While the limelight is bright and the buckles are shiny, hiding in the background behind a video camera is the most unsung hero of the rodeo world – MOMS.
My childhood is flooded with countless examples of my mom driving the rodeo rig cross country (while reading a book nonetheless), fixing hot meals in a tiny camper, corralling my brother and I into the stands during late night or early morning slack and performances praying that close by spectators won’t mind getting smacked in the face with a toy rope or having a spare child on their lap while my dad made his run so she could video. She was no joke when it came to untying calves in the practice pen while wrangling a toddler. She taught us to read, tie our shoes, rollerblade and so much more all while humbly cheering on my dad’s pursuit of his rodeo dreams. She is so much of the reason I crave for my children to have the same unbelievable life experiences that Ace and I had growing up. She made the rodeo life look easy and natural. (Honestly, now that I’m a mom of two toddlers myself – she made the mom life look so easy and natural). I daily recognize how her self-sacrifice shaped my experiences and my entire being. She lived and continues to live in a constant state of selflessness to provide for every need of her ever growing crew! I so badly want to be her when I grow up! She doesn’t get near the credit she deserves for keeping the wheels turning and the family thriving during our years on the professional rodeo circuit.
It may all begin with youth rodeo when kiddos are dependent on their parents to give up weekend after weekend to haul you across the state and beyond, but it sure doesn’t end there. They remain the captain of the cheering squad – showing up and buying tickets for the whole family to attend Houston, San Antonio, Cheyenne and everywhere in between. I will never forget when my mom watched Ace win the Tuscon, Arizona – La Fiesta de los Vaqueros Rodeo via livestream and threw her phone clear across the room, shouted some excited explicit phrases that must go unmentioned as tears started streaming down her face because the pride and sheer joy was immensely overwhelming. On the opposite end of the spectrum, I’ve witnessed her get that sick pit in her stomach when him or my dad missed an important calf or had extremely tough luck. She cares – so deeply that it hurts. She would and continues to do anything that help make their rodeo dreams a little more attainable. My mom has dropped everything to fly to the Northwest to help Allie (Ace’s wife) drive the rig long days and all-night during the busiest time of year so that Ace could get everywhere he possibly needed to get for a chance at optimal success.
Rodeo moms are the backbone of the industry. They are behind every practice run with a hot meal or a helping hand in the barn. They are the listening ear when you’ve had a streak of bad luck or the most meaningful Congratulations after a big win! They are the sign holders, calf pushers, horse exercisers, hauling partners, barrel standers that make great cowboys and cowgirls. They are on every youth rodeo board volunteering their time for their child and to keep the sport that is so near and dear to their child or family’s heart alive for future generations.
My mom is the woman I hope to see in the mirror every time I look – and my prayer is that yours is too. If you are in the rodeo world or beyond, hug and hold your mom tight today and every day. Tell her thank you for her unwavering support and endless memories that shaped the person you have become and strive to be.
We’d love to hear some of your favorite memories of your mom, rodeo or otherwise, to celebrate the world’s (and definitely rodeo’s) MOST UNSUNG HEROES – MOMS!
Happy Mother’s Day from Slone Saddles!
-Kailey Slone Leske