• Vance Kremp

Riding with a Smile

Photo by Deanna Kristensen Photography from Western Horse Review

Writing for me has always been a very sacred and personal act. The words I have committed to paper have been viewed by very few eyes. Letters never received. Poems never read out loud. For me it's a religious act of expression and processing. I have read blogs and articles of numerous writers and found help, inspiration, clarity and direction in the words of others. So for my first article I thought I would share words of wisdom from a rodeo legend I was fortunate enough to meet, Winston Bruce. I found these words of his on roughed up paper living in my gear bag from 2015. And the memories, impressions, and thought processes that flooded out of these old pages to me deserved to be shared. I'm sure many of you know who Mr. Bruce is, and may have been lucky enough to meet him, or blessed to call him friend. But if you are an outsider to rodeo or new to the sport, type his name into Google. My first impression of Winston at the Matt Lait/Winston Bruce School in 2015 was the shining light that seemed to radiate from him. He didn't talk loud. He never needed to. And the smile he always wore spoke volumes of the knowledge, understanding and compassion stored in him. To me it wasn't just the resume of Life he had tallied that was impressive. It was his character. And for me it was inspiring and infectious. For me it has formed a corner foundation in why I started this website and what I hope it can achieve. So without further ado, Advice from Winston Bruce.

Equipment for Saddle Bronc Riding

  1. Bronc riding saddle. Makes, models, length, stirrups size, strip leathers, hat- straw or felt.

  2. Cowboy boots--size--width--how high is the top, leather versus rubber soles.

  3. Spurs--length of spur shank, turned in or straight shank.

  4. Spur Rowel--size of hole in rowel--size of rowel--why?

  5. Spur straps--over the boots and under the boot--leather with buckle--wire.

  6. The soles of our boots need to be flat where the strip makes contact with your boot that will be just in front of the boot heel.

  7. At all times your boots must come off easy, reason--reduce hanging your body in a strip.

  8. Chaps are to protect your legs. Dress your chaps up any way you want, make them a lifestyle to set your brand. They are tough enough to protect your leg, take resin and stick.

  9. Buck Rein, braided rope that fits your hand, the rope will not burn your hand and should slide through it.

  10. Hat, preference a felt cowboy hat. Why felt? it works as a bit of a shock absorber should your head hit something hard or something that will cut it.

Other Things in Your Gear Bag

  • Rosin in a sock.

  • A sharp jack knife in your rigging bag. Not to big or some border guard will have your knife in his pocket.

  • I don't know what a felony is except friends of mine that have one never cross any borders.

  • All the parts you may need for a quick saddle or rigging. Lace, leather, punch, tape, band aids. Yup those also. Be prepared some rodeo's don't have sports medicine or a drug store.

  • A note book, a couple pens.

  • Action pictures of you for autographs.

  • A bottle of water.

  • Saddle soap.

  • A spare strip.

  • Spare buck rein.

Bronc Riding with a Smile

  • Practice that smile, it must be on your face getting out of your truck, getting into your truck and when signing autographs.

  • Whatever event you're competing in you be the professional-- lead the way--in the arena--at church--or in the beer garden. You are the good guy. The kind of person other people's mother loves. Make that you.


This was all transcribed straight from his handout. Yes being a bareback rider myself not all of it applies, like the line of boots coming off easy. But what always stuck with me was the Riding with a Smile. That no matter what situation, if you can't find something to smile about after you're through it, maybe you need to have another look at yourself. And be the professional.

I now return these old pages to my gear bag where their reminders can live until I need them again.

#firstpost #rodeoresource #empowersustainconquer #wisodomfromalegend #ridewithasmile

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