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The Old Bronc Rider

Clint Eastwood’s new movie, “Cry Macho,” is an adaptation of the 1975 novel of the same name by N. Richard Nash. Eastwood plays the part of an injured rodeo star and washed-up horse breeder past his prime, not willing to rock on the front porch. He takes a job to go to Mexico and bring a man’s young son home and away from his alcoholic mom. On their journey, the horseman finds redemption by teaching the boy what it means to be a good man.

Writing opportunities present themselves to me; they are gifts that are to be shared. My favorite question is, what is your story? I am surprised how many people are eager to tell their testimony, even the accounts they have held close for far too long. Photography opens many doors into typically secret places people may not share. When combined, the written word and an image are potent storytellers. Sometimes the tales told are just a few paragraphs, sometimes a short story, sometimes a novelette. I came across a real-life “Cry Macho” story this year at the North Dakota State Fair.

A Bronc Rider in a Prayer before the ride

In God, I trust

Tension, anticipation, fear, and camaraderie scented with horse shit and leather. I have spent a bit of time behind the chutes watching the wild-eyed Roughstock (The bucking horses and bulls used in bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, and bull riding, usually bred and raised for the job)–and the riders prepping and praying before their chance at ten seconds. Most are but young men; even boys take on the challenge. Cowboys, clowns, support staff, riders, and animals prepped for the performance, about to be out the chute and onto the front stage. The arena packed with parents and children is as enjoyable as any Narnia; not too many places where beer and cotton candy go together.

As I said, stories present themselves as gifts, easily recognizable. Three years ago, I noticed TJ through the lens; he stood out; he was thirty years senior to all the riders. TJ has a look about him; his brand is a clean, pressed shirt, colorful business tie, and a wide, flat-brimmed hat; his boots, jeans, and belt are all cowboy. It is easy to recognize a picture that tells a story; what I saw through the lens that day screamed great story, great photo. TJ’s story could be a short story or a novelette, definitely more than a short paragraph or two in this blog. I intend to post it in chapters after a few interviews.

TJ Camblin lives outside Cody, Wyoming, and loves to ride Broncs. He is fifty years old; some would say he passed his prime, not TJ. We have connected, he told me he intends, with God’s grace, to be back on a bronc next year at 51. To be continued a story of perseverance, hope, and being a better man.

A cowboys wide, flat brimmed hathat

The signature Hat

A Bronc Rider stretching in his saddle before his ride

The Stretch

2 Corinthians 12:9
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses so that Christ’s power may rest on me.