LAS VEGAS â Terri Powers thinks there are more pertinent story lines about the Western lifestyle than most books written on the subject portray.
âWhen I decided to write books for the rodeo crowd, I saw that most cowboy books out there are either historical, old-timey stuff or Western romance novels,â said Powers, an author from Albuquerque, N.M. âInstead, I want to do entertaining books that are more relevant to todayâs cowboy.â
Sheâs done it so far. Powers wrote Gold Buckles Donât Lie, the Untold Tale of Fred Whitfield, which was released in 2013. Itâs been quite a success, especially among rodeo fans that have followed the career of Whitfield, an eight-time world champion calf roper and pro rodeoâs most decorated African-American cowboy.
This December, Powers releases âCowboy Tails, Good Olâ Gals Tell All,â a collection of short stories from women who have loved cowboys âto varying degrees of success.â She will be in Las Vegas from Dec. 5-14 for signings and appearances during the upcoming National Finals Rodeo.
âThe book is based on my decision at 8 years old to never marry a cowboy,â Powers said. âI remember being quite certain, even as a little kid, that I didnât want to end up with a cowboy.â
Itâs something she never thought about again until writing Whitfieldâs story.
âIt was then that I realized there are some really awesome women out there who would not have anything but a cowboy,â she said. âI wondered what they knew that I didnât, and Cowboy Tails was born. Regardless of the specifics, I figured the womenâs stories would be a good time, and they are.â
Rodeo life is nothing new to Powers, whose father designed and built rodeo equipment during the 1960s. Her older brother was a tie-down roper, and her son is a team roper. Having seen the heartbreak rodeo can bring, she was never interested in it herself.
âI have always loved horses and still do,â she said.
Though she wanted to remain tied to cowboys and the rodeo way of life, Powers wanted her second book to be as far removed from her first as she could get.
âGold Buckles was about somebody; Cowboy Tails is about everybody,â Powers said. âI started with my friends, women that I knew had been with cowboys. Very early, I knew I was on to something, so I next took it to the cyber crowd and talked to woman all over the country. I listened to them tell of the perks and perils of life with a cowboy, then, at the end, I analyzed my decision based on their stories.â
And, oh, what stories.
âThere are 43 chapters,â Powers said. âThe majority of them are one woman telling one story in one chapter, however, there are three or four women with stories throughout the book, which is structured to follow the course of a womanâs life: The first ones, the last ones and all the ones in between.â
Powers interviewed every woman, most of whom remain anonymous.
âThe only common thread among the woman was that they had loved a cowboy, so their stories are all over the map,â she said. âI heard stories about stereotypical ornery, rotten rodeo cowboys, as well as stories of men who made me proud to me an American. They were very funny, but also very heart-warming.â
There are stories from women through the generations.
âOne of my favorite stories is from a woman whose father was a cowboy, but her mother was a city girl from San Diego who fell for all of his outlandish stories,â Powers said. âHe once told her that cockleburs were porcupine embryos, and if you put them into the oven, they would hatch. She believed him.â
Bull riders really took a hit in this book, and Powers said there were some wild stories about them. While she wasnât too surprised about the bull riders, Powers said she was surprised to hear about another side of often chauvinist cowboys.
âMany women talked about how their cowboys pushed them to do more than they ever thought they could,â she said. âI found that paradox interesting. These supposed chauvinists often had more faith in their womenâs abilities than the women themselves had, and pushed them far beyond their comfort zone.â
Updated information on Las Vegas signings and appearances will be made on the bookâs website, www.CowboyTails.com. Some of the storytellers will be with her periodically during the NFR.
So why is this the best time to release the book?
âI wanted to get the biggest start I could,â she said. âI think it will make an awesome Christmas gift. This book is angled toward women, but in the end, I think it appeals to everybody.â
She also will begin investigating her next book while in Las Vegas.
âThe women have had their turn, but I think my next book will allow the cowboys to have their say,â Powers said. âIâll be talking to as many cowboys as I can during this yearâs NFR and have Cowboy Tails II ready to release at next yearâs NFR.â
When the National Finals Rodeo heads to Las Vegas every December, 119 contestants will battle for the top prize money in the game. They bring with them hundreds of thousands of fans to the Nevada desert looking for stories of cowboys, cowgirls and the Western lifestyle.
Terri Powers has found a perfect niche with rodeo fans and plans to stay there for years to come.
RANDLETT, Utah â As a child, Joe Frost did what most kids do: He let his imagination take him anywhere it wanted to go.
Even then, his imagination carried Frost along the rodeo trail. Itâs what he knew. Itâs how he lived.
âWe didnât play football or baseball,â he said. âWhen we played, we pretended we were at the NFR. We based everything off rodeoing, winning go-rounds. We didnât know anything else and didnât want to do anything else.â
Childhood is about wonder and fascination. Itâs about playing in the dirt and dreaming big dreams.
Joe Frost is living his dreams in rodeo. The 2014 National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association bull riding champion will now carry his amazing season over to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, the sportâs marquee event that takes place Dec. 4-13 in Las Vegas.
âItâs something thatâs been a goal and a plan for as long as I can remember,â said Frost, 22, of Randlett. âItâs everybodyâs dream to ride at the national finals and to win a world title. You canât win a world title without making it to the national finals.
âWhen youâre in youth rodeos and high school rodeos and college rodeos, youâre riding with that goal in mind. The films that everybody watches are from the NFR. That is the ultimate goal and the ultimate place to ride at.â
Frost earned his way to the gameâs grand championship by winning $69,558 through the rigors of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association regular season. He is 11th in the world standings heading into Las Vegas, where he will battle for his share of the $6.375 million purse. Go-round winners will collect $19,000 each round for 10 nights.
But thereâs so much more to Frost, who also competes in tie-down roping and steer wrestling when his schedule allows. In fact, the Utah cowboy earned the 2014 Linderman Award for excelling in both roughstock and timed events.
âI enter about 12 to 15 rodeos roping calves and steer wrestling and go to about 80 to 90 in bull riding,â he said. âIâm not consistently roping calves and steer wrestling, and itâs making it hard to be as competitive as I should be.
âIn steer wrestling and calf roping, there are so many variables with your horse, drawing the animals you can win on and everything that goes with it. You can virtually not get on a practice bull all year long and still be sharp in bull riding just by competing.â
In addition to competing in ProRodeo, Frost is in the middle of his senior season at Oklahoma Panhandle State University in the small community of Goodwell, Okla. In 2013, he was one of the key members of the Panhandle State team that won the menâs college title. This past June, he rode all four bulls at the College National Finals Rodeo to claim the bull riding title.
He is the only contestant in this yearâs NFR field of 119 contestants who has a chance to win the college title and the world title in the same year. The last time that was done was in 2007, when Panhandle State rodeo team alumnus Taos Muncy did so in saddle bronc riding, becoming just the third cowboy in PRCA history to have won both crowns in the same calendar year.
âWhen I first came to look at school, they have an office, and itâs Taos Muncyâs,â said Frost, who has sponsorship arrangements with Rodeo Mart and Wrangler. â(Coach) Craig Latham told me, âIf you win the college title and the world title in the same year, weâll build you an office.â â
That certainly was appealing to a young man looking toward his future, but there were several other reasons why he chose to move from the Utah mountains to the Plains of the Oklahoma Panhandle. He was offered an opportunity to grow as a cowboy and as a young man; both are vital for the Frost family: dad, Shane; mom, Lisa; brothers Josh, 19, and Jate, 13; and sister, Jacelyn, 10.
âCollege rodeo as allowed me to get an education,â he said. âCraig and Robert (Etbauer) have been really good with me to go to ProRodeos. Itâs a huge priority for me to win the region team title. As much as Iâd love to win the college bull riding title again, it would be more important for me to help win the team title again.â
While the team approach is amazing for college, Frost has individual goals for his inaugural visit to the NFR. He knows itâs going to take a lot of talent and a little luck for it all to come together, but thatâs the way the bull riding bull bounces.
âMy goal is to win the average and leave as the world champion,â Frost said. âMy main goal is to ride 10 bulls one at a time. If I can keep my focus on my bull riding, then I need to take advantage of the opportunities that are presented. Iâm going to keep it simple and keep it about riding bulls, then everything else will take care of itself.â
Thatâs a brilliant outlook for such a young cowboy, but he was raised that way. Shane Frost rode bulls, then raised a family on their Utah ranch. He and Lisaâs four children have been involved in riding horses and ranching all their lives. Shane built an arena just feet from the front door of the house, and the kids have had every opportunity to ride, rope and wrestle.
âOur family life was based off ranching, and every night we were out there practicing,â Joe Frost said. âMy family is really close. Itâs important when we can be together.
âAs far as my bull riding career, Iâve never been to a bull riding school. Being around my dad, it doesnât matter what youâre doing, he can relate it back to bull riding and rodeo. You need to have a good attitude.â
That has gone a long ways in making Joe Frost who he is. Thatâs why heâs going to the NFR in 2014. Thatâs why heâs 22 years old and already a champion.