FROM THE EDITOR
A GREAT AMERICAN WEEKEND WITH CONTESTANTS WHO ARE PROUD TO BE AMERICANS!
By Glory Ann Kurtz
Feb. 25, 2017
I seldom write an opinion piece in a Letter From The Editor; however, last weekend I watched two Western events at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, with an announced close to 40,000 spectators, and heard about two other major horse events held during the same weekend, including the NRCHA’S World’s Greatest Horseman and Celebration of Champions held at the Will Rogers Equestrian Center and the Mercuria cutting held during The Mane Event, a cutting competition held at the South Point Equestrian Center in Las Vegas, Nev. After attending and hearing about these four events, I was moved to write how these events affected me and I’m sure a lot of others, due to the obvious patriotism of the contestants as well as the spectators.
I attended the PBR’s “Iron Man” and watched RFD-TV’s “The American” on television that awarded millions of dollars to contestants in the Western industry at AT&T stadium in Arlington, Texas – home of the Dallas Cowboys.
None of these contestants in any of these events refused to stand and take off their hats during the National Anthem or put their hands over their heart during the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag. No one took the microphone and spewed hatred toward others, regardless of their color, country, age or association affiliation. No contestants took a knee. No protestors stood outside carrying signs and chanting hatred.
From the huge American flag that took up one whole end of the arena in AT&T stadium, held by youth and competitors, while the National Anthem was being sung, to the introduction of a veteran who had lost his legs while doing his duty to protect this country, they brought a huge lump in my throat and a tear to my eyes, as I’m sure it did to many others.
Contestants helped each other and cheered them on – regardless of their color, religion or the city, state or country they came from. Millionaire cowboys competed on a level playing field with dead-broke cowboys and teenagers. There were competitors from most of the United States, Brazilians, Blacks, Mexicans, Indians, Canadians, Australians and New Zealanders, with many members of various associations across the world – and some were just individuals who loved rodeo. There were World Champions, past World Champions, college students, newcomers, teenagers and even brothers who were all excited to be in the same arena. Obviously, their most prized possessions were the horses they competed on.
One of the most spectacular exhibits of patriotism was held just prior to the NCHA Mercuria cutting Finals held that same weekend during The Mane Event aged events held at the South Point Equestrian Center in Las Vegas, Nev.
Although I was not able to be there, I heard it was above spectacular, so I called Paula Gaughan and asked her to tell me what went on there. I was truly impressed by her response:
“We emptied the main arena and loping end for an hour after the regular show ended. After we got all our opening props in the arena, we opened the doors and people were let into a dark house with very minimal lighting.
After all were seated, the voice of Tom Holt came out of the dark. He opened with a prayer and asked everyone to direct their attention to the loping area. He began with, “I was born in 1777 and went on to describe the places he had been and the battles he had seen, the children he saw every day in their classrooms and the soldiers he had buried and honored. The arena is still dark and at the end of his monologue, he says, “I am your American Flag!”
At that precise moment, a 50-foot flag that had been concealed in the rafters in a piece of equipment, dropped in all its glory, with glitter coming out of it and was lit up with tons of lights – all on the flag!! There was amazement and pride on all the faces of those in attendance. Then another set of lights lit up a 20-foot tall red, white and blue cowboy boot in the cutting pen. Music played with the voice of Tom Holt describing the role of the cowboy boot in the American tradition of the American cowboy – its history and the history of the American Cowboy, who were American heroes.
Then a military version of the National Anthem played and a girl came out of the back of the boot with a huge American flag on a big black-and-white Paint horse and took a lap in the arena. She and the horse had been concealed in the boot during the entire seating,
Holt then introduced the Mercuria finalists who walked out to a red carpet in front of the boot with spotlights on them. To cap it off, we then introduced Brigadier General David Hicks (nicknamed Trashman) who was the Air Force Commander General in Kabul, Afghanistan. He carried the Crown Royal Whiskey bag with the numbers in it for the draw and shook hands with every contestant as he went to each one and they drew their number. It was all very moving and special!
Now, even though that was all very cool, there was a minor problem in the hydraulics had happened with the girl on the horse. As the National Anthem was playing, they were supposed to slowly rise up out of the boot. You would have first seen the tip of the flag peeking out until the entire flag, girl and horse were atop the boot , where they would revolve through the end of the National Anthem. Even though it didn’t happen that way, no one knew the difference, and it was still spectacular!
The whole opening was possible because of Cotton Rosser of the Flying U Rodeo Company. His son, Reno, and granddaughter Lindsay, who was the girl on the Paint in the boot, have performed this thousands of times and I have had the privilege of seeing it and asked him if he could bring it to us.
But honestly 90 percent of the people there did not have a clue it did not go as it was supposed to. It was meant to be a salute to America – our great country – and honor things we hold dear. I really think we accomplished that. Paula continued, saying that the patriotic show was also to showcase the amazing horses and riders that made the finals of the Mercuria event, especially since there had been eight sets of horses in the go-rounds.
Now, the next problem. How the heck do we top that next year??? It’s back to the drawing board.”
This was the horse world I grew up in; however, when I and my children competed in playdays and rodeos, it was for hundreds of dollars and trophies – not millions of dollars, ruby-studded belt buckles, 100-pound trophies, television cameras, sky cams, monster screens and an audience of thousands of spectators who paid hundreds of dollars to attend and park at the event. But our love of the event and resolve to win in this wonderful country was the same.
For a short time I was back in a world of competitors who had love and respect for their peers, their animals and their country. Although competition and winning was the object, they were all friends and helped each other – and honored our country during the rodeos by the cowboys taking off their hats and cowgirls putting their hand over their hearts while standing and singing the National Anthem and saying the Pledge of Allegiance. God Bless America!!!