EDITOR’S NOTE: This story appears in the May edition of Women’s Pro Rodeo News, the official publication of the WPRA. It is reproduced with the consent of the WPRA.
The tiny berg of Texhoma rests directly on the Texas-Oklahoma state line in the northern most section of the Panhandle, less than two hours straight north of Amarillo.
Most of the 1,300 people live on the north side of the border in, oddly enough, Texas County, Okla. Just up the road 20 miles is Guymon, the largest city in the region and home of Pioneer Days Rodeo.
It always will be home for Shali Lord. On May 1-3, the Lamar, Colo., cowgirl returned to her ol’ stompin’ grounds to win her hometown rodeo for the second time in her career – she earned her first Pioneer Days Rodeo title a decade before in that magical season that produced her only qualification to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
Slider is an athletic bay that now lives just outside Lord’s back door in an eastern Colorado pasture. Now she leans on Freckles Ta Fame, a 6-year-old chestnut stallion owned by Joe and Carla Spitz of Lamar. Can Man is out of Frenchmans Freckles and Dash Ta Fame, holding a strong racing lineage on both sides of his pedigree.
He and Lord placed fourth in both rounds in Guymon and won the average title with a two-run cumulative time of 34.04 seconds, just three-hundredths of a second faster than runner-up Calyssa Thomas.
“I think the ground has been the best it’s been in years,” Lord said. “They had some moisture on it, and they try to keep it good and consistent. It was really good and really even throughout slack. My horse really liked it. It was hot on Sunday (the final day), but it was good underneath.”
That worked well for Lord, who earned $4,735 for the victory. It was especially nice considering the fact that the Pioneer Days Rodeo committee will be one of three inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame in August, joining committees in Sidney, Iowa, and Red Bluff, Calif.
“It’s very exciting,” she said. “That’s a great committee and a great community of rodeo athletes. It’s really a special recognition for that rodeo and the whole community. The whole county takes a lot of pride in that event.
“That committee has worked at it for years, and it’s one of the top rodeos in the country. They try hard, and it’s a well-deserved acknowledgement.”
Guymon also kick-started an idea of what Lord and the Spitzes can expect out of Can Man. With a couple of solid back-ups in place, Lord plans to spend the next couple of months making a run to see if she can return to the Wrangler NFR after a 10-year hiatus.
“Hopefully things will fall into place,” she said. “A lot of things can change in the summer, and there’s a lot of money to be won.”
She plans to let Can Man do a lot of the heavy-lifting. He proved himself quite worthy inside Henry C. Hitch Arena, the longtime home of the 83-year-old rodeo. His performance inside the large pen should provide valuable as the summer run of rodeos begins in just a few weeks.
“He loves his job, and he just keeps getting stronger and stronger,” Lord said. “He won a lot of money at the futurities. I’ve had him about a year. He won money at the first rodeo I took him to last summer.
“Nothing seems to bother him at the rodeo as far as music or banners or anything. He’s so much fun to ride and such a pleasure to be around.”
It helps that Can Man’s pedigree allows for a solid combination of being fast with a strong ability to turn well. It’s something everyone hopes is passed down to his descendants.
“He’s a little different than most studs, because he hauls well,” Lord said. “I do pay attention to what’s around him. I make sure I don’t put anything around him.
“He’s really laid back at home when I exercise him. The minute I go somewhere, you get to the rodeo or the jackpot and he knows where he is and what he’s there for. He gets hyped up and excited. He’s well aware of what his job is when we get somewhere.”
A personality like that should come in handy on the rodeo trail. She also would like to see how the beautiful red speedster likes the Thomas & Mack Center.
She knows the path to Las Vegas in December is long and winding, but Shali Lord is ready to find her way. She has just the right amount of horsepower to make it happen.