Fort Collins, Colo.
I met her, a number of years ago; she was my preacher’s daughter. A very pretty little girl with a lot of growing up ahead in her life. I raised four girls so I was concerned about what was ahead in the life of this little girl and my Pastor, Rick, and wife, Julie Carlson. Concerned because of the old saying about Preacher’s kids and the devilment they get into and heart ache they can cause their parents.
This is not just an “Old Wives Tail”, and though I am not proud of it, I have been a part of this heartache in the past. I didn’t want to see this happen to that family, but sometimes it is better for an old man to just keep his mouth closed, as folks don’t often understand that you are coming from the heart with the things you say.
As with time, I lost track of this beautiful little girl and got on with my life, becoming very active in the Fellowship of Christian Cowboys helping with Rodeo Bible Camps. One summer, a number of years back at the Greeley camp I was instructing the roping event. Most of the kids did not even know how to swing the rope so we began roping hay bales.
One little girl was trying to swing left handed and suddenly I realized I could not help her. I can’t even swing a rope left handed, much less throw a good loop that way. I was totally at a loss so asked the assistants to work with her on a hay bale while I attempted to get some help.
About an hour later, the boys came in and said the girl could do well with her right arm, so I went out to take a look and she was roping so well I began giving her pointers. By the end of camp, she was roping everything we ran out.
It wasn’t until the awards when I read her name and saw her folks at the dinner I realized it was Kristel Carlson, my pastor’s daughter. She had grown so much and was so good with horses, I hadn’t recognized her. Everything I asked her to do, she attempted with total enthusiasm.
When Kristel came back, the next year she was better than before and I did my best to work with her. Then I lost track of this girl for a time. Oh, I talked with her mother, Julie, from time to time and even tried to find them a good horse she could compete with in High School competition. However, most everything I found was way over priced for a Preacher’s family.
A while back, I saw Kristel at a local show and had some time to visit with her. She told me she was attending Laramie County Community College in Cheyenne and studying in the horse program. She was riding a two- year- old, she called “Bo”, and I could tell he wasn’t sure about everything going on at a horse show.
She told me that she brought the horse to give him a little more experience. I understood this very well but was worried about her. Kristel was handling him like a professional but when she rode in to run barrels, he dropped his head and started bucking. Watching her seat leave the saddle, and thinking she couldn’t hear me, I boomed out, “Pull his head around!” anyway.
She did, and was able to finish the barrel pattern, it wasn’t pretty but they completed the pattern. Later she told me that she could hear me clear across the arena. I took a moment to thank my Lord for letting me develop that booming sergeant’s voice in the military.
But what I saw was a young girl with a lot of heart and dedication which made me proud of her and I know her folks are proud. I have visited with Kristel a number of times and she told me that when she finishes the two years at LCCC, she plans to attend CSU and major in business. I agreed this was a good venture because so many young people think a degree in horsemanship will make them a living. I tell them they need a good job that will pay the bills for working with horses, not an $8.00/hr job for shoveling manure.
Kristel has served an internship this summer with Steve Swartzenberger’s Reining Ranch in Longmont. They took her to the “Summer Slide” on a horse called B.C. This was the first reining she had ever been to and completed a correct pattern for a score of 130 1/2 points. Not enough to win but the experience was worth a million.
I just hope she goes on with her dreams and does well. I love happy endings, don’t you?
Roger Thompson is a CHA certified instructor of advanced Western horsemanship and beginning English riding.
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