He came all the way from Germany to ride “the most dangerous cow in Texas.”
And then he went to the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo.
But Ron Boese is not what you would really call a cowboy. He is a reporter for a television show on Germany’s ZDF network that, among other topics, looks for people with interesting occupations or hobbies.
“It is kind of a cross between ‘60 Minutes’ and ‘Somebody’s Gotta Do It’ with Mike Rowe on CNN,” said Melanie Hillmann, the producer for the segment featuring Boese. The program’s title translates to “Foreign Report” in English.
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The Stock Show visit was part of a nine-day swing through the U.S. by the German crew that included Boese doing a story about the Hughes family, a rodeoing clan from Kempner, near Killeen. Boese followed the family’s three sons — 15-year-old Riggen, 11-year-old Rowdy and 9-year-old Ridge — as they competed in junior bull riding events. And since the show requires Boese to get involved with the careers he covers, the crew went to the Hughes spread in Kempner to see the boys practicing for their competitions and get acquainted with the bull riding life.
“I figured they would just be there to watch. But he was so hands on. He wanted to get knee deep and dirty,” said Kellie Hughes, the boys’ mother. “At the end of the day, he was taking the water hose and washing manure off his boots. I was impressed.”
But what Boese really wanted to do was ride a bull.
“Very soon, the father [Flint Hughes] told me that if you have never sat on a bull, you will not ride a bull on my farm,” said the jovial Boese. “And now I know that he probably saved my life.”
But a solution was offered in the form of May, the Hughes’ milk cow that was, perhaps, a bit misrepresented to Boese.
“But he said, if I wanted to, I could get on the back of the most dangerous cow in Texas,” said Boese.
What ensued is not likely to live in rodeo history.
“She bucked a couple of times. Then she walked a bit and stopped,” said Kellie, describing the action. “He was able to hop off and I was like, thank you Jesus.”
Hillmann said the program wanted to do a Texas segment because her countrymen love the Old West.
“It is every German’s dream is to be a cowboy. Every young child [wants to dress up] for carnival or Halloween as a cowboy or an Indian,” said Hillmann, who works for ZDF out of Los Angeles. “So that’s why so many Germans are going to Texas. Their big dream is of seeing not only rodeo, but also the whole cowboy dream of being on a horse, living on a ranch and wrangling with animals. That, for some reason, is a kind of childhood dream of many, many Germans.”
And the Hughes family seemed quintessentially American to Hillmann.
“We were interested in them because they are so very American. I think they can’t be more American. They are home schooled and do nothing but rodeo. Germans don’t have homeschooling. Germans don’t have rodeo.”
But all those differences did not prevent the Hughes family and the German crew from hitting it off immediately.
“I felt totally integrated from the first second,” said Boese, about visiting the Hughes family. “They didn’t say, ‘Oh he’s an idiot because he doesn’t know what a bull is, or what a steer is or what a whatever is.’ They explained everything to me.”
And the Hugheses were equally taken.
“They were all so willing and open. They saw firsthand the desire the boys have. It was a great experience for the boys,” said Kellie. “I think we are going to be family from here on out. They entered our rodeo family.”
As tokens of the new friendship, the Hughes family gave Boese a hat and a dinner plate-sized belt buckle when he and the crew came to the Stock Show to see the Hughes boys compete in the Bulls Night Out competition on Tuesday — mementoes that obviously elated Boese.
And that is not the only memory Boese will take away from his visits to Fort Worth and Kempner. You can just imagine that seeing so much of the American West would mean that Boese’s most indelible memories of Texas would smell like saddle leather. But maybe not.
“I was impressed with how many old Volkswagens I found in Texas,” said Boese. “I collect old cars, and the old Volkswagen Beetles and buses are very expensive in Germany.”