Many of the great storylines in rodeo are about the overall toughness of the cowboys and cowgirls that are part of the sport.
They know how to work hard, and they realize that hard work is what it takes to be successful. They have the mindset it takes to block out the pain in order to take care of business, whether it’s caring for livestock or riding a wild, bucking beast.
Chaney Latham is a cowgirl who comes from a ranch-raised family. Both her parents were raised on ranches, Lori in South Dakota and Craig in Wyoming. They moved to Texas County, Okla., in 1980s to attend Oklahoma Panhandle State University, and they’ve remained in Goodwell, Okla., since. That’s where Chaney and her younger sister, Sadie, have been raised.
It’s also where they continue the legacy of being cowgirls. One aspect of that job, especially for the Lathams, is rodeo. Craig Latham was a nine-time saddle bronc riding qualifier to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. Now he’s the rodeo coach at his alma mater. One of his prized student-athletes is Chaney.
A few weeks ago during the Panhandle State rodeo, the final event of the Central Plains Region season, Chaney was competing in team roping with her boyfriend, Tyrel Larsen. As she roped, her right thumb became entangled in the lasso; she was yanked off her horse and drug across the arena.
This was a freak deal, but it sometimes happens in the roping world. Oftentimes the digit is severed, and there are plenty of great team ropers who have learned to compete at a high level with either a portion of the thumb or without it altogether.
Fortunately for Chaney Latham, the thumb remained attached in the horrifying incident, but it was broken to the point that surgery was required. Asked if she’ll compete in team roping, Chaney just shrugs and says her mom is strongly suggesting she not. I’m eager to hear the final take, but I’d lean toward Lori’s suggestion. I’m a dad; I’m supposed to think that way.
Besides, I type for a living. I’d like to keep my digits attached if at all possible.