Thumper, Cait and Switchblade's Retirement Paradise
Many of you had some pretty strong reactions to the post I wrote Monday about Aaron Tsinigine’s Smudge. Kellie Singleton, who helps Clay Tryan and Jade Corkill with their public relations, hosts her team’s retirees during the summer months while they’re off rodeoing, and she reflects on what having them there means to her.
I was reading your article this afternoon as I was driving home from work, and it made me think back to a year ago when Jade (Corkill) hinted around that he was getting ready to leave for the summer and wasn’t quite sure what he was going to do with all of his horses that he couldn’t take with him for the summer in Fallon (Nev.). I could never have imagined how attached I would get to one of the winningest heel horses to ever run down the arena, Switchblade, camping out in the pasture at my house.
Fast forward to this summer when Clay (Tryan), who doesn’t ever like to ask anyone for anything, is trying to figure out what he is going to do with all his horses that won’t fit in the rig this summer. Of course I take them in. All six, plus a roping steer with a broken leg. (laughing!) The two that joined Switchblade here at my house are arguably two of the greatest head horses to run down the arena as well, Thumper (Former PRCA/AQHA Horse of the Year) and Cait. So just as you and your young neighbor girls felt about Smudge and his greatness and the time he spent in your pasture is how I feel when I sit on my back porch and watch these three legends graze peacefully. They, like Smudge, are those once in a lifetime horses that make their owners great.
My husband makes fun of me on a daily basis that I spoil “those horses” too much or that I worry too much about “those horses”. To him, they were always just horses that ate our grass and something that I (his wife) would spend hours brushing and petting on a daily basis….until today, after reading your article on Tsinigine’s Smudge, for a man that knows next to nothing about team roping except that in our house we always cheer for Tryan & Corkill, finally realized how special “those horses” in our pasture really are and how much they have truly done for Clay and Jade’s careers. Where would they be in their careers if they hadn’t owned one or all of those horses?
I can’t imagine how hard it was for Clay or Jade to leave one of these greats out of the trailer for the first time just as Tsinigine had to do this past week. (Jade has a great story on how Switchblade was turned out loose around the barn the day before he left for the 2016 BFI and couldn’t be found when it was time to feed. They found him loaded up in the trailer. Ask Jade about it sometime, its a pretty cool story.) The things they have helped Clay and Jade accomplish from the beginning of their careers to the end is astonishing. From the dreams they helped to make into reality, to the homes they helped buy, even down to the kids’ school clothes they helped buy. They gave it their all day in and day out all because they loved their job. They are truly more than just “those horses”, they are family!
Now as Cait (20 years old), Switchblade (23 years old), and Thumper (25 years old) rarely get out of a walk (except Thumper, he runs to me when it’s feeding time), they have paid their dues and are enjoying their weekly baths, daily belly rubs, and an unknown amount of treats in the retirement life. There is no doubt in my mind that if Clay or Jade had the chance to load one of them up just one more time they would jump at the chance.
Here’s to being in the presence of greatness,