A Father’s Sacrifice

 photo by Matt Cohen   

photo by Matt Cohen

 

I’ll never repay everything he’s done for me.

by Cory Solomon

In 2010, with only a couple weeks left in the season, I was fifty-ninth in the standings and sitting at home in Prairie View, Texas, feeling sorry for myself. I was entered in rodeos in Albuquerque, Amarillo, Texarkana, El Paso and New Braunfels. I had no shot at making the National Finals Rodeo. And I needed a horse. I ain’t even going back out, I thought.

“The devil has you exactly where he wants you,” my Dad, Larry, told me.

In the barn at the house was a Brazilian horse named Buzini. Dad was taking care of it for a buddy of his. The slack round at Albuquerque started in thirteen hours, and Prairie View was twelve hours away.

“You need to get to Albuquerque,” Dad said. “Keep roping. Try to break into the top fifty so you get invited to Houston next year.”

Dad arranged for me to ride Buzini. I borrowed my brother’s truck and drove straight through. I got there eight minutes after the slack round started. I drew good calves and won both of my rounds, adding fifty-seven hundred dollars to my total.

I went on to win New Braunfels and another ten thousand. By the end of the season, I jumped to forty-second in the standings, good enough to earn a spot at Houston.

I still needed a horse for the 2011 season. Dad sold all his yearling cows so I could get the down payment on a loan to buy Buzini. That horse changed my whole career, and Dad made it happen. Buzini and I went to the NFR in 2011 and 2012. (In 2013, I finished on the bubble at sixteenth after I lost Buzini, but that’s another story.) My career skyrocketed because of that horse, and I got him because my Dad made a personal sacrifice. I can never repay that.

I owe Dad for so much more. He taught me everything I know. I started roping when I was four. He found my first roping pony. The pony was really slow, but Dad wanted it to be a good introduction for me. I started tying calves when I was five or six. Even though I couldn’t get the calf down, Dad still ran calf after calf for me.

He always was taking me to jackpots and junior ropings. We didn’t have a lot of money, but Dad found a way to pay my entry fees. Everyone laughed, because they knew I wasn’t going to win anything, but I didn’t know that. Dad acted like I could be a winner every time I left the box.

Dad didn’t grow up with a lot of money. He roped but never went pro or anything. He worked so that we could follow our dreams. I have two older brothers, Kenneth and Lawrence, who are also ropers, and Dad has been there for them just as much as he’s been there for me.

When I was about thirteen, Dad took a job hauling roping calves for Prairie View A&M University. On the weekends, I had youth rodeos, so he couldn’t always be there with me, but he always made sure someone took me. That taught me at a young age that I could win by myself.

Once I turned fifteen, if there was a rodeo within an hour and a half of home, he’d let me take the truck and trailer and go. Heck, I didn’t even have my license, just a driving permit. Obviously you’re not supposed to do that, but he trusted me.

Anyone who knows my Dad knows he doesn’t like the spotlight. When I go to the NFR, he’s real quiet. He avoids any kind of attention. He’s not a flashy guy. He doesn’t like to take credit, but I wouldn’t be where I am today without him.

Dad’s part of the reason I still live in Prairie View. To this day, I live next door to my Mom and Dad. When I’m rodeoing, Dad takes care of my cows like they were his own. He calls me before my runs to tell me to say a prayer and get it done. As long as God gives me health and strength, I’ll do whatever I can to help him and my Mom.

Rodeo is the only sport that when you make it to the pros you need more help. There are horses to haul, planes to catch, and he’s always been there. I’ll never repay everything he’s done for me. He’s been more of a dad than I could ever ask for.

 photo courtesy of Cory Solomon

photo courtesy of Cory Solomon