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Life after Riding the Rodeo

Gerald's professional rodeo career ended by his choice when he was 46.

Gerald had quit riding bareback first because he didn't like that event as well. He quit riding bulls on account of his bad ankle. He rode left-handed so when he went to "step off a bull," as he put it, he had to land on that bad ankle. Gerald adds, "actually, I was still riding bulls good when I quit riding them, I just got to where I had a hard time getting off without hurting my ankle so I quit riding bulls as I got older." He continued riding saddlebroncs, his favorite event, until he was 46. "I rode them as long as I was capable of winning and decided when I got to the point where I'm not quite the live wire I used to be and when my spurs don't reach quite as high, then I'd quit that event too."
Gerald's last professional ride was in his hometown of Strong City, Kansas. He placed on both of his draws but got a re-ride because one of the horses ran off with him, which means he did more running than bucking. The bucking horses didn't make him sore, just that darn run-away. Gerald said, "I was so dang sore on Monday morning and I wasn't rodeoing full time and I just thought . . . if I'm gonna quit, I've never done anything halfway in my life, I'm not gonna quit halfway, so I just quit. I told myself . . .you've never done anything halfway, so why quit halfway!" On that note, Gerald ended his professional rodeo career on a good note, with good rides in his memory, rather than letting rodeo decide when the end should be.


What a career he had . . . but that was just the first career. Gerald found a way to incorporate his love for the sport of rodeo into his daily life without riding those unruly animals. He opened his own manufacturing shop, located in Abilene, Kansas and cleverly called Chap-Parel, where he made chaps and gear bags and other accessories that a professional rodeo cowboy uses. At 85, he still went to the shop everyday to cut out the leather chaps he designed. Gerald originated a 9-plait bull rope to replace the old 5-plait standard. Gerald and his wife Pat went on selling trips around the southern and western U.S. to western stores and also sold their wares via a catalog and through their manufacturing shop.
Every year, during the Abilene rodeo, Gerald and Pat would have all the rodeo cowboys and friends and family over to their ranch for a big Rodeo party. The younger cowboys of the day got a chance to pick Gerald's brain and hear the fascinating stories he could tell for hours. It was a chance for Gerald to give something back but it was also a chance for him to receive - to have the opportunity to share his past and his advice and also to receive the adoration of the new riders (although Gerald adored them just the same!). It was always a pleasant and enlightening experience for everybody.

Gerald was named the first Honorary member of The Wild Bill Hickok Rodeo Committee at the Abilene, Kansas rodeo in 1999.


Gerald signing autographs at the rodeo party in 1999.

Gerald signing autographs for the young cowboys at the rodeo party in 1999

Gerald at the Abilene Rodeo in August 1999.

Gerald at the Abilene Rodeo in August 1999

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