Thursday, May 22, 2008

Chapter One

Out in the eastern plains of Wyoming, on a windy March day, a mare by the name of Red Bird gave birth to a bay filly.

That filly was me, Miss Congeniality, the 2007 world champion saddle bronc horse owned by Powder River Rodeo. My mom had been in the business of raising bucking horses for a few years when I came along. She had a lot of practice and was the best mom ever. One of my first memories is of her nudging me, encouraging me to get up and telling me that I had great things to do in my life.

My mom spent the next few months telling me that I was born to be a bucking horse. She told me about my dad, Cut the Cards, a little stud horse that came from Harry Vold. He has a long black curly mane and is a deep blood bay. She was always telling me how much I looked like my dad and how I was destined to be a bucking horse.

My dad was selected for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo three times, so the Franzens, owners of Powder River knew what he could do in the arena before they kept him at home to let him be a dad. Well I listened to everything that my Mom told me. When I would complain about the wind, or that it was cold, she told me to be quiet. The weather would just make me tough.

My mom reminded me every day that I was growing big and strong and that I had a legacy to fulfill. We’d be walking across the pasture and she’d give me a big nudge that would almost knock me over. I asked her “what was that for?” She explained that she was teaching me about balance.

She was always after me to eat telling me if I wanted to grow big and strong it was important to get my fill of grass. She would watch me buck and play with the other foals in the pasture and always gave me encouragement and advice. She also explained to me that Wyoming’s state logo was a bucking horse and that all of us horses born in this state were representing that logo.

The Franzens purchased my mom with a group of other mares from Johnny Morris. They came out of Montana. Johnny had some great horses and I’m proud to say that my mom was one of them. He was a former bronc rider and an accomplished pilot that used to fly rodeo cowboys around. He needed money for an engine for his plane and that’s when he decided to sell the horses that included my mom.

Johnny was flying four cowboys from Bozeman, Mont., to the Cow Palace in San Francisco in 1998 when their plane crashed. Bareback rider Mark Garrett had minor injuries, his brother Marvin along with saddle bronc rider Scott Johnston and bull rider Thad Bothwell all sustained broken backs. Johnny died from injuries he got in the accident. My mom told me that Johnny was a very kind man and took real good care of all of them. She told me about Johnny’s love of flying and said that he will always be an angel looking over the horses and cowboys in the sport he loved so much.

All of those stories made a big impression on me as I was growing up. I’m now a 10-year-old mare that has made a career in the arena as a saddle bronc horse and outside of the arena as a mom. I’ve just given birth to my fourth foal, a filly that I’m trying to teach the same lessons that my mom taught me.

About a year and a half ago, the Franzens loaded us all up and I knew we weren’t just going to a rodeo, because I mean they loaded everything. We moved from the eastern prairies of Wyoming to the Wind River area. We now call Riverton home and I think this will be a fine place to raise the next generation of Powder River Rodeo bucking horses.
The wind doesn’t blow as much here, so I’m nudging my baby more than my mom did to teach her about balance. There’s a little more snow but so far we all like the climate. It’s good for growing strong babies.

If I am half as good of a teacher as my mom was, my babies will have it made. When I was just five, I earned my first championship title. Then last year, the top 30 bronc riders in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association picked me again. I think last year was outstanding. I only had three guys make the whistle on me during the regular season and each time they were 91 points.

One of those guys was Anthony Bello, who had me at Idaho Falls, Idaho. He was lucky enough to get me again in the 10th round of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, but I don’t think he had as good a trip. We only got an 86.5 point ride there.

I’m pretty proud of the other seven rides where I bucked the cowboys off. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind when they ride and we win, but it’s a lot of fun to see them dusting off their britches after I’ve thrown them in the dirt.

I’ve been told that I’m an honest bucker. I’m not really sure what that means, I just know that this is what I was born and bred to do, and every time they open the gate, I’m going to kick as high as I can, drop my head as low as they let me and do my best to get that cowboy off my back.

This month I’ve told you what influenced me outside of the arena. Next month, I’ll be talking about what has happened in the arena for the last five years. For the rest of the year, I’m going to share my experiences with you and I hope that you’ll get a chance to see me in action.

My name is Miss Congeniality and I’m proud to be a Wyoming bucking horse.

1) Miss Congeniality
2) Anthony Bello on Miss Congeniality, image provided by Dan Hubbell