Rodeo Sailor


If it weren’t for rodeos, I probably would never have joined the Navy, and by default, almost certainly would never have started drawing Broadside. So everything I have, and everything I have done as a cartoonist is because of a horse.

Her name was Bobo. She wasn’t mine – she belonged to a real cowgirl named Abril. She lived on a ranch that had plenty of horses, so she let me ride Bobo whenever I wanted.

Jeff horse
Jeff and Bobo

There wasn’t much to do in my small home town in Kansas, so I rode a lot, and that inevitably led to me and my friends being drawn toward the lure of the rodeo.

Bobo was a natural for the arena, and at first I worked on cutting and roping. But that wasn’t enough. I needed more adrenaline and before long I found myself signing up for bull riding. I will never forget the feeling of straddling an angry ton of brahma bull that is about to get poked with an electric prod.

Euphoria? No.
Excitement? Not exactly.
Mortal and debilitating fear? Absolutely.

You are supposed to stay on a bull for eight seconds. I would have lasted about two, but my hand got stuck in the rope and I was dragged all around the arena, somehow staying off the ground as the mighty beast kicked and jumped. When the rodeo clown finally freed me, I became the only rider in that round to actually ride a bull for the required time.

But the experience was enough for me. My arm, although not broken, had been torn up by the experience, as was my confidence. So I quit rodeo and joined the Navy.

So really, everything I experienced in life can be attributed to where it all started – riding Abril’s Bobo.

That’s Spanish for April’s Fool.


Here is a wider shot of me and Bobo.

Jeff camel500
Bahrain 1982


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