By Cheyenne Glade Wilson
Does the world need more cowboys? HECK YES!!! This past weekend my husband and I put on two days of ranch rodeo action in Chadron, Nebraska. I can tell you that the spirit of the cowboy is alive and well. We had over 60 cowboys and cowgirls competing for the weekend championship title at the Fur Trade Days Ranch Rodeos. There was much handiness to be seen in the arena, but one contestant stuck out to me above the rest. He was our Top Hand recipient over the weekend. His name is Cael Stratton from Torrington, WY and he is only 14 YEARS OLD! This kid is a hand and full of manners/respect. He earned this honor while competing with men at least twice his age. He didn’t let that bother him though. You wouldn’t have known he was only 14 years old watching him in the arena. He competed like a pro and his team didn’t coddle him. He was a valued asset to them and they knew it. My heart swelled to see this as did the crowd’s.
When the rodeos were over with and he had been given his award (a K Bar J Leather custom lazered knife and sheath) you could see the pride swell up in him. I went over and chatted with him. I began to think about his name and I connected the dots. I asked him if he knew a Tonya Stratton. He said, “Yes, ma’am, she’s my mom.” I smiled and said, “I should have known!” You see his mom is a heck of a cowgirl in the ranch rodeo arena too. I met her five years ago at the very first WRRA (Women’s Ranch Rodeo Association) that we produced (and I competed in) in Crawford, Nebraska. One thing I’ve seen across the board in my life is how the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Cael is a handy, respectful young cowboy for a reason…his folks have led by example. This is what makes me so proud to be a part of it all. Our cowboy history runs deep and it has a bright future. As long as we cherish our lifestyle and continue to live it as generations before us have with our children learning along the way…we will continue to grow. Our youngsters need events like this to showcase their skills and to represent into the world what our lives are all about. We all follow the code of the cowboy. I feel the world would be a much better place if this was followed by all. We can all do our part by standing firm in our beliefs and helping our youngest cowboys and cowgirls find their place in it all. Long Live Cowboys!