Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Famous bucking bull bested by ‘Let’er Buck’ author

Let’er Buck!

The famous slogan of the Pendleton Round-Up is also the name of a book authored by Charles Wellington Furlong, an explorer, writer, artist, photographer and lecturer who visited the Round-Up in its early years. A world traveler, Furlong turned his attention to the American West in 1913 in part to regain his health, which was suffering after many years living abroad in Africa and South America.

Furlong arrived in Pendleton for the Round-Up in 1913 and was convinced that, to really understand his subject, he needed to participate in Round-Up activities. He agreed, and was put upon Henry Vogt, a notorious bucking bull that was fast making a name for himself. Furlong lasted three and a half seconds before he hit the dirt.

The next year, in 1914, Furlong returned to the Round-Up as a representative of Harper’s Weekly and was accosted by the Round-Up directors as soon as he stepped off the train. “Say, Furlong! Going to ride Sharkey this year?” A prize of $100 had been offered to anyone who could stay on the bull for 10 seconds using any means necessary — pulling leather, using reins, anything. The record ride on Sharkey to that point was less than six seconds.

Sharkey was a black Belgrade Angus bull weighing 1,925 pounds. The Round-Up bought the bull from “Happy Jack” Hawn of Fresno, Calif., for $500 in 1913 after he made a name for himself at the Los Angeles Rodeo for two years, throwing all comers. Sharkey was not part of the regular bucking stock, but was quite a draw as special entertainment during each day of the Round-Up.

Furlong approached his ride on Sharkey, according to his 1921 book “Let’er Buck: A Story of the Passing of the Old West,”  as follows: “... I concluded that one reason a rider lets go his hold on the bulls was because the tremendous force made him think his joints were coming apart at each buck and his teeth shaking out in between, but that they really weren’t — he only felt that way. ... The philosophy then of bull riding is simply — hang on — convince yourself you’re not coming apart, you only feel that way — just hang on.”

Furlong ended up in the dirt with a broken wrist, but also won the world roughriding championship of the year (and the $100 prize) by hanging on to Sharkey for 12 1/2 seconds. His feat was never bested.

No comments:

Post a Comment