Jodi Thomas: A Certain Kind of Man


A certain kind of man —

Throughout history there has been that certain kind of man—the hero?  The daredevil?  The fool who risks death?  — Who rushes in when other men would have hesitated.

In my writing I often create heroes who fight for what is right, who win battles, who save the day, but there is another kind of man born for adventure. In flight, we call them the barnstormers.  In the Army, they might be the Special Forces who go in when the odds are against them.  And in rodeo, they are the bull riders.

I once did research on pre-WWI pilots. I found that some were gamblers playing with death but most loved the thrill of skating on the razor’s edge. (The book was CHERISH THE DREAM)  These kinds of men are like mountain climbers and people who do extreme sports.

For the past few months I’ve been doing research on bull riders. Just by accident one afternoon I was talking to a man in his early forties who was a fireman. We were both waiting for a play to start. I mentioned that I was writing about rodeo bull riders. He tugged up his sleeve and showed me a long ugly scar running up his arm.

“That’s just one,” he said. “There are others.”

The character in my latest book is named Noah. I watched this fireman sitting beside me and in my mind my Noah came alive before my eyes. All at once this man became an older version of Noah. The fireman might be older and wiser than my young man, but the love for the rodeo was still there.

I watched him move to the edge of his chair as he talked, widening his long legs as if getting ready for the gate to open.

“I started college,” he said. “Into my sophomore year I got to going with a friend to rodeos. At first we rode to pick up a little extra money and for the thrill. Then we got our cards and took it seriously. School became less and less important as I began to ride every weekend. It was almost like a drug. We lived for the ride.”

He laughed and said, “It’s been almost twenty years but I can feel the adrenaline running through my body just thinking about the ride. If I thought I could still ride, I’d be in line to draw a bull right now.”

I kept talking to him because I was no longer in Lubbock waiting for a play; I was talking to my Noah from Harmony, Texas.

Only my Noah is 21 and he’s been hurt for the third time, and this time he’s afraid to climb back on and ride. His dad was a national champion. The whole town thinks he’s a hero living the life they’d all love to live.

Once in a while reality and fiction mix for me and I love it. 

Noah was called Preacher in WELCOME TO HARMONY because when he rode in high school rodeos he got religion. In SOMEWHERE ALONG THE WAY coming out on Nov. 2, 2010, he’s started riding pro. In my third Harmony book, he’s hurt.

Come along with me and Noah and Reagan’s journey. I promise you’ll fall in love with them and the town of Harmony, Texas.



 Contest:  In my story Noah rides once using a Suicide wrap.  Leave a comment and tell me your stories of attending or being in a rodeo. If you include the definition of this kind of wrap, you’ll be in the drawing for a copy of SOMEWHERE ALONG THE WAY.  We’ll draw a winner on Sunday.

And let me know how you like the video.



Jodi Thomas is the NY Times and USA Today bestselling author of 31 novels and 8 short story collections. As of July 2006, she was the 11th woman to be inducted into the RWA Hall of Fame. She is also currently serving as the Writer in Residence at West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas.
 You can visit her at

Whatcha Gonna Do with a Cowboy?

Rodeo Cowboy

Whatcha Gonna Do With a Cowboy?

 Chris Amundson, the editor of Nebraska Life, spoke at a Nebraska Press Women’s conference I attended and I loved listening to Chris talk about the great things to be found in Nebraska.

However it was a little distracting to have this picture blown up into a poster right behind his back. It was the cover for an article they did on small town rodeo.

Here’s a link to a lot more great rodeo pictures.

It hits close for me because we have a rodeo in the next town down the road called the Hoot Gibson Memorial Rodeo in Tekamah, Nebraska. And we’ve got neighbors who are big time into rodeo, entering and competing when the rodeo is in the area, although they don’t follow the circuit.

So today I’m including a little history, a quick look at events and some great, great pictures all about rodeo.Chris Ledoux

 Fun Fact: Rodeo is the official state sport of Wyoming and Texas, and the iconic silhouette image of a Bucking Horse and Rider is a federal and state registered trademark of the State of Wyoming.

 Rodeo Quote: I can remember sittin’ in a cafe when I first started in rodeo, and waitin’ until somebody got done so I could finish what they left.
Chris LeDoux(1948-2005) Real  life cowboy and Country western singer of Whatcha Gonna Do With a Cowboy among many great hits.

Barrel Racing




Main Rodeo Events

Barrel Racing

Barrel racing is an exclusively women’s sport. In a barrel race, horse and rider gallop around a cloverleaf pattern of barrels, making agile turns without knocking the barrels over. Look at that picture on the left. Really notice how low the horse is, almost on it’s side.


A calf is roped around the neck by a lariat, the horse stops and sets back on the rope while the cowboy dismounts, runs to the calf, throws it to the ground and ties three feet together. (If the horse throws the calf, the cowboy must lose time waiting for the calf to get back to its feet so that the cowboy can do the work. The job of the horse is to hold the calf steady on the rope) This activity is still practiced on modern working ranches for branding, medical treatment, and so on.

 In spite of popular myth, most modern “broncs” are not in fact wild horses, but are more commonly spoiled riding Bronc Ridinghorses or horses bred specifically as bucking stock. Rough stock events also use well-trained riding horses ridden by “pick up men” (or women), of whom there are usually at least two, tasked with assisting fallen riders and helping successful riders get safely off the bucking animal.

Bronc riding

There are two divisions in rodeo, bareback bronc riding, where the rider is only allowed to hang onto a bucking horse with a type of surcingle called a “rigging,” and saddle bronc riding, where the rider is allowed a specialized western saddle without a horn (for safety) and may hang onto a heavy lead rope, called a bronc rein, which is attached to a halter on the horse.

Bull riding Rodeo Bullriding

An event where the cowboys ride full-grown bulls instead of horses. Although skills and equipment similar to those needed for bareback bronc riding are required, the event differs considerably from horse riding competition due to the danger involved. Because bulls are unpredictable and may attack a fallen rider, Rodeo clowns, now known as Bullfighters, work during bull riding competition to help prevent injury to competitors. 

VaquerosSome interesting rodeo facts: Rodeo stresses its western folk hero image and its being a genuinely American creation. But in fact it grew out of the practices of Spanish ranchers and their Mexican ranch hands (vaqueros), a mixture of cattle wrangling and bull fighting that dates back to the sixteenth-century conquistadors. But you know…what does American mean if not a melting pot from all over the world? Bill Pickett

 There would probably be no steer wrestling at all in American rodeo were it not for a black cowboy from Texas named Bill Pickettwho devised his own unique method of bulldogging steers. He jumped from his horse to a steer’s back, bit its upper lip, and threw it to the ground by grabbing its horns. He performed at local central Texas fairs and rodeos and was discovered by an agent, who signed him on a tour of the West with his brothers. He received sensational national publicity with his bulldogging exhibition at the 1904 Cheyenne Frontier Days. This brought him a contract with the famous 101 Ranch in Oklahoma and its traveling Wild West exhibitions, where he spent many years performing in the United States and abroad. I’ve seen bull riding competitions and it’s a mean sport. I don’t care for it. But the crowd goes wild.

 I remember a few years ago some company was selling ‘Great Rodeo Moments’ on TV and they’d run these awful clips, over and over, of riders getting gored by a bull or trampled by a horse. I went and looked at YouTube but honestly the clips there are pretty hard to watch. So I’m not sending you there. Go at your own risk.

Some Great Rodeo Movies—it seems like they always have them riding the bulls.

8 Seconds-starring Luke Perry

Electric Horseman – starring Robert Redford

Pure Country – Starring George StraitPetticoat Ranch

My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys – Starring Scott Glenn.

 If you want to see some more really cool rodeo photos by Erik Stenbakken who took the picture at the top of this that I’m calling Mud Soaked Cowboy go here: Click on Portfolios and then Rodeos. Very talented guy.

Any rodeo fans here today?

Seriously, have you ever been to the rodeo?

Have you got a favorite rodeo movie or rodeo cowboy I didn’t mention? What’s a cowboy got in him that makes him climb on that bull? There are cowgirls out there, too, and they’re pretty tough. Let’s hear rodeo memories, opinions or just tell me Whatcha Gonna Do With a Cowboy……