Baxter Black: Try Me, a rodeo story
When Marvin Garrett nodded his head, no one knew that 8 seconds later the Thomas and Mack Arena would be covered with goose bumps.
Marvin drew “Try Me” in the fourth round at the National Finals Rodeo 1989. He marked her out and hung the steel to’er like the rods on a Union Pacific driver! “Try Me” jumped the track! She slid, slipped and rolled around inside her skin! She punched holes in the arena dirt!
Somewhere in the last 2 seconds, Marvin reached his limit. Everything in his firebox — experience, intuition, talent and training — were at full throttle and blowin’ blue smoke! It was then, over the din of 15,000 rabid fans, Marvin reached down inside himself, I heard him whisper, “Yer mine.”
The hair stood up on the back of my neck. The buckin’ horse went down! From where I sat 60 rows up, it looked like Marvin’s shoulders actually hit the ground. His legs pistoned; the horse exploded; she climbed out of that hold with Marvin stuck to’er like a remora on a shark’s belly.
I don’t believe you could’a cut Marvin loose with an acetylene torch.
The whistle blew. The crowd went wild. Marvin tipped his hat. But if you’d touched him at that moment it would’a been like layin’ your hand on an electric motor. He was hummin’!
Marvin had ridden Try Me with all he had left — will. Will, want to, gumption, grit, whatever it is that allows housewives to lift cars off babies and Samsons to pull down temples.
The crowd waited nervously for the score to be posted. We were nervous because of a loose brick in the façade of rodeo rules that says: Hard to ride horses don’t always score the best. Most of us in the arena that night would have been disgruntled but not surprised if Marvin’s ride had scored out of the money. Style often counts more than difficulty.
But rodeo is not like making a centerpiece out of angel hair and glitter. We’re talkin’ about a horse that can buck you off and a cowboy that claims she can’t. That’s how rodeo began and that night at the National Finals the judges didn’t forget it.
Marvin and his pardner Try Me scored an 82, good for top money in the go round. They deserved it.
As someone who’s achieved the top prize in past years, Matt Ounsworth was more than willing to accept runner-up in this year’s Whittle the Wood Rendezvous.