If you’ve seen the John Wayne classic film, The Cowboys, the following should sound familiar.
A true cowboy, one who deals with the meanest of animals and the toughest of conditions, takes some kids out to the brush.
Said cowboy befriends the young men. He helps turn them into not-so-young men and eventually becomes so confident in their cowboy skills that he’d rather have his kids out there than any other crew he could muster up.
Meet J.W. Hart, a real-life incarnation of Wayne’s character, Wil Andersen.
“That’s what it is around there; I bust brush with a bunch of little pre-teenagers,” Hart said. “They’re kids of some real good friends of ours, and instead of having to send them to daycare or something like that, they come to our house and we run a cow camp.”
Hart is one of the most accomplished bull riders in the history of the Professional Bull Riding tour and raises bulls. So he and his “cow camp” gather Hart’s bulls, feed them and Hart’s horses and do other old-school cowboy activities.
And after a summer’s worth of Hart and his kiddie-cowboy crew, he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I’ve had more fun with these kids this summer helping me ranch and feed and do stuff,” Hart said. “There’s a couple of them boys in there that I’d take to the brush gathering bulls over most grown men. They’re real good at it.”
Hart’s experience has given him faith in the future of cowboys, rodeo and his specialty – bull riding. That’s why he and another bull riding legend, Tuff Hedeman, were at the Youth Bull Riding Finals 10 days ago at Will Rogers Coliseum.
Both find the purity of youth bull riding both inspiring and well worth their while.
“The coolest thing about riding bulls is it really doesn’t matter what your name is or where you’re from or how much money you have. Once you’re in the competition, it’s basically between you and the animal,” Hedeman, a founder of the PBR and president of Championship Bull Riding, said. “It’s better now for the younger generation, but at the end of the day it’s still the individual that makes the difference whether they’re successful or not.”
This summer, Hart did his part to make sure the generation grows up to be good bull riders and, more important to him, good young men.
“They’re just real cowboys and that’s what means the most to me. The future is bright,” Hart said. “I’m kind of like Wil Andersen on the movie The Cowboys.”
Told you he was.
Cowboys of Color rodeo
The Cowboys of Color will host its 13th annual rodeo at Will Rogers Coliseum Aug. 30. A parade is scheduled for noon with the rodeo to follow at 7 p.m.
Wild Card Rodeo Company and Roughstock, Inc., will host the Eastland County PRCA rodeo at Ranger College in Ranger (85 miles west of Fort Worth) Sept. 26-27. The rodeo will begin at 7 each night.
Ranger College won the 2007 NIRA title under new coach and recent ProRodeo Hall of Fame inductee Tom Reeves.