Longhorns at the Longhorn
When Ray Cotton and Coleman Peveto get their heads together to plan a night at the Longhorn rodeo arena, anything can happen. The latest idea the two old rodeo hands had was to honor two area rodeo legends and to have a re-enactment of a Longhorn cattle drive.
Dickie Richards was a champion bull rider when he was in his prime. His accomplishments led to Richards being elected to the Texas Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame in 2002.
Richards rode on the weekends and had what cowboys call a “real job” at Livingston Shipyard. His “real job” paid the bills and his bull riding career fulfilled his proclivity to live on the edge. Richards’ collection of buckles and titles show that though he pushed to the edge, he never went over. He earned the respect of everyone he has met during his life in rodeo.
Richards can still be found at most rodeos and bull ridings in the area. He is an occasional judge at the indoor bull ridings at the Texas Longhorn.
One of Richards companions who also competed against Richards was Jim Peters. That was before Peters went on to become well known as a rodeo clown and bullfighter
Peters joined the Rodeo Cowboy Association in the early 1950s and remained a member for decades. He rode in all three rough stock events for 16 years and then turned his talents to the entertaining side of rodeo by becoming a clown and the protective side of rodeo by also bullfighting. In Peters’ day he did both, the jobs were not specialized as they are now.
In the memory of many, Peters is tied to his longtime partner, Side Kick. Side Kick was a small mule that Peters trained and preformed with for 28 years.
Cotton and Peveto decided that the two cowboys deserved special recognition and introduced them to a new group of rodeo fans.
In a special ceremony at the last bull riding; both men were honored by having short biographies read and they were presented with personalized buckles by Cotton. It was evident that Peters and Richards were deeply moved and felt honored to be remembered.
The other idea that Cotton and Peveto had, the cattle drive, was to bring the 10 head of Longhorn steers that Cotton had at his ranch to the Longhorn arena and to put together a group of working cowboys to bring them into the arena, bunch them up and drive them back out. In short, to give a snap shot view of what went on over 100 years ago on trails like the Goodnight, Chisum, and Bozeman as herds were driven to the railheads to be shipped to the hungry folks in the east.
Cotton’s herd was brought to the Longhorn and put in the back pasture for a few days. Peveto went to work finding the drovers. When the crew was put together they met at the Longhorn to practice.
The crew contained three generations of the Harris family, Dan, Dan’s son Bubba, and Bubba’s son Casey, Dan’s grandson. Dan’s older brother Gus was there. The Harris family has been working cattle in the area almost as long as there have been cattle.
Elmer Blackwell, Bobby Ford, and Chipper Nance rounded out the cowboys, but on this drive there would be some cowgirls along too.
Ford’s daughter Mary, Orange Sheriff’s Posse Rodeo Chairman Becky Rhoden, and Sydney Jordan joined the crew.
On the night of the show the crew would be joined by the Rev. E. Dale Lee, pastor of the Orange Cowboy Church.
At the rehearsal; few, if any, of the horses had ever been under a roof before. None of the Longhorns had ever been covered and had not had too many dealings with mounted riders. There was a little uncertainty about how things would proceed.
The drovers rode to the pasture and began to work the steers toward the arena. The back gates were opened and the steers came inside with no problems.
Working cowboys know their jobs and this crew was no exception. Directions to each other were given in calm, quite voices by the Harris brothers at the head and followed competently by the others doing the pushing. Casey Harris could be heard making calming noises and talking to the herd.
The herd was introduced to Peveto’s voice and to music as Peveto read a narrative about cattle drives in the “old days.”
The rehearsal went very well. The next step would be the show.
The night of the show involved the noise of the crowd and movements that the steers had never seen before. There was a little apprehension about what would happen. Other than being a little nervous, the steers were fine.
The drovers brought them in and slowly moved them around the arena. When it came time to bunch the herd in the middle of the arena, the drovers held them and the steers stood there like they were doing something they had done before.
It was evident that the working cowboys and cowgirls knew their business. The only hitch of the night was when the exit gate was opened and the steers balked a bit at going out. There were people standing in the alleyway. Once they moved out, all was fine and the steers went back to doing whatever steers do in back pens.
After the two special events the bucking of 48 bulls started. There would be the 48 rides and then the top 10 riders would come back for the “short go.” The short go would be the round that would be for the money and the buckle.
Cotton had put $1000 added money in the pot and the winner would get in addition to his winnings a custom designed Broken Arrow Silver Company buckle.
Peveto had hired the rodeo clown “Show Dog” to entertain the crowd. Show Dog brought Elvis to the show. Elvis was the calmest member of the show. He just stood propped by a broom as any good dummy would do. Elvis took a hit in the short go that put him into a low orbit. When he was brushed off and re-propped he was ready to go again.
Bullfighter Bubba Tacker took a hit in the long go that put him in a low orbit. The bull’s horn caught Tacker and tossed him for a few feet. Fellow bullfighters Jody Papa and Dane Midkiff shooed the bull away from Tacker. Tacker got back on his feet and was good for the rest of the show.
There were some good bulls in the pen for this show. They put most of the riders in the dirt, but not without some difficulty. Most of the riders were able to hang for most of the eight seconds. Some were bucked off so close to the buzzer that Peveto had to look for judges Joe Blackwell and Teddy Alleman to give either a thumb up for good or a thumb down for “nope.”
Josh Barrentine rode both of his bulls, but only made 72 points in the short go for third place. Jace Coleman made two rides also, but only won second place with a 76 point ride in the short go. Dustin Bridges won the buckle and first place with a great ride that scored 84 points.
Several in the crowd were heard to remark that this was the best bull riding that they had been to. The crowd could see and hear. The layout at the Longhorn arena is the best in the area. There is the feeling that you are part of the action.
Two fans were heard discussing the rumor that there would be no more indoor bull ridings at the Longhorn. “I hate to think about there not being any more bull ridings. It was fun to come see the bull ridings and then dance a bunch,” said Lake Charles resident Bill Duhon.
Next on the calendar at the Longhorn is a concert by the fantastic rock and roller, Chubby Checker. The date is Aug. 13. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door.