Cowboy Tales From The Rodeo: Squabbling Like Brothers

Calf roper Tim Pharr.
Calf roper Tim Pharr.

Rodeo cowboys basically live on the road, traveling with men and women crazy enough to ride, rope and wrestle live animals for a paycheck. Each day, Hair Balls is asking a different cowboy to tell us a little bit about himself and his wildest story from a life of rodeo.

Name: Tim Pharr
Age: 31
Hometown: Resaca, Georgia
Event: Tie-down roping

I got into rodeo because my family rodeoed on an amateur level, and that's where I started. I didn't grow up on a ranch. My dad made carpet for years, but he had an interest in horses, and he kept some around, so we in turn got interested in it. The first time I tied down a calf, I was five. I've team roped a little bit and dabbled in bull dogging, but I mainly just calf roped.

My road schedule is a little different each year. Most of the time you try to get to 80 or 100 [Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association] rodeos. Then you get to another 25 or 30 side events. We don't get home very often, but you kind of get accustomed to it.

Finding a good traveling partner is very hard. I traveled with my brother for four years, but we both got married, had wives, so we started going our separate ways. Absolutely I've traveled with guys I don't get along with. Still do. I've been left by myself on more than one occasion. People get tired of rodeoing and just pull the plug and go home.

But all the guys in rodeo are a pretty tight-knit family. Everybody might squabble, but for the most part, everyone is pretty tight. We're all kind of brother-like. 

If I didn't rodeo, I don't know what I'd do. I haven't really thought that far ahead. This has always been a real passion of mine and something I've always done, so I've never really looked at anything else. I'm pretty happy with the job. Injury is a concern every time, but I've only had a couple minor bangs and bruises. A couple broken bones and dislocated fingers.

The good thing about calf roping is you can always do it. And if you can't calf rope, the next thing past is team roping. So I really don't care to do anything else.

If someone wants to get into rodeo, they should just start swinging a rope. That'd probably be ground level. Get your event fairly mastered, then start on an amateur level. In professional rodeo, you have to buy a permit, then you have to win so much money on your permit before you can buy your card. For me, I had my permit filled in five rodeos, but for some people, it takes longer. If you're good at what you do, it won't take too long.

The best thing about rodeo is quite a few things. I love everything about rodeo, the good times and bad. Deals like this, you can't pass up. Like the big rodeos take such good care of the competitors, and they house your horses and give you food and pay your entry fees, so there's no replacement for the best 50 rodeos.


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