“Howdy partner,” is something I didn’t hear once while walking around taking photos at the Cowboy Church Arena located at 23850 Kerr Mansion Rd. in Poteau, Oklahoma. As I walked around, I noticed that the people seemed “stand-off-ish” at first, but then, before long, they were as friendly as family. Me, recently returning from citified Southern California, I noticed the horses immediately.
Most of them were a beautiful brown and a saddle that either complimented or contrasted their coats almost like a Beauty Pageant, but rugged and ready to rumble. Their owners seemed more like moms and dads with their horse children who followed along peacefully, but every now-and-then asserting their will but never winning and somehow realizing that their “mom” or “dad” had their best interest in mind.
The arena was typical of most small-town rodeo arenas. It was enclosed by a white metal tubing fence in a small football-filed sort of layout and ready to receive anyone if a wild horse went a little too wild. As we pulled up in our car, a tractor was turning the dirt and making it soft and ready for the horse and calves to run on without getting hurt.
Once the tractor was done, the calves were allowed on the field for a while as sort of a practice (to someone who has really never been to one of these before.) To my surprise I learned that each cowboy had to have their own horse, but the calves were “rented.” As they ran across the field of dirt, they were rounded up into a holding area on the other side of the arena which was, to my eye, about 50 yards away from the chute where I was standing. Then, they were moved by a few cowboys and a “cowgirl” to the queue to await the main event—the Calf Roping.
After taking a few captures, I thought it might be a good idea for me to get into the “booth” raised above the ground about 4-5ft. to get a nice view of the action. Two thing made this a bad idea. One, the window was scratched and dirty, which would have made the image that way, and the action would have been in front of me, headed away, which would have allowed for a lot of “but” pictures, but not too many action shots.
I moved to the “stands” on the west side of the arena and sat in the highest level, which was about 6ft off the ground (eye level was about 9ft.). A momma and two little children, a girl, 5, and a boy, 3 (in July) came up to the stands, but about 12ft to my right. The little girl kept yelling at the top of her lungs—
“Papa! Papa! That’s my papa!”
Ever being the one who does not pass up on a little fun, I began yelling in unison, “Papa! Papa! Papa!…”
She had a big smile on her face and looked at my camera and said, “Did you take any pictures of my papa? He is the one with the green shirt.”
I told her I would take some. She came extremely close to me, within an inch, wanting to look at the photos I just took. In these days of social distancing, not to mention my immune-compromised situation, I asked her mother, very politely with compassion, if Avery, was sick, to which she replied that she was not.
I showed her the pics and she exclaimed, “Papa! That’s my papa!” She was so excited, but then she went back over to her mother who was talking with Avery’s papa.
I quickly realized that the stands were not a good place to take photos of the action. Although it was high off the ground, it still did not allow me to take photos without getting the top of the fence in the shot, which really annoyed me. So I decided to go back down (with help from Randy, who, along with Barbara were there as spectators and getting some much needed fellowship.)
I walked close to the fence and once again thinking I was going to get the top of the fence in the captures I found that I could place my camera lens on the top bar of the fence and use it almost as a tripod and get some cool motion blur shots—not as good as I could with a tripod, but good enough for me.
Overall, I loved being there! The people were friendly and loving. I learned that this was part of an awesome church called Green Country Cowboy Church in Wister, Oklahoma and a recovery Ranch, where some of the participants either lived or were past residents, fighting their demons through the power of the Holy Spirit working through the word of God, and using the people of God.
We pray that every one of these have victory in the name of Jesus. One of the older cowboys prayed, another, who appeared to be one of the leaders, (please someone correct me if you are reading) asked one of the residents of the ranch, on one of the horses on the other side of the fence talking to us in the stands to give his testimony, which was an amazing story of what God can do if we let him, and it was evident that this man did.
This was a blessed day and early evening. If you want to have a lot of fun watching cowboys rope calves, then I would encourage you to visit the church’s web site at http://www.greencountrycowboychurch.net/ and follow the Recovery Ranch Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/GC3RR/ . Find out about new events at the arena on their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/GC3Arena/ .
Check out the Portfolio entitled: “Cowboy Church Calf Roping” at the following link for many more photos: http://www.stmarq.com/project/cowboy-church-calf-roping/
FOR PRINTS or FULL SIZE DIGITAL FILES, Please visit the link below for instructions. http://www.stmarq.com/prints/