Flanking and Tying Loose Ends (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

When we made my video, Flanking & Tying, the guys in the studio inserted some of my NFR runs for demonstration. As I watched it for the first time, I was filled with relief when I saw myself practice what I preached.

This month I walked across the stage and received my college diploma. The end of my last semester of college those many years ago now, happened to be the same time as my first NFR qualification. I missed one test with every intention of making it up. For one reason or another I never did take the test and that one test kept me from graduating.

When I had to undergo surgery on my shoulder it seemed like the perfect time to tie up that loose end and practice what I preach, “Education, education, education,” and  “Always finish what you start.”

This wasn’t as much for me as it was for my boys. Even though they are toddlers now, I know they will hear those very words adamantly from me in the future. I need to be able to say them with a clear conscience, because you cannot ask your kids, or anyone else for that matter, to do something you would not do yourself.

It had been so long since I was in school that the degree I had worked towards didn’t even exist anymore and I had to change it to a General Studies degree. I took two classes, Art Appreciation and Psychology. I’m sure my Psychology teacher hadn’t ever anticipated a thirty-six year old who rodeos for a living. I drove all night to walk across that stage, so my kids will know that I’m the real deal.

Will this degree improve my annual salary, I doubt it. I may or may not need it in time to come, but it’s an accomplishment I finished and am very proud of.

I would like to thank everyone for the kind and compassionate comments about Topper. The response was unbelievable. It may have been a kind word as I rode in the box, or walking through an airport, someone I’d never seen before might say, “Man, I’m sorry about your horse.”

I’ve always said that people in the western industry are the best in the world – and they just keep proving it to me again and again.

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