Group shot

The Louisiana Living Legends School went through Dec. 27 through 29 at the Franklin Parish Activity Center.

At the annual event, cowboys age 14 - 35 received instructions on saddle bronc and bareback riding.

“It’s amazing how much it has grown,” Buckshot Sims, one of the organizers said. “We had cowboys as far away as Florida, Colorado and Indiana.”

Sixty-nine students, including from Louisiana, participated in the three-day event.  The school covered fundamentals, dummy work and getting on livestock. They were taught by National Finals Rodeo (NFR) qualifiers.

“The NFR is like the Super Bowl,” Sims said. “Out of the instructors, there were 72 qualifiers. I’ve never heard of that many in a school before.”

One of the instructors was Cody DeMoss, from Crowville. DeMoss has won upwards of $2 million in his career as a professional bronc rider. DeMoss launched the Louisiana Legends Legacy Program as a way to bring knowledge and experience of a Louisiana champion bareback and bronc rider to the next generation.

“The goal here was to give back to the sport,” DeMoss said. “This sport is a lifestyle that every kid dreams of doing: the rodeo cowboy.”

DeMoss also wanted to give back to his home community.

“Franklin Parish is where I and Heith (his brother) grew up,” DeMoss said. “Buckshot, Scott Fletcher, Mike Fletcher are basically like family. This (school) is about coming home and being able to make it happen.”

The rodeo cowboy lifestyle is not as popular in years past, but DeMoss hopes schools like this will bring it back.

“We need to do this school because it is dying off,” DeMoss said. “People have been on me to do this for quite some years.”

Local folks come through

DeMoss expressed appreciation for all the help from locals. Some locals were Rawhide, Howey and Butch Robinson, Frog Crain, Jeremy and Jerry Mercer, Tyler Wright, Issac Gandy, Tator Robinson, Todd Weed, Ricky DeMoss Griffin, Cannon Fletcher, Josh Wyatt, Trey Presley, Buckshot and Carmen Sims and Bryan Wilson.

“I appreciate the support from local friends,” DeMoss said. “Lot’s of folks worked their ass off all week.”

Thinking “outside the box”

DeMoss and Jarred LaVerne chose 39 bareback students and 34 saddle bronc students out of 160 applicant applicants with more than 250 students e-mailing DeMoss expressing interest. The school is free thanks to local and regional support.

“Winnsboro Tourism donated to us along with WSB and Franklin State Bank,” DeMoss said. “So thankful to have home people support.”

One perspective about Louisiana Legends that DeMoss brings up, is the school organizers “thinking outside the box.”

“First day, we had kids be the judges and also a real professional judge, Butch Kirby” DeMoss said. “Before they started, (Kirby) gave them a crash course on judging.”

Afterward, Kirby, who was also a 1979 world champion bull rider, gave his thoughts on the ride.

“(Judging) was harder than they thought,” DeMoss said. “No other school does that.”

He and other school organizers were “brutally honest” with participants. DeMoss said he “ran a couple boys off” the first day for not listening to his instructions.

“If I pissed you off then you don’t need to be here or riding anyway,” DeMoss said.

Actions taken during the school may save someone’s life down the road.

“This is a dangerous sport,” DeMoss said.

Seven different contractors from Florida to Texas provided more than 200 bucking horses for the cowboys. There were nearly 300 rides in a two-day period.

Along with saddle bronc and bareback riding, pickup school and a judging clinic were offered.

Bareback vs. saddle bronc

Bareback and saddle bronc styles are very different. In saddle bronc, the rider uses a specialized saddle with free swinging stirrups and no horn. The saddle bronc rider grips the simple rein braided from cotton or polyester attached to a leather halter worn by the horse.

The rider lifts on the rein and attempts to find a rhythm with the animal by spurring forwards and backwards with their feet in a sweeping motion from shoulder to flank.

The bareback rider does not use a saddle or rein, but uses a rigging that consists of a leather and rawhide composite piece often compared to a suitcase handle attached to a surcingle and placed just behind the horse’s withers.

The rider leans back and spurs with an up and down motion from the horse’s pint of shoulder toward the rigging handle, spurring at each jump in rhythm with the motion of the horse.

Good for the community

DeMoss complemented Franklin Parish Activity Center.

“The building is real nice,” DeMoss said. “It’s a perfect place. I would like it to be finished, but it’s worth it to have the school in Franklin Parish.”

Addition to the learning experience, Sims said the area received financial benefits from the cowboys.

“The restaurants and fast food places were full and so were the motels,” Sims said. “It was good financially for Franklin Parish.”

DeMoss was proud of the school he and other organizers put on.

“This is the best school of its kind in the United States,” DeMoss said. “I say that with confidence. I’ve been around and nobody does what we did here.”

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