I was asked to share a scene from my *new release, Reckless in Texas, that is based on my personal ranch or rodeo experience. The answer is all of them. I was raised on a ranch, attended my first rodeo when I was two weeks old and entered my first sanctioned competition when I was eight years old. My husband and I still compete. Plus we watch rodeo and bull riding on television (and now streaming on the internet) the way other people watch baseball. I’ve seen or experienced pretty much everything in my books—the good, the bad and the just downright hilarious.
In Reckless in Texas, Violet’s family owns Jacobs Livestock, a family business that raises bucking stock and produces rodeos. Joe Cassidy is a bullfighter who also works for an Oregon stock contractor. Both of them handle bulls on a daily basis, so a scene inspired by this particular tale from my family was a natural for the book.
Before Greg and I moved home to the ranch, my parents hired trainees who were enrolled in an international farm workers exchange program. They came from places like England, Sweden, Denmark and New Zealand to spend six months learning how to be Montana ranchers. The age range for the program is eighteen to twenty-five, so a whole lot of them were very young, and most had had very little exposure to life with large animals and vast, empty spaces. To say that their initiation was occasionally eye-opening would be an understatement.
During one of those summers, my dad came across a bull with hoof rot out in the south pasture. He needed to be brought in for treatment, but try explaining that to a ton of beef with a sore foot and a lousy attitude. The bull sulled up and refused to move. Time for Plan B.
In these circumstances, Plan B generally involves hauling the stock trailer and a few portable panels out to the pasture and setting up a trap against the nearest fence. Between my dad, my mother and the wide-eyed trainee, they herded the bull—step by belligerent step—almost to the trailer. At the last second, he wheeled around and took off.
My dad roped him. I’m sure his horse was extremely impressed. The bull hit the end of the rope, jerked around, then took off the other direction and jumped the fence. Dad managed to get him stopped, with one small complication. He was on one end of the rope, the bull was on the other—and there were four strands of barbed wire between them. The nearest gate was a good half mile away. And the pickup and trailer were on Dad’s side of the fence.
He had to hunker down and hold on while Mom jumped in the pickup and rattled and bounced around to the other side of the fence and backed the trailer up to the bull. Then there was some tricky maneuvering that involved a second rope tossed around the bull’s neck and run up into the trailer, then tied off so he couldn’t escape when Dad let go. Eventually, the bull was loaded, hauled to the corral and doctored. The trainee acquired an expanded vocabulary and valuable, hands-on experience in creative livestock management. That night, she called home and excitedly recounted the day’s adventures (probably minus her new vocabulary words).
“That’s amazing. Did you get it on video?” her mother asked.
Sadly, she had not, having been somewhat distracted by the possibility of being freight-trained by an angry bull.
“Darn. I really would’ve like to see it,” her mother said. “Can you get them to do it again?”
She could not. And if you would like to see how Joe and Violet play out their much sexier version of this scene—well, you’ll just have to pick up a copy of Reckless in Texas.
*Edited by blog owner to reflect present time.
Sourcebooks is giving away one print copy of Reckless in Texas to one reader today! US only, please. To enter, just leave a comment on this post telling us if you have any ranch or rodeo experiences of your own, and then fill out the rafflecopter below. Good luck!
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