet in front of me, as Uncle Alvin and a cousin hastily robbed the spurs right off my boots.

My mother, Lorraine, and my aunt, Betty, laughed their hearts out from the bleachers as the whole show went on.

Bob won the bareback riding on a pinto pony named Danny Boy. Bob and Ray placed second and third, respectively, in the saddle-bronc riding. Ray’s bronc had made a big circle to the right, and his single-rigged saddle slipped over to the left side. We couldn’t see Ray, and he realized it, so he waved his free hand up high above the saddle so the judges wouldn’t think he’d double-grabbed and disqualify him. I remember Uncle Alvin laughing at that.

Ted was tossed from his saddle bronc and hung a foot in the stirrup. He was dragged by the horse and knocked out briefly. When he started coming back to reality, the first thing he remembers is Uncle Alvin telling Mom through the fence, “He’s Okay.”At the same time, the bandits were stripping the spurs from his feet!

Ray won first in the steer riding on a slow, bellering, bawling steer that almost stopped as the whistle blew. Ray even looked back toward the chutes about halfway through the ride, just to see what was happening. He was the only one to ride his steer to the buzzer that day. Ted placed third in the steer riding for riding his draw the third-longest distance.

As I got on my steer, I remember being in a kind of trance. Someone asked, “Are you ready?”and Uncle Alvin said, “Sure, he’s ready.”As the gate came open, and the steer jumped out of the chute, my stiff legs flew up and out in front of me, tipping me way back. For two or three jumps my spurs kept landing on top of that steer’s neck – before I was flipped into the air. I recall Uncle Alvin laughing again.

With a total of five or six jumps aboard the pony and steer combined, I wonder how badly I really needed those spurs!

The next day, however, my brother said, “Boy, I’m sore today. But yesterday was a lot of fun! And I can’t wait to do it again!”

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