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61 Kindergarten kids prepare for their rodeo.

For 34 years Quail Dobbs, who lives in Coahoma, Texas, population just shy of 1,000 people, has been putting on a Kindergarten Rodeo at the Elementary School.  This year I attended.  I had seen Stick Horse Rodeos before but I wasn’t prepared for what I witnessed.


The gymnasium of the school was completely full of parents, grandparents, relatives and neighbors, plus children from other grades, to watch the 9 AM opening of the Stick Horse Rodeo featuring the children in kindergarten of this small west Texas town.  Not a soul was seen on the streets as we drove in to town and once we entered the gym I understood why.  They were all in the gym.


The Rodeo began with the announcer, Ben Clements, welcoming everyone, just like any American rodeo.  He then introduced the two students, riding stick horses, that ‘posted the colors’ – the American flag and the Texas flag.  Behind them six or eight other students entered, on stick horses, and went to their respective spots to be the pivots for the Grand Entry.  Sixty-one kindergarten students rode their wooden steeds in to the ‘arena’ and rode around the pivots.  Once they finished they returned to their stations where a prayer was given, then everyone said the  Pledge of Allegiance, the Star Spangle Banner was sung by Shayla Martin, and then the kindergarten students sang the Pledge of Allegiance Song, which was amazing.  Every student knew the song by heart.  God Bless America!


Coahoma Kindergarten Rodeo Clowns

///*/. The first event was the Bronc Riding.  The chute consisted of a gate that opened, allowing the rider to enter the arena.  The riders were diligent in riding the fierce broncs, keeping their free hand high in the air so as not to touch the bronc.  When their ride was over the pickup man, on his stick horse, carried the rider back to the fence, while the second pickup man, on his stick horse, took the bronc (stick horse) back to the pen.  All the details of a rodeo were covered.


Other events following were barrel racing, pole bending, the flag race, some roping and the wild cow milking.  Last but not least was the dangerous but exciting bull riding which featured Quail Dobbs and Jim Bob Feller, plus the Coahoma Kindergarten Rodeo Clowns to help the bull riders get away from the bulls (stick bulls) to safety.  It was evident the students had rehearsed their responsibilities as contestants and participants in the rodeo as they were ready on cue and there were no delays.  (I would like to say, many professional rodeos could learn a thing or two from these minature cowboys and cowgirls.  Their ‘perf’ ran so smoothly and everyone was ready and on time to do their required task or assignment!)


Meanwhile between events, the announcer called the names of winners of prizes from donors and sponsors, such as jeans, boots, $25 gift certificates, and much more. Brandy Clements provided the music and all the fanfare for the event, just as is done at major rodeos.


The music teacher also directed the Coahoma Kindergarten Choir in singing several songs about rodeo which were written especially for this event.  One piece was dedicated to Quail Dobbs, who stood facing the choir with pride.  Six students played various ‘make-believe’ instruments and accompanied the CK Choir.  Jody Nix, a prominent Texas western swing musician and singer performed for the audience.  He was a 1970 graduate of the Coahoma school, as was Wacey Cathey, a well-known PRCA bull rider, a 1971 CHS graduate.


Quail Dobbs and two kindergarten cowgirls

Others participating were Jim Bob Feller, a PRCA rodeo clown, from Granbury, TX; Miss Rodeo Texas, Lauren Graham of Maybank, TX; and Miss Rodeo Texas Princess, Sissy Winn, of Corpus Christi.


In an hour and a half sixty-one five year old eager young boys and girls enjoyed being rodeo cowboys, cowgirls, pickup men, rodeo clowns, bullfighters, barrelmen, singers and even some square dancers.  It was evident weeks of preparation went in to this annual event.  The kindergarten teachers of these youngsters had instructed them in making the stick horses, stick bulls, plus learning their other responsibilities.  The teachers, Mrs. Baccari, Mrs. Holt and Mrs. Twilligear should be commended.  Everyone in attendance had a grand time and many photographs were collected for memories in the future.  The hometown hero, Quail Dobbs, sat for photos with many of his young friends as the event closed.


If people in our country would spend 1/10th of the energy and effort put forth by Quail Dobbs and his crew of volunteers to give back to their communities, we would not have the violence and tragedies that are happening in our country today.


More About Quail Dobbs:

For 35 years he went down the rodeo road as a rodeo bullfighting clown and he has the scars to prove it.  But the accolades he has received far surpass the bumps and bruises he incurred.  He was ProRodeo Cowboys Association Clown of the Year in 1978 and 1988.  He was picked as Coors Man in the Can four different years and worked the National Finals Rodeo both as a bullfighter (1972) and as a barrelman (1978, 1985 and 1989).  He worked the Wrangler Bullfight Finals six times; Texas Circuit Finals twice; Canadian Finals in 1981; WPRA Finals twice, and NOTRA Finals twice.


Quail was born in 1941 and became a bareback rider and bull rider after attending Jack Buschbom’s Roughstock School.  At a Buffalo, Minnesota, rodeo in 1962, George Doak was clowning and needed a barrelman.  He said, “Heck, Quail, why don’t you be the barrelman since we don’t have one.”  Quail agreed to do it, since he said he’d been accused of being a clown all his life, and George put his make-up on.  He was a natural.  Although he went in to rodeo clowning in a big way he still continued to ride bareback horses and bulls for about a year.  Stock contractor and rodeo producer, Bob Barnes hired him the next year to work all his rodeos and from that beginning Quail has worked most of the big rodeos across the country including Cheyenne Frontier Days for 28 years and Houston for 24 years.


Rodeo clowns have to have acts, and Quail put several comedy acts together.  He  purchased a ‘clown car’ from Jerry Olson, another great rodeo clown.  The ‘clown car’ had a history of being put together to be used in rodeo acts back in the 1930s and early 1940s.  Quail was the car’s third owner.  The funny car became Quail’s signature act.  His other primary acts included the “dog named Phyllis” and the “chicken-chariot act”.  Quail’s laugh-getting never failed.


Quail is married to Judy and they have two children, Stephanie and Coley.  When he retired from his rodeo clown ‘gigs’ and went home to Coahoma he became a Justice of the Peace for Howard County.  As a J. P. he marries couples, serves as county coroner, processes traffic tickets, serves eviction notices, issues search warrants and so much more.  His main goal as a servant of the law is to keep children in school.  He not only counsels with them, but their parents and relatives, as well.   Many students and former students know how compassionate this consummate rodeo clown turned lawman is toward keeping youth headed in the right direction.


As you approach Coahoma, just east of Big Spring, Texas, on Interstate 20 you might slow down a bit.  You could end up facing the former funnyman and paying a hefty fine.  And that’s no laughing matter!

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