Chasing my Dreams and Cattle

"Chase your dreams, you might catch one." -Unknown As a stock show kid, my dreams have always been different from my other classmates. Instead of dreaming about playing a sport in college, or going pro, I dream about showing at major stock shows, like American Royal, National Western, Fort Worth, North American International Livestock Exposition, Houston, or San Antonio. I never thought about actually achieving my dreams because I knew my family didn’t have a lot of money, and that we didn’t buy the high end club calves that you see at these shows.

"Mom, can I ask you a question?" I said hesitantly. For some reason I felt like I knew what the answer would be already. I braced myself for the “no” that was about to come and waited for her response.

"Sure, go ahead."

"Can I show at Denver my senior year?" I spit out.

"Maybe. We'll see."

In order to convince her that it was a good idea I wanted to go and visit and get a feel of what the National Western was like. We had visited the American Royal in October of 2015 to watch the market steer show, and to get an idea of how everything was run and set up, in case I was able to show there my senior year.

"Catch-A-Calf? What is Catch-A-Calf?" I wondered to myself. I had stumbled the schedule for the National Western and saw a show called the Catch-A-Calf show. I had heard of the American Royal calf scramble, and had a friend participate in it. But I hadn’t heard of Catch-A-Calf. I quickly did a Google search and found a PDF application for the program. I skimmed over the rules and found that unlike the Calf Scramble from the Royal, I was still eligible to participate in the Catch-A-Calf program!

From there I printed and filled the application out and got my 4-H extension agent’s signature. I hoped that my mom would see the initiative I took and would sign it as well.

After a few days of convincing and explaining what the program was* over and over again, my mom finally caved and signed the paper and mailed it in for me.

Since the program is based the number of applicants most everyone gets in, unless they have over 80 applicants. Because I knew there was a chance that I might not be accepted I didn’t tell my friends or extended family just in case.

After weeks of waiting my mom got a call. She picked up and heard the great news; That I had been accepted into the 2016-2017 NWSS Catch a Calf program!!! I got the text from her and I was ecstatic!  I WAS HEADED TO DENVER.

The day that I was to report for the Catch-A-Calf was January 16, 2016. It was a Saturday and I was nervous all day. I hadn't practiced catching any calves like I had planned on doing and I was nervous I was going to not be able to catch a calf.

2:00 came so soon and I met by the doors that we were instructed to stand by. There were many other just as nervous looking kids standing with me as well. Soon the instructors came and checked us all in and lead us to the Stadium Hall where we were to wait until we were taken to the Coliseum for the rodeo.

At Stadium Hall they briefed us on what we would be doing and the rules. Then they gave us shirts with Catch-A-Calf printed on the back and a number pinned to it as well. That would be our "ID". My number was 6.

As we jogged out into the rodeo arena my adrenaline was pumping and my stomach was in knots. I was scared as to how this was going to turn out. I was either make it awesome or embarrass myself in front of A LOT of people.

I heard 3, 2, 1! GO! I stood there for a second and then it registered "Oh hey run!" Since the cattle were really only 20 feet in front of me I jogged at them with the other kids. Soon I remembered a piece of advice. "Don't run with the crowd. Go for the one separated."

That's when I saw him standing by himself. I started running at him. At the same time the group of kids that were running at the cluster of calves started herding them towards the calf I was going for. It was the perfect set up. He started to run at me. When I met up with him I opened my arms and I grabbed ahold of him. I wasn't letting go. I was drug for a bit and the I was able to regroup and get on my knees so that I could get him on his back, so I would have complete control.

In the background I faintly heard the crowd going crazy and the announcer saying "You go sweetheart! Number 6! EVERYONE. LOOK AT NUMBER SIX!"

I got him down and started searching for my halter. I couldn't find the head part of it but I found the lead rope. I followed the lead rope and found that it was underneath my body. I pulled it out from under me and started stretching it out. So it could go on his head. After a few minutes of loosening the rope, I got it on and got the calf up. I drug him across the line and immediately a sense of relief came over my body.  After exiting the arena, we received a letter of congratulations and an invitation to come back up in May to pick up our steer.

May seemed like forever away. It finally came and my family was headed back up to Denver to pick up my calf that Krebb’s Angus donated to us participants. After a breakfast and a meeting, we were finally able to load up our cattle.

My steer’s name is Crown, and he is the sweetest steer ever. He enjoys eating, running, and hiding behind me. I have taken him to a few shows, and even walked him in our town’s parade. I’m so excited to take him Denver and show him there!

*You fill out an application and send it in. There can be up to 80ish kids accepted. If you are accepted (most everyone is) you travel to Denver during the National Western Stock Show, you are part of the rodeo and they let calves out into the arena. You have a rope halter on you and you must catch and halter the calf and take it across the line. If you are successful then you will come back for a meal and meet your sponsor who will be donating a steer to you and whom you will be writing letters to every month. With this you also must keep records over how much it eats and how much you spend on it. The next January you get to go back to Denver and will show in the special Catch-A-Calf show, you also have an interview and will be judged on a record book as well as your correspondence with your sponsors. Form there judges will chose the Catch-A-Calf winners.

- Andrea Vandever-Moore

Kansas Rep

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