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The Natural Horseman – Legends Never Die

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By Steve Stevens 

If you have been lucky enough in your life, you have met a true legend, a human who has transcended life and myth. Sometimes that is an artist, a sports figure, a first responder or just a neighbor whom everybody around town knows for a lifetime of goodwill. My dear friend Sonny Jim was one of those legends. He passed a few years back in a gunfight helping a man in need. He would have celebrated his 76th birthday recently, so I have been thinking about him a lot lately.

Steve Stevens with Sonny in El Morrow, New Mexico in 1991. (Photo courtesy Steve Stevens)

Sonny lived ten lifetimes: he was a basketball player, musician, and one of the all time great rodeo cowboys. If you walk down the streets of Gallup, New Mexico, and have a conversation with someone about Sonny, the stories they tell are straight out of a movie.

A guy once told me at the Indian rodeo finals that when Sonny won the world in the steer wrestling championship, that he had a cast all the way up his leg with blood squirting out, and that it was the most amazing thing he had ever seen. If I remember correctly, I think Sonny just had a knee brace on. But Sonny did things people had never seen before.

He was proud of his Native American heritage. I can’t tell you how many times I saw Sonny give his last dollar to someone in need. If anybody ever wanted to learn how to ride horses or rodeo, his door was always open. And that was to anyone. If you wanted to learn, there wasn’t a man in the world who enjoyed teaching more than Sonny. I saw him do things that most normal humans couldn’t do in toughness, kindness and spirituality.

Sonny’s greatest gift was that if he saw that you tried hard at anything, he believed in you and would support and inspire your dreams.

He truly was a legend. The other day, I wanted to honor him so I made sure to put a first ride on a little filly we have in training on his birthday. Sonny loved starting horses and working with them probably more than anyone I had ever been around. So although it wasn’t as wild as he might have liked, I started the mare the way I used to start colts with him, which was with another colt being in the pen with us. It is really a great technique because it puts your colt’s mind on the other horse and if you can get the other horse to move out, yours will follow easily.

I say legends never die because every step I take on a horse, Sonny’s spirit is with me.

I was proud to start this little filly in his honor. Miss you old friend. HAPPY BIRTHDAY.

Angel’s First Ride. (Photo courtesy of Steven Stevens)

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Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch…

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By Rayford Pullen

Other than Valentine’s Day, for those of us in the cattle business, there is not a lot good about the month of February in North Texas. The weather the past two Februarys has been really tough, so here is hoping we do not have a three-peat.

Since we are in the middle of winter, we can now begin our spring calving the first of the month and hopefully have it completed before the first of April. I have previously mentioned that when we compared the weaning weights of our February and March born calves to our April and May born calves, the earlier born calves had a weaning weight advantage of 111 pounds due to the fact the earlier born calves were older and had a functioning rumen, their mommas are giving a lot of milk and the forages are entering the best 120 days of the year.

To read more, pick up a copy of the February issue of NTFR Magazine. To subscribe call 940-872-5922.

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Maddie Rose: Rising Texas Country Music Artist

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It is difficult to find one definition of Texas country music, but one description seems to repeat more than others; a style of music known for fusing traditionalist root sounds with the outspoken, care-free views of outlaw country. Texas country music is much more instrumental than traditional, blending together a mix of subgenres, from bluegrass to Western swing.

No matter the definition used, one thing is for certain, Texas country is one of the most rapidly growing genres of music beloved by fans across the country, and as the popularity of the Texas sound continues to rise, so does the competition for musicians to stand out.

However, one musician hailing from North Texas has shown she has what it takes. Sixteen-year-old Maddie Rose claims the key is hard work, talent, and honestly, a little bit of luck. As an artist, she has been honing her talent since she was just a child, starting on piano, picking up guitar, acting, modeling, and developing her skills along the way at the DFW Performing Arts Conservatory.

To read more, pick up a copy of the February issue of NTFR Magazine. To subscribe call 940-872-5922.

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The Garden Guy: Are Y’all Primitive Camping Out Here?

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By Jelly Cocanougher

With a discouraging and worrisome look, the park rangers moved along, back towards the trailhead entrance. We must have had Texan written across our faces, headstrong and willing to make our own decisions when faced. They were worried we would get lost as night fell to the base of the mountains.

To read more, pick up a copy of the January issue of NTFR Magazine. To subscribe call 940-872-5922.

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