Way Back When... Feb 2016
The 1996 Texas Championships kicked off on February 29 in San Antonio, Texas. The team of Kent Youngblood and Don Kimble proved to be a formidable combination in the #11 division. Their four head average time of 30.34 seconds earned them the championship, $8,784 and trophy saddles.
“Don and I had roped together several times before. Don actually made the NFR years before that and roped a lot with Kent Winterton, so just about every time I roped with him I was confused with his rodeo partner,” laughed Youngblood.
“Back then instead of Flex Earnings, USTRC awarded National Finals Shoot-Out positions to Oklahoma City. I think that I had 13 Shoot-Outs that year. By far the most I had won in a single year,” remembered Youngblood
Although the win was exciting for Youngblood, there was something even more interesting than the first place victory that took place. And I remind you that this took place 20 years ago.
“My wife now, Tammy, actually placed 5th in the same roping with Jeff Medlin. At that time I only knew her from the amateur rodeos around, at which I roped calves mainly. What is funny is that I actually bought the picture, which included all the ropers that had won a prize. So when we got together I told her that I had a picture of us at a roping, showing her that exact picture where I won first and she won fifth,” explained Youngblood.
Don Kimble was the other half of this victory and had some interesting things to say as well.
“Kent and I had known each other since college, we had bull dogged and roped calves together. Kent called me asking if I wanted to rope at the Texas Championship earlier in the week. I told him that I did and we made the 16 hour drive to San Antonio. It ended up being a great weekend. I won over $7,800 and two saddles. I still have both of those saddles. One is on display and the other one I use every day out here on the ranch,” said Kimble
Don and I visited awhile and the more he talked the more I came to appreciate and respect the man he is. If there was ever a list of true cowboys, Mr. Kimble would be first on that list. He gave me this quote that a friend of his said to him not to long ago.
“The amount of adversity a man has in his life, adds to the character of the man. And as much adversity as you have had in your life Don, you are one heck of a character,” repeated Kimble.
“I have been roping for 53 years of my life and been a rancher my whole life. I have had a couple of horses fall with me, I’ve been ran over by a bull, broke my back in two places, broke my neck, broke my leg, and have a bad rotator cuff right now. As soon as I get it fixed up, I will be back at it again,” admitted the spry 65 year old Kimble.
Jumping ahead we arrive at the Twisselman’s, 2006 Great American Cowboy Classic on February 9th-12th in City of Industry, California.
Winning the #8 division with a time of 34.97 on four head was Heidi Payne and Byron Gibbs. The duo took home $3,350 and beautiful trophy buckles.
“It was pretty cold that day, but I loved that roping, it was always my favorite. I always did well at that roping. That day I won and a fast time check and won the average,” stated Payne
“The score was always short, but the cattle were usually pretty fresh and would move. At the time I never had any trouble with it though, because the big sorrel horse I rode could flat out fly,” said Payne
Heidi married Guy Payne in 2009 and moved from California to New Mexico. “I am a retired 5th grade school teacher, but I am pretty sure I worked less before I retired,” joked Payne
“Guy has a son and daughter. His little girl rodeos some and has gone to a hunter jumper class. His son is big into sports, playing golf and basketball right now,” said Payne
Payne’s partner, Byron Gibbs, also had fond memories of the City of Industry event, which included his success in the arena and finding a long lost friend.
“This was always a good roping. Good cattle, great facility, and just a great overall production. It was about 300 miles from the house, but it really paid off to go. I won 4 checks that day in the #8. It was by far the most I had ever won in one day,” remembered Gibbs
“I went to the roping to actually rope with Heidi in the #8. When I got there though, I started looking for a partner in the #9. At the time there would be a list of everyone that was looking for a partner. As I went through that list I came across the name King Davis. I knew a King Davis from when I was in the Secret Service 26 years prior to that day, but at that time neither of us roped. I knew that there could only be one King Davis in this world and about that time he came around the corner. We both just froze with our jaws dropped,” stated Gibbs
What is so interesting to me about that whole story is that neither Secret Service member had roped at all before. The path they each chose later in life lead them to the arena and eventually reunited them again. To this day they still keep in contact with one another.
The sport of team roping has a way of bringing people together. Whether it is newly formed partnerships or rekindled friendships, it’s truly one of the unique things about the sport. I enjoyed my conversations with all the ropers interviewed for this article. It was fun to hear the excitement in their voice as they relived their victories and interesting to learn more about them as a person. I hope that someday soon our paths will cross so I can put a face with their name and story. Until then, I wish to thank them all for their time and for sharing their memories.