Rob Ford

Rob Ford

Never been a bull that couldn’t be rode;

Never been a rider that couldn’t be throwed.

And that, dear readers, is about as much of Will James cowboy poetry as I know.

But I found myself lounging in front of the television watching a professional bull riding rodeo on a frigid Sunday afternoon in the middle of the season’s coldest weekend. 

I don’t know much about bull riding and I don’t have any favorite riders or bulls. That relative ignorance usually means that I’ll find myself watching for things other than what happens during the action. Most rides last less than eight seconds, so there's a lot of time for my mind to wander.

About three riders in I noticed that, aside from the obligatory cowboy boots and the timelessly fashionable cowboy hats, the riders were each wearing the coolest cowboy shirts.

Nice looking cowboy shirts.

Shirts that sport pastel colors, different hued yokes, fancy piping and cuffs and plackets nicely adorned with mother of pearl-inlayed buttons. Each shirt freshly pressed and spotlessly clean. Most riders donned the added protection of advertising-augmented flak jackets and some swapped out their cowboy hats for hockey helmets, but every rider wore a sweet looking cowboy shirt.

Nevermind that the activity they were about to participate in would take less than eight seconds and the most likely outcome to the activity would involve them prostrate on the arena floor. The moment they flop commences scrambling through the dirt to escape the 1,500 pound animal that they were trying to “ride." 

A round of golf takes me between three and four hours. Golfers walk from hole to hole and the only part of us that touches the ground are the soles of our shoes and the faces of our golf clubs.

A game of bowling takes about 15 minutes. Bowlers slip and slide around bowling alleys and never hit the ground.

I mention those two sports, because when it comes to sports attire, I own a stack of golf shirts, a couple of bowling shirts and one forlorn Indianapolis Colts hoodie that I bought when my daughter lived in Indiana. I do have a Tigers hat, but I don’t own any official team jerseys, jackets or other sportswear.

Further, nearly every golf and bowling shirt in my closet has some sort of grease stain or spot on it leftover from a poorly-eaten, mid-round hotdog or a mid-frame bratwurst.

I don’t own any cowboy shirts, but I think that I should consider changing that.

At least I could count on never getting a grease stain on it while riding bulls if I took up bull riding and got myself a sharp looking cowboy shirt. Ground in dirt and whatever else lays on bull riding arena floors, maybe, but no grease stains. 

Luckily, the bull riding show ended and something else came on to occupy my midwinter wild hare chasing mind but not before I was able to craft my own version of cowboy Will James’ opening bull riding advice:

Never been a rider that couldn’t be hurt:

Never been a grease spot on a bull rider’s shirt.

Rob Ford was born and raised in northern Michigan. He lives in Elk Rapids where he owns and operates Riverside Title. He can be reached via email at

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