Roger Thompson: Horsin’ Around 7-25-11
Fort Collins, Colo.
I hate to admit it, but there was another birthday for me on the 4th of July. I was about 5-years-old when I realized that the United States of America was not celebrating my birthday. I thought I was special because the whole family took time to get together with cake, fireworks and party for me. As I grew up and realized we, as a nation, were celebrating the birthday of the beginning of our country, I then began to understand what our country was all about.
But as a young man there were things I had to do. I loved rodeo and every 4th of July there were many rodeos to go and compete in. I loved riding broncs and bulls. I wanted to learn how to rope but we were not that well off and couldn’t afford a good roping horse or a trailer and truck to pull it. I was doing good to dig up entree fees of $10 or $15 to enter, but I loved the sport and made do else where to enter.
I was about to join the Marine corps when my mother, who was always afraid I would get hurt, called me and told me about a college at Arlington, Texas, that would accept me. They were a branch of Texas A&M and I could make the rodeo team. I didn’t know how I could afford the tuition so she told me that since I was only 18 and my father had died due to injuries in the First World War, there was a fund where the government would pay for my education.
God Bless my mother, like most mothers she was always looking out for me so when she called the afternoon before I was to go down and sign up for the marines. It was a full military college and I could get on the rodeo team. That was the change in my life. I could rodeo in college all winter and then all summer too. The 4th of July was special; there were rodeos all over Texas on this day. I could either enter in several or enter a couple of times in one.
Trouble was that my mother would not come to watch me ride. But one 4th of July she and my stepfather came up to the college where I was attending for my birthday. I was entered in a rodeo and talked them into going to watch me ride. It was a big rodeo and I was entered first in the bareback riding contest and was excited that she had come to watch. I made a fantastic ride, winning first place.
When I walked up into the stands and asked her what she thought of my riding now, she just looked up at me and said, “I don’t know, when you came out I covered my eyes and didn’t watch.” I knew that that would be the last time I would ever ask her to come to a rodeo when I was riding. But I continued to compete and cowboy the rest of my life.
Oh, I worked a real job to support my family but kept competing one way or another because I loved it so.
Prior to his retirement, Roger Thompson was a CHA certified instructor of advanced Western horsemanship and beginning English riding.