Cowboy Up! Bronc riding school

Front row seat in my Northern Lite camper easy commute to work
Front row seat in my Northern Lite camper it was an easy commute to work as the annual Bronc riding school began its 3rd day.

I’m taking a chance using the word cowboy up in the title, as there were several young cowgirls also ready to learn what it takes to stay on the back of a horse that has been trained to put you in the dirt. But Cowboy up will have to do cause I hate to use cow person, it just looses something.

I had the privilege to once again attending if memory serves me right the 12th annual rough stock school for saddle bronc and bareback riders held each year at the Bill Gommersal Arena in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada. The school was established to help young cowboys and cowgirls get started competing in the saddle bronc and bareback riding events at the many rodeos across the province. Who best to teach but those champions who competed and are now retired from the sport.

Retired professional rodeo clown Lee Bellows is kinda a fixture around these parts in the rodeo arenas. He along with a team of professional retired riders and the best pick up men in the country volunteer their time to spend training those who want to ride and compete in the rodeo arena. Francis Rodeo Stock and Bar H Ranch and Rodeo bring a select number of appropriate horses to the school. Knowing their horses they select the horses that are safe for beginners with enough get up and buck to make it a challenge.

Going down the road and what it takes told by some rodeo legends' via video
Going down the road and what it takes told by some rodeo legends via video.

There was a time in my life Charlotte and I spent every weekend in our truck camper at a rodeo, photographing the contestants. We were lucky to be hired by the Elbow Rodeo committee for 10 years to supply them prints for their sponsors and they treated us well. I was telling the now retired champions that I had probably more photographs of them than their mothers, they never bought many. Dwayne Detchon in his trade mark pink shirt was one of them, he said on the road he was lucky to have enough money for gas and entry money and I was charging too much. Such is the life of a cowboy going down the road entry fees and fuel and these days that fuel bill will be high.

Cowboy knowledge
Cowboy knowledge shared by seasoned rodeo pro’s during ground school. L-R Don Gillespie, Lee Sinclair, Ross Smith and Dwayne Detchon.

I’m not going to duplicate a lot of information regarding the school if possible as it is pretty much the same as a previous post I did in 2017 (For the Love of Rodeo) if you want to look it up in the menu. This year’s team included organizers Lee Bellows, Don Gillespie, an honou,rable mention to Kelly Brice not there due to an injury and the team of Lee Sinclair (saddle bronc), Ross Smith (bareback) Wade Rempel, Luke Ellingston, Dwight Dokken, Dwayne Detchon, Shaun Myron, Steve Glen, Dick Hutchinson, Howard Campbell, Gary Giofu and I may have missed a few. I mention them because the recognition and admiration of the students is pretty much all they will get for their efforts. Volunteers who love the sport and are willing to cowboy up and teach others the sport. Lee said it best it takes the whole village to run this event.

When Wade Rempel one of the best pick up men in the business speaks one should listen up he has saved many from injuries and wrecks over the years.
When Wade Rempel, one of the best pick up men in the business, speaks one should listen up, he has saved many from injuries and wrecks over the years.

For those who are not aware Rodeo is one of the only sports the cowboy and cowgirl contestants pay the winners salary. You don’t place you just donated to the winners money. Some rodeo committees that host the rodeos will throw in some extra money or prize buckles to attract the best contestants, but primarily winnings are paid by the contestants. Learning to ride and win is important for entries fees and fuel money to get down the road to the next rodeo. No other sport I know of is like this can you imagine the effort of hockey players if they only got paid when they won and had to pay to play. I admire and have nothing but respect for those who put in the hours training and travelling to compete in an original western sport of rodeo. As fans in the stands we have no idea of what it takes to be a competitor, we just see the entertainment value and that’s good too, us who watch, help the committees put on the event and all win.

Life lessons
A few life lessons also shared from those who have been down the road on what it takes to be successful.

As many of my blog followers probably are not familiar with the sport of rodeo I for one hear all the negative media about the livestock. Well if that media would actually get to know what they are talking about they would find rodeo stock and contestants’ horses are so important to the success of their sport and industry they are well fed and cared for. These animals from bulls to barrel racing horses are trained to do what they are expected of them and cost a lot of money so are not neglected. No different than sled dogs or competition dogs. I watched Wade Rempel after a full day of rescuing students from the horses to keep them safe well after supper hour feed and water his horses first before joining the boys for supper and visit. I have seen this constantly as we usually camped with the competitors at these events, animals fed and watered first. When your income comes from driving truck you look after that truck….well these folks are no different.

Back to cowboy up and the school I will share some of my images, I have to admit I stood in pouring rain photographing many a rodeo performance when it was a business, I did not spend a lot of time in the rain Saturday as I am down to only one camera so images of action are limited. Teresa Bellows, one of the best rodeo photographers around will have many good images on Lee Bellows Facebook page you can check out some of the action there as well.

A good turn out at this years school with 27 young men and women
A good turn out at this year’s school with 27 young men and women.
Not just for the guys several young ladies also showed they could get the job done on the back of the rough stock.
Not just for the guys several young ladies also showed they could get the job done on the back of the rough stock.
Instructor Lee Sinclair takes to the practice bronc to demonstrate riding form
Instructor Lee Sinclair takes to the practice bronc to demonstrate riding form.
A lot to learn and practice makes perfect
A lot to learn and practice makes perfect starting with the basics.
A saddle bronc rig'n
A saddle bronc rigging.
A bareback rig'n
A bareback rigging.
Basics, basics and more basics
Basics, basics and more basics.
Lee Bellows board room table and story swapping area
Lee Bellows’ board room table and story swapping area.
Ground school on how to leave your ride to the safety of the pick up riders
Ground school on how to leave your ride to the safety of the pick up riders after making a successful ride.
Tuck and roll demonstrated by Lee Sinclair and Ross Smith
Tuck and roll demonstrated by Lee Sinclair and Ross Smith.
In the chute training and getting a good start out is a big part of your success
In the chute training and getting a good start out is a big part of your success.
For some this will be their first time on and others it may be a refresher as they wait for the chutes to be loaded.
For some this will be their first time on and others it may be a refresher as they wait for the chutes to be loaded.
Bareback student sticks tight on one of Francis Rodeo's broncs.
Bareback student sticks tight on one of Francis Rodeo’s broncs.
Even after a good ride one still has to get off a horse that is not ready to quit. Just the way he was taught in school a great safe dismount.
Even after a good ride one still has to get off a horse that is not ready to quit. Just the way he was taught in school a great safe dismount.
Making it look easy on his way to an 8 second ride
Making it look easy on his way to an 8 second ride
Day three and riders show the more practice the better the ride.
Day three and riders show the more practice the better the ride.
Learning some of the basics pays of for this saddle bronc rider
Learning some of the basics pays off for this saddle bronc rider
getting some good air right out of the chute
Getting some good air right out of the chute
Parting company
Saturday it rained but did not stop the students getting on the practice horses.
These well trained horses just love to get rid of those who attempt to ride them and many times are the winners
These well trained horses just love to get rid of those who attempt to ride them and many times are the winners.
You can always spot the amateurs they have the biggest lenses
You can always spot the amateurs they have the biggest lenses. I’m just jealous these two get great shots.
Now how did they say to hit an roll during ground school
Now how did they say to hit and roll during ground school? This rider gets an early dismount.
This young lady looks like she may be in trouble but managed to safely get down to try again.
This young lady looks like she may be in trouble but managed to safely get down to try again.
OK now the roll we were taught
OK now the roll we were taught to clear the hooves.
Looks good so far
Looks good so far.
OK I did not see this coming appears the photographer is a little rusty
OK I did not see this coming appears the photographer is a little rusty.
Like the riders the photographer needs a little practice this is better than the previous one
Like the riders the photographer needs a little practice this is better than the previous one.
This saddle bronc wins as he practices a dismount
This saddle bronc wins as he practices a dismoun.t
Just feeling the rush
Just feeling the rush can you imagine the power this bronc will put out to see you in the dust.
Got perfect form on the horse not so much on the rider
Got perfect form on the horse not so much on the rider my limited knowledge of the sport I think his feet are not in the right spot for spurring.
In the pouring rain I'm sure the saddle was a little slippery
In the pouring rain I’m sure the saddle was a little slippery.
How many more seconds do I have to be here?
How many more seconds do I have to be here?

I am old school in my photography coming from photographing rodeo on film where you cannot afford to let the motor drive run at 20 frames per second. I still find it a challenge to run on single frame and try to time the shot right, bonus less time editing now on the computer however fewer images to choose from. These are a few images of tomorrow’s rodeo champions getting a good start.

Can you believe it after two days of this these young students just kept getting back on. Despite, I’m sure, some pretty sore muscles this group paid their entry and were going to get there money worth. The contractor brought a lot of horses and they did not stop till they bucked them all. Great pre-season training not only for the human contestants but the horses as well. It was great to see old friends again doing what they love and when they are too brittle to compete but help the young carry on the tradition of riding broncs in the great sport of rodeo.

Just one of the many interesting places our truck camper takes us, in my next post I will share my trip to Moose Jaw stopping to check a RV for sale for my brother-in-law and staying and visiting two provincial parks on the way. Hint of the post I took the roads less travelled drove 90 km/hour or approximately 60 miles per hour and got great mileage compared to driving 100 and over…so just slow down and you will support our gas companies and government taxes less. I’m learning it’s not the destination, the beauty is in the journey to that destination and slow and steady gets you there, you can enjoy both.

Until next post subscribe if you want to be notified when new content is posted or just keep checking back, were on the road again and hope to meet you some where down the road. Thanks for your interest it gives me incentive to keep shooting and sharing…. as always I appreciate your comments…Gerry and Charlotte. Charlotte my editor in chief and partner would make a good government redactor.

An amazing 57 years of RV camping

GEP10092
Reflections on many years of poking the fire with a stick all is good.

As I sit quietly at home planning our BIG trip this spring I thought of the amazing years I have enjoyed camping. Fifty seven in total and many different RV’s so I guess one can say I have a little experience.

Over those years many things have changed the camping experience, just about everything has become super-sized, from camper trailers, boats, motors and all the rest of the toys. Big power is required for RV’s and cell coverage is a must and generators disrupt the quiet of nature. Another change I have witnessed is the lack of respect for our environment, grassy areas being chewed up in campgrounds, backing and parking on new tree growth, damaging existing trees, leaving washrooms filthy and trash left behind in firepits, the lakes and the bush.

Tree damage
This is not necessary to enjoy nature, this tree will die.
Campground trash
Campground trash left by two young people quite capable of carrying it 50 steps to the trash bin. This has to stop.

These are the disturbing changes caused by only a few but unfortunately becoming more common. The positive side of this is that many are good stewards of our land and are enjoying nature to the fullest with their family and friends and still poking that campfire with a stick. At 72 I’m praying I get many more years of experiencing this great country and its beauty, heck now retired we’re just getting started.

My first experience camping was in an army tent with only a tarp for the floor, a bag of oranges, one package of hot dogs and a package of hot dog buns. Amazingly I did not quit camping after that as it poured rain all night and I woke in the middle of a huge puddle. As I was inexperienced at camping in bear country I left my food out on the picnic table and awoke to having only one orange left with claw marks in it. That bear had ate dogs, buns and the plastic bags they were in. It’s a good thing I was sleeping during the visit or I probably would have added to the puddle in my tent. I gave up tents eventually when the mere sight of my tent up drew rain clouds overhead. There was a drought in the province at that time as well, I was thinking a good side hustle would be to charge farmers to camp on there land. Almost guaranteed rain.

20210618_120638
Lunch break at Mackay Lake and some chill time to reflect on the beauty around us.

The best memories Charlotte and I have had is camping with our four children in a soft top tent trailer. A trip from Calgary, Alberta to Prince Albert National Park in Saskatchewan with an old Volvo pulling that tent trailer and six bikes piled on top. We now wonder what the poor campers around us thought when they seen us pull up and let four children who have been travelling for seven hours loose in the campground. And even more to their dismay when they found out we were there for two weeks. Yep that old tent trailer served us well and created some of our best memories until someone needed it more than we did and took it.

Norm, Kathy, Mike and Barb
Some of the best people we have ever met was on the road in a campground somewhere, just plain good folks.

Well after that old tent trailer went away we borrowed my parents’ heavy old Scamper trailer or something like that. Single axle and their tow car, a big old Mercury Parkland with a huge V8. Well with the children loaded we left Saskatoon for our favorite spot Prince Albert National Park stopping every 40 miles to fill up that beast. I think it had a funnel for a carburetor. At today’s prices we would have only gotten 40 miles.

The story gets better, you just cannot make this stuff up. Before we got to Prince Albert we started getting headaches and could smell gas in the car so we opened all the windows wide and got to Prince Albert with wind blowing everywhere inside the car and quite chilly. The exhaust pipe had left us and was about two feet short of the back bumper of the car and we just about did ourselves in with carbon monoxide. In a hurry with four children to get to the lake we had the shop just put on a straight pipe out the back of the old Merc and it was clear sailing from there on, a little noisy and fish tailing down the highway, but fresh air in the cab. We never towed that trailer again.

Bear CHP_1437
This fellow reminded us we were just visitors and to keep it down.

Some of the best people we have met and have become friends with we have met on the road. It’s a lifestyle we just cannot shake, we gotta see what’s just down the road. Over the years we have done just that in a pull behind 16 foot Big Foot, many different truck campers from eight foot to 12 foot and a 35 foot fifth wheel. Some were better than others but we enjoyed them all. After the pull behind campers, truck campers appeared to suit our style and we had a number of different ones, until a jack failed and we just about laid that camper on its side and would have if I had not put a block under it. As far as Charlotte was concerned that was it for hydraulic jacks and truck campers.

We figured bigger must be better as we took to the road for a year publishing our magazine Pure Country. We could incorporate an office into our 35 foot fifth wheel and it would be home as well. The first time out we arrived at a campground and not being familiar with it failed to notice a sign that said tents only. I got a lot of stares and was real proud of my big rig until we realized the spots were small and we were big. Figured later the reason for those stares. Well that old diesel pulled that 35 feet right down to a treed in dead end, you should have seen the face on that poor girl in a tent when we pulled down the road where she was camped at the end of.

I really thought I would have to get that trailer airlifted out of there, but after 3/4 of an hour and a 96 point turn we got it back on the road out. I was impressed with the turning of the fifth wheel but have never missed a sign again. We had traded a Kodiak truck camper for that monster, the Kodiak which is not made any more was one of the best truck campers we have had. If you find one check them out, very well made and all fiberglass similar to Big Foot and our Northern Lite. We would probably still have that camper today however I made the mistake lots of people make with truck campers….too much camper not enough truck and it was always swaying and just too hard to drive comfortably.

Prince Albert National Park
Winter or summer and all year long it’s all good in our Northern Lite.

We can argue trucks, camper types till all the cows leave home, but over the years we have found simple is just plain better. We are back to our truck camper. Some say they are small and for those who want to square dance in the kitchen they are. For us it works. Our truck camper has everything in it our cabin back home has including a hot shower (our cabin back home is small as well). We travel to enjoy the outdoors, yes we do like our comfortable bed and our own washroom as well, but we live outdoors most of the time.

Camping in Calgary
Our home is where we park it and with the TC that is just about anywhere country or city.

Yes there was a time when we needed half a day to set up camp, screen tents, BBQ’s, outdoor kitchens, rugs, loungers and sit around the fire chairs. We now see big units that have to be unhitched, leveled two different ways, generators hooked up, power cords strung 75 feet of lights strung out around multiple out buildings. I know I am old but it tires me out just watching and this was only for a weekend.

One day Char and I sat and watched a young lady and her dog set up next to us in a small camper van. She backed in, shut off the van pulled out her awning, small outdoor rug and her chair. Camp was set up about ten minutes and proceeded to enjoy the view and her book. Later she pulled out a inflatable kayak and went for a paddle and appeared to be enjoying her surroundings. When it was time to leave she dusted off her rug folded the chair deflated the kayak packed it in the camper and left, timed her ten minutes again.

We looked at each other after watching this and said WOW we thought we were simple. Since then we have downsized even more and are enjoying that extra time in our surroundings, canoeing, hiking and just sitting poking that fire with a stick.

Cypress Hills Provincial Park campsite
Just sitting enjoying poking the fire with a stick.

My advice is when it comes to camping don’t overthink it, it’s not all the rig and gear you get to display, it’s really about the experience, memories and the places visited. Some of the best times we ever had was in that old three hundred dollar soft top ten trailer and just an open fire to cook on with a tarp in case it rained. The best part is… it was all paid for the camper, car and bikes not new or fancy but we had as much fun as anyone and no stress. It took us 55 years to get our first new camper and newer truck and yes it’s paid for, our gift to each other as we love to travel. But starting out we had a blast with the little or whatever we had so do with what you have and enjoy. Trust me sometimes the lack of stuff makes for some great memories.

This is not my usual post but as one can tell I’m searching for something to share as are may YouTuber’s when they are not on the road. I’m a blogger as I hate spending hours editing video so for those of you who do not mind reading I enjoy sharing some thoughts and photographs.

We are not on the road this winter as we are planning, planning being the operative word, a very extensive year of travel. Our camper is unloaded and the truck getting all it needs before we head out. As well with gas prices not dropping we have to save on the old budget where we can so our winter camping got nixed. So if all the stars align and if it’s meant to be we will be taking a few short shake down trips north this spring in preparation for the “Big One”. As most nomads know there has to be a plan B and C and that will work as well if it has to be.

GER
Yep I really am that old….Gerry.

I hope you have enjoyed our Blog as it is great to be able to share images and thoughts with those interested. We are not going to bombard our subscribers with hot deals on “stuff” so that will NOT happen. When you subscribe it shows your interest and we appreciate that, what I would like to see is those numbers increase, I have a few quality RV dealers and suppliers I would like to share links to at the bottom of my blog. If this helps you connect with reputable people in the industry and products then it will be beneficial to us all and non invasive. Your choice to click or not click. So your free subscription helps my numbers and your email will only be used to notify when we do a new post, it will save you checking when nothing new is being uploaded. That’s it upfront….take care and we hope to see you down the road.

PS: I have learned a lot from the youtube and blog nomad community and would like to share the links of those who have helped us as well. Also some of the apps for travel and campgrounds, dump stations etc. Please feel free to comment or ask questions here on this or anything….Gerry

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