"Don't let 'em pick guitars and drive them old trucks, let 'em be doctors and lawyers and such." Waylon and Willie can certainly croon that tune and Larry Mayhan--several-time winner of the North American "All Around Cowboy" competition--sang it last season with his touring rodeo cowboy band. Last June in Casper, Wyoming, Mayhan came riding out into the rodeo arena on the back of a bucking bronc, dismounted, jumped up onto a stage full of guitar-picking cowboys and broke into song: "Cowboys arn't easy to love and they're harder to hold. He'd rather give you a song than diamonds or gold. Lone Star belt buckles and old faded Levis and each night begins a new day. If you don't understand him and he don't die young, he'll probably just ride away. Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys..." The occasion for the rendition, tongue in cheek, no doubt, was the "Little Britches Rodeo," and some of the competitors in fact were not much more than babies, starting out at six years old riding saddle broncs.
Doug, the guitar-picker in the photograph below, got a late start compared to the precocious babes. After attending high school in Cambridge, he landed a job on a cattle ranch outside of Casper. Throwing a lasso came easily to him; Doug also tried his hand at riding some of the ranch's unbroken horses. Now enrolled in the pre-veterinarian program at the University of Wyoming, Doug rides the college rodeo circuit.
Bull riding (an intercollegiate sport rarely found in the East) is his special event. Possibly America's craziest--if not most dangerous--sport, bull riding tests the gut-level courage of the contestants as they climb onto the back of three-quarters of a ton of enraged beefsteak and try to hang on for an eight second count. Doug has managed a couple of times to go the full count, and that's no small accomplishment.