- Special Sections
ALVA, Okla. â€“ There are times in each personâ€™s life when a little tough love is needed to help him or her along the right path.
Trisha Price got a taste of it during practice last week, and it led her to the breakaway roping winnerâ€™s circle this past weekend at the Fort Scott (Kan.) Community College rodeo. It was the first time in her two-and-a-half years of Central Plains Region rodeo that the Faith, S.D., cowgirl earned a breakaway title.
â€śI was really struggling, and I cried three days in practice last week,â€ť said Price, who received a little motivation from former Ranger, Perry Dietz. â€śPerry made me get off the horse and run. I was throwing a fit, so I had to run down the arena and back and help bring the calves back.
â€śIt definitely gave me the mental toughness I needed.â€ť
Dietz also helped in other ways. Price dismounted her own horse and borrowed Dietzâ€™s palomino mare, Trudy. It paid off in southeastern Kansas, where Price scored a 2.8-second run in the first round to finish in a tie for fifth place; she followed that up with a 3.1-second run to win the short round and the two-run aggregate.
â€śThat was a good little boost of confidence,â€ť she said.
Yes, it was. Her poise came from many outlets, including Trudy.
â€śSwitching horses was another variable,â€ť Price said. â€śSheâ€™s a nice little mare. It was hard to get on a different horse, because theyâ€™re two completely different horses, but I was blessed that he was willing to let me ride her.â€ť
It paid off quite well. Price moved from out of the running to ninth in the breakaway roping standings in the region with 145. She trails the leader by 143.3 points. She could, in one fell swoop, move up to the top spot in the Central Plains with another strong weekend â€“ the next opportunity will be at the Southeastern Oklahoma State University rodeo, set for April 3-4 in Durant, Okla.
â€śWith the amount of points that separate ninth to first, a lot can happen,â€ť Price said.
Price led the way for a strong showing by the Northwestern women, which finished third in Fort Scott with 165 points. Lauren Barnes of Buckeye, Ariz., finished second in breakaway and eighth in goat tying to place second in the all-around standings, while Kelsey Pontius of Watsontown, Pa., finished sixth in breakaway.
In the menâ€™s race, Stephen Culling of Fort St. John, British Columbia, won the steer wrestling title with a two-run cumulative time of 11.0 seconds. The men finished with 215 points, good enough for fifth place in the team race. They also held on to fourth place in the region standings. Other short-round qualifiers were tie-down roper Jess Woodward (second) of Dupree, S.D.; bulldogger Jimmy Hoke (seventh) of Connellsville, Pa.; and team ropers Trey Young of Dupree and Chase Lako of Hunter, N.D., who finished fourth roping together.
â€śThe matches weâ€™ve been having in practice really help,â€ť Price said. â€śFor us to compete against each other â€“ and to beat each other and still be able to get along and support each other â€“ helps us every time we get to a rodeo.â€ť
Thatâ€™s a good thing.
GUTHRIE, Okla. â€“ Keith Isley is one of the most decorated clowns in rodeo.
Now Isley will bring his brand of funny to the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo, scheduled for 11 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 10; 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 11; and 1 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 12.
â€śI thoroughly enjoy watching people have a good time and enjoy what I do or what I say,â€ť said Isley, 55, now in his 21st year in ProRodeo. â€śJust seeing people enjoy it and have a good time. Sometimes later in the year, youâ€™ll get home and have some letters for you and have some pictures of you that kids have drawn.
â€śItâ€™s the little things that really make me feel like Iâ€™m accomplishing something.â€ť
He has accomplished much. Heâ€™s been named the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Clown of the Year six times, the Coors Man in the Can five times, the PRCA Comedy Act of the Year six times and PRCA Specialty Act of the Year three times. For three straight years, from 2009-11, he won the funnymanâ€™s trifecta: Clown of the Year, Coors Man in the Can and Comedy Act of the Year.
In addition to being one of the best funny men in the business, he also has some of the top acts in rodeo. Heâ€™ll bring it all with him when he arrives at the Lazy E.
â€śI enjoy what I do, and itâ€™s a lot of fun when youâ€™ve got a good crowd and a good announcer,â€ť Isley said. â€śWhen you see people with smiles on their faces, and then people come up to you and appreciate what you do, that makes what we do a lot more worthwhile.â€ť
Isley sees a lot of smiles and has for much of his professional life. Though he was considered a class clown, being a comedian didnâ€™t come easily.
â€śOh, it was natural if I knew you, but if I didnâ€™t know you, it was really hard,â€ť he said. â€śWhen I started the comedy, that was really hard for me to get used to because I didnâ€™t know those people watching me.â€ť
He has since overcome his stage fright to become one of the most sought-after entertainers in the game. Thereâ€™s good reason for it, too. Part of a good clownâ€™s job is to fill any down time that could some during the event. If thereâ€™s a pause in the action, Isley knows itâ€™s his turn to step up to the plate.
â€śI like to play on the crowd,â€ť he said. â€śI like to have fun with people that like to have fun.â€ť
It works, but Isley has a lot of tricks up his sleeve. He loves working with animals and allowing them to steal the show. When itâ€™s all put together, itâ€™s an award-winning showcase that reaches so many people.
â€śBack in 1999, I worked a rodeo in Belle Foursche (S.D.); during the trick riding act, I was talking to the announcer and was just looking around,â€ť he said. â€śThatâ€™s when I saw the contestants standing all around the arena just watching.â€ť
When Isley left town, he reflected on that image and still considers it one of his greatest honors. Later that year, he earned was named the Specialty Act of the Year for the first time.
â€śSince then, Iâ€™ve won it a few times,â€ť Isley said. â€śIâ€™ve undoubtedly been the most blessed man whoâ€™s ever bought a PRCA membership.â€ť
The fans are pretty blessed, too.