In early August, I asked one of our regular photographers, Jamie Arviso, if she’d shot anything cover-worthy lately. Looking for a cover image is a delicate task, balancing great photography with the needs of the moment, the associations and the personalities involved, and Jamie’s regular presence at ropings of all types and her creative eye make her a good place to start.
Jamie sent me back a group of shots from a July roping in Linden, Arizona, and the one you find on this cover caught my eye. I asked her who it was, and she told me it was the Grants, New Mexico father-daughter team of Chali and Darin Simpson.
Now they didn’t win the roping, and I don’t have any particular occasion to include them in any standard department of the magazine. But I like there to be a tie-in to something inside the magazine when I put a picture on the cover. So, I called the Simpsons up for a chat.
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Darin answered right away, after teaching fifth and sixth graders remotely all day. And what he had to say really struck a cord with me.
“My daughter just started back during the pandemic, when she had to move home from college,” Darin said. “I had kept her horse, hoping she’d want to rope again, and she did.”
Chali, for her part, was a bit sentimental about the sunny side of the pandemic’s effect on her life’s direction.
“Roping with my dad is really special,” Chali, a senior at New Mexico State studying range management and soil science, said. “Where we live, it’s a pretty rural, small town. There’s not a whole lot to do. My dad and grandpa were itching for me to get back into it. It’s just a great way to spend time with my family and take a break from online school all day. My grandpa turns out our steers every afternoon, so it’s such a special way to get him out of the house.”
I’m guessing the Simpsons aren’t the only ones who’ve found their way back to their roots—and team roping—through the chaos that’s taken the country by storm. And I can’t help but wish more folks had the opportunities that those of us who live the Western way of life have, because there’s just something unique, so fortunate, about being able to turn off the news, saddle your best horse and load the steers.
To me, that’s something pretty cover-worthy after all.