By Lesli Nolen
Published February 2013
It’s stock show and rodeo time in San Angelo; and it’s during this time I reflect back on that time in my life.
I used to show Southdown and other wool lambs. I thought they were so cute. But it was only after a year or two that I discovered this stock show stuff wasn’t all that it was cracked up to be. I thought I’d show my lambs, mingle and check out the boys! I found out that I actually had to work at this stuff. My sister and I both showed, so every day after school we would run the lambs, feed and water them and work on holding them, setting their feet and walking with them. I usually did fairly well at the Crosby County shows, as did my sister. It wasn’t like I always placed last. But after two years of showing I decided this was not for me. My sister enjoyed showing and continued to do so years after.
That next year, after my retirement, when dad went to buy my sister’s lambs he decided to go ahead and buy me one just in case I changed my mind. He worked with it, fed it and took care of it; didn’t ask me to do anything. Stock show time came and I still didn’t want to show. I should have. It was probably one of the best lambs we had ever had. Instead, I just cried. I felt really bad. I knew dad worked with him and he would probably win, but I just didn’t want to show. I still have no idea what my problem was back then and even today I don’t remember the details after that. I don’t know if my sister showed the lamb that year or what. I do remember the next year dad did not buy me a lamb just in case! That was the extent of my lamb showing career.
We also grew up with horses—always had a barn full. I wanted to be around the horses all the time. I would climb the fence to get on them. I would slide off their rear ends and I would walk under them. I thought they were there for my entertainment. Thankfully, I was never seriously injured but I did get bucked off and stepped on numerous times.
My favorite horses were Poncho, Chick, Black, Lady and X. Poncho was a black and white paint pony. He was the first horse to buck me off. I jumped on him one day and kicked him to go and go he did. He ran to the end of the arena, bucked and off I went. When I realized I wasn’t hurt I thought that was kind of fun. Mom and dad didn’t agree.
Chick was a sorrel horse, very tall and big. I don’t know how many hands he was, but even at 5 foot 7 it was hard for me to reach the stirrups to get in the saddle. Chick only had two speeds, slow and slower. He was the calm horse out of the bunch. I could ride him or I could pile all my friends on him and he would just walk and walk and walk. He never got in a hurry, never got spooked and never had a reason to go fast. He was the horse I always rode in parades, the grand entry and just for pleasure.
Black was one of our oldest horses. He was 16 years old when I was able to ride him and I think he passed away at 18 years. But he was an awesome horse and very well trained. You could do anything on him. Dad could rope on him and then I could get on him and he would just chill and walk.
Lady and X were the last two horses around. Lady was mine. She was a black mare and we were made for each other. We were both fast and stubborn. She could run the barrels like nobody’s business, but her best act was the poles. I would walk her in the arena, she would see those poles and when I kicked her to go all I had to do was hold on. She glided through each one beautifully. And I hate to say it but she would beat my sister’s horse, X, every time! She was great.
X was my sister’s horse, taken off the race track. He was her barrel horse. She liked to compete and participate in the rodeo. I never really rode X much, he was a little too jittery for me. He and my sister fit well and did well together. She competed and X did great for her. When it was time to hang up the reigns, dad sold him and we later found out that he had passed away not too long after that, as did the rest of them. They have all gone on to greener pastures but I’d like to think that each one of them took a piece of us with them. They were great animals and good companions.
I can’t be at a stock show or rodeo and not think of them. They will always hold a special place in my heart. I think that’s why the stock show and rodeo will always be a part of me, just as much as they are!