Coffee With Cowboys Interview
Welcome to Coffee with Cowboys with me, Lacie Jae.
Greetings everyone! Lacie Jae with Coffee With Cowboys here. I’m a relocated city girl who will be adventuring into the ranching and rodeo world…the cowboy way of life.
It’s going to be a little different today. When I started the podcast, I was determined to just stick with observations. A documentary style of the podcast about my discoveries with rodeo and ranching, but, I’m going to change that just for today.
I have, of course, spent time with Logan and Delaney Rawlins, and while I was exploring Denver’s Stock Show, I spent time with the two dads, Evan and Martin. However, I haven’t spent much time with Brodie or Craig, so today they are here in the trailer with me, just us three, and I’m going to interview them.
I cheated a bit and gave them a look at some of the questions I was going to ask but the last ones they haven’t seen. Because I haven’t, ever, interviewed anyone, I have all my questions written down so I don’t sound foolish…or as inexperienced at this as I am. So here it goes.
Lacie Jae: Say hello Brodie Rawlins and Craig Houston.
Craig: Good morning!
Lacie Jae: So my first question is for Brodie. How old were you when you started riding rough stock?
Brodie: Five, both my granddad and dad were steer wrestlers and sometimes they team roped together in the rodeo, too. Logan and I started going with them when I was five and he was nine.
Lacie Jae: Just the four of you?
Brodie: Oh, yeah. Those memories of traveling as the ‘four men’ of the family, those are special. Not everyone has a three-generation story like that. We have a lot of photos on the walls at home that are of the four of us traveling together. Granddad always insisted we take pictures in front of the rodeo arena signs so we could see where we had been. We traveled until Granddad passed away.
Lacie Jae: Did you completely stop traveling?
Brodie: We didn’t travel as far or over as many weekends. Dad cut back and let Logan and I take over with clubs and high school rodeo, with Craig, too.
Lacie Jae: How did you meet Craig?
Both men laugh.
Brodie: The very first, close to home, rodeo I went to. They had mutton busting, which is riding sheep. Granddad asked me if I wanted to do it and I said yes. Anything he asked me, I would do.
Lacie Jae: Did Logan ride sheep?
Brodie: No, he was too big. He rode a steer that day.
Lacie Jae: So, how did Craig come into the story?
Brodie: In our hall at home, is a picture on the wall of me in the chute for the very first time. I was pretty nervous sitting there on the sheep. It stunk a bit and I was gripping the wool so tight my knuckles were white. I was scared but sure as heck wasn’t going to tell Granddad. Anyway, in the picture behind the chute helping me balance on the sheep was Dad, right next to him was Logan grinning like the Cheshire cat because he knew I was scared.
Lacie Jae: Big brother… (giggles)
Brodie: Oh, yeah. Granddad was taking the pictures because he wanted to be able to show Mom that it was safe and I had fun; his justifying not telling her beforehand. Off to the left of the picture, you see a man’s legs. Those are Martin’s legs, Craig’s dad. But kneeling at the chute, right at the sheep’s head, was Craig. He had just ridden and did real well and was talking to me…encouraging me.
Craig: It was my third time riding, so I’m more experienced then him. I was sharing my five-year-old wisdom.
Both men laugh.
Lacie Jae: What did he say?
Brodie: He told me that all I had to do was squeeze hard with my legs and balance like I was riding on a bike and, of course, hold on to the wool and don’t let go. And he told me the one thing we have used as our motto, mantra, and guiding light. He said, “My Pops says you have to believe…you just got to believe you can do it before you can do it.’
Lacie Jae: That is awesome. So did you ride it?
Brodie: Oh, yeah. All the way down the arena and halfway back. They had to run to catch me and pull me off the sheep.
Craig: He had this big grin on his face and marched over to me and we high-fived and yelled, ‘you just gotta believe’.
Lacie Jae: You still say that all the time.
Both Men: We believe!
Craig: We both have it written down on cards, and it’s in our pocket when we ride. It’s also stitched onto our travel bags and the cuff of our competition shirts. We focus on believing. You have to believe you’re the best and can ride anything to be successful.
Lacie Jae: So, you two have a picture of the moment you met?
Both men: Yeah.
Craig: The Rawlins and Houston’s traveling and rodeo circus; just us men until Granddad passed away and then Delaney was allowed to travel with us.
Lacie Jae: She couldn’t rodeo with you?
Brodie: No, Mom wanted us men to have those memories and Delaney was more than happy at home taking care of the ranch with Mom. She started competing when she was eleven or twelve and never looked back. But, even today, I would say Delaney is more of a rancher than a rodeo competitor.
Lacie Jae: So, back to you, Craig. How did you start riding rough stock, starting with the sheep?
Craig: Dad and I were in the car one day and saw a bunch of people and horses at the fairgrounds. I asked him if we could go see what was going on and so he stopped. I got on that day for the first time and was hooked.
Lacie Jae: Neither one of your mothers knew you were getting on a sheep before you did it?
Brodie: No, not until we got home and they showed her the pictures. She took one look at how excited all four of us were and she was fine with it.
Craig: I rode in four kid’s rodeos before we told my mother. Since I was an only child, she was a bit overprotective of me and barely let me out of the house.
Lacie Jae: What made you finally tell her?
Craig: I didn’t ever want to stop. I wanted to move onto the steers, but Dad put it on the condition I talked to Mom. He said if I wanted it that bad, then I had to face her. I did, she hated it, they fought, but I continued. When I was eleven and still riding steers and mini-horses and ready to go to mini-bulls, they had a huge fight and got a divorce. The judge asked me what I wanted and I told him that I loved my mother, hated TV and being inside a house, loved my father and wanted to continue to ride rough stock until I was a hundred. So, he gave them split custody but residential custody to my dad so I could continue.
Lacie Jae: Wow, I have to ask since I feel it wouldn’t be complete for everyone without knowing the answer. Where is your mother now? Do you see her?
Craig: I talk on the phone with her a couple of times a week. Always have. Weekends I didn’t rodeo, go to a clinic, or practice were spent with her until she remarried when I was seventeen. Now we just see each other once or twice a month and talk on the phone but NEVER discuss my riding.
Lacie Jae: Well, that’s a heck of a history and so different between the two families.
Craig: Lilly, the Rawlins mom, was from rodeo family and she was married to a steer wrestler so she knew all the positive and negatives that came with rodeo life. My mom is a city-girl and had never been around rodeo and was just too scared to accept it.
Brodie: Nature or nurture…doesn’t matter when it comes to rodeo. Whether you were born to it or it didn’t come along until you were a teenager, it still gets in your blood. Johnny Espeland is a bronc riding friend of ours. He didn’t start riding until he saw a flyer for a Rodeo Bible camp when he was a teenager. He thought it looked fun and went to it and has been hooked since.
Craig: One of the best riders in our Circuit.
Lacie Jae: You have a lot of friends in rodeo. What is your best story from on the road with them?
Both men laugh
Craig: Something to do with rodeo, drinking too much, being locked out of a hotel…completely naked.
All three laughed
Brodie: My best memories are traveling with my brother, Granddad, and Dad. Nothing can beat those memories.
Craig: There was the time in Winnemucca that Brodie and I decided to turn-in early and get some rest before Saturday’s performance.
Brodie: I’d like to say we did that often in our early days…but honestly…I can’t.
All three laugh.
Lacie Jae: How did going to bed early have a good memory of that night in Winnemucca?
Craig: The rodeo had a competitor’s tent and served free breakfast and since we were younger, we all tried to make sure to get the free stuff so we could save our money for more important things.
Brodie: Entry Fees and fuel
Craig: Exactly. So we walk into the tent and all our buddies that had gone out partying were there; with black eyes, split lips…
Brodie: Bruises, scratches, sore necks…
Lacie Jae: What happened?
Craig: They got in a massive fight at the bar.
Lacie Jae: With who?
Craig: With each other!
All three laugh.
Brodie: And the best part is none of them knew why they were fighting or how it even started.
Craig: And the worst part is we didn’t get to join the fun. We were sleeping!
All three laugh.
Lacie Jae: You have a lot of friends that are competitors. I also know that you two get along really well. Do you see each other as competitors?
Both men: Oh, yeah
Brodie: Absolutely. The first long trip I went to was in Sheridan. Granddad and Dad were steer wrestling. Dad clocks a damn respectable time and takes the lead but within a couple of minutes, Granddad beats him out and wins the rodeo. Talk about being happy and disappointed at the same time. (laughs). Granddad got it that year and Dad had to wait for his until he got back into rodeo after Mom passed away. Other than the NFR, Sheridan, Cheyenne, and Pendleton are my big goals. Those three are historic and both my dad and granddad won them.
Lacie Jae: Are you two the same way when one beats the other?
Craig: In our last year of high school rodeo, we decided we both wanted to win and we couldn’t do it by both riding in the same event. So, we flipped a coin to see who rode bareback and who rode saddle bronc. That way we could both win.
Brodie: We both won a couple of rodeos at the same time but the best was last year when we both won the Sisters Rodeo. It was one of those weekends you have fire in your gut and not only believing but knowing you’re going to ride anything they put in front of you.
Craig: We still compete in both events at some of the rodeos. I like both and didn’t want to totally give up saddle bronc.
Brodie: Yep, and as to your question on if we’re competitors to each other, when we’re riding the same event, my drive to beat him fires up the ride; I’ll do anything to beat him.
Craig: (laughs) Same here, trying to out-ride each other makes us more focused and better riders overall.
Lacie Jae: Brodie, you mentioned your Dad getting back into it after your mother passed away. He had backed off after your grandfather passed away. Can you talk about him getting back into it?
Brodie: Yeah, I guess. We don’t really talk about the why, but time has passed enough; hopefully, Dad won’t be upset.
Lacie Jae: We don’t have to. I have other questions.
Brodie: No, it’s OK. My mother was sick for over a year. When she passed away, we had hundreds of thousands of dollars in bills to pay. We were on the brink of having to sell the whole ranch. Dad decided to rodeo again because that was what he was good at and could bring in the money we needed in a relatively short time. He called a couple of friends and talked to them.
Craig: No one in the industry knew this.
Brodie: Both his friends took him on the road with them for months without telling a soul that they were paying the way; gas, food, and entry fees. They did it so Dad could send any money he won home to pay the creditors. I was fourteen and traveled with the three and took care of their horses and cleaned stalls. Logan and Delaney took care of the ranch with Craig helping and Martin working the books and paying bills.
Craig: All three men were on the road for months, hitting every rodeo humanly possible.
Brodie: Dad wouldn’t let them just loan him the money; he had to earn it. After the season was done, and the bills paid off, Dad paid them back for all the entry fees, fuel and gas then found horses for each of them and trained ‘em then gifted them to both men as a thank you.
Craig: Both horses helped take the men back to the NFR for years after that.
Brodie: Mom and Dad were high school sweethearts and married right out of school. It was a tough time for all of us but for Dad…after going through Mom’s initial diagnosis…(long pause) and the year of her illness knowing there was nothing he could do …she was the love of his life. Well, then he had to deal with her death, and having to go on the road leaving Delaney and Logan at 16 and 18 in charge of the ranch and trying to raise three teenagers while trying to save their home...well… he… Dad is the toughest person I know. (long pause) Lacie Jae, you can’t be crying in an interview and mess up my train of thought and get me crying.
Lacie Jae: (whispered) I’m sorry, we can cut this out.
Brodie: No, that’s alright. If a man doesn’t tear up when talking about his mom’s passing, then he isn’t much of a man.
Craig: After everything Evan went through, then having the accident last spring that landed him in the wheelchair, well, he is the type of man that everyone should aspire to be.
Brodie: Dad AND the two men that helped him out that summer. As far as we know, they have never said anything to anyone about Dad’s desperation to save the ranch.
Lacie Jae: I’m not going to ask who they were, that’s up to those three men to say. But let’s move on to another topic.
Both Men: OK
Lacie Jae: So, these are the questions you didn’t know I was going to ask. Which of you is older?
Craig: Me, by two months, but we didn’t get our permits until after October 1st, so we had a full year on the first year on permits. Then this is our first year on cards.
Brodie: This is our rookie year.
Lacie Jae: Who is the better saddle bronc rider?
Both Men: Me
Lacie Jae: Who is the better bareback rider?
Both Men: Me
Lacie Jae: (Giggles) Who is better looking?
Both Men: Me
Craig: I have been called more exotic because of my Indian heritage.
Brodie: You were 19, and she had to be at least 40 and was trying to get you to bed.
All three laugh
Lacie Jae: (Giggles) Well, I’m not going to ask if she did.
Lacie Jae: OH! That innocent question took a wrong turn! (giggles) On to another subject! Brodie, you said Pendleton, Sheridan, and Cheyenne were your favorite rodeos because of the history. Craig, what is yours?
Craig: I like Sisters because it’s like a hometown rodeo for me. Then I’d say San Antonio because I like the city itself and the rodeo is pretty cool and Pendleton.
Lacie Jae: Brodie’s biggest goal was those three rodeos. Craig, other than the NFR, what is your biggest goal?
Brodie: Women younger than 40.
All three laugh
Craig: Dad having to add another room to the house because I won too many saddles.
Brodie: He loves saddles more than buckles.
Craig: I’d like the Big 4 saddle for winning the most points in Pendleton, Kennewick, Lewiston, and Walla Walla. Because we grew up in the Pacific Northwest, I feel that it would be like winning a hometown award. It would be a unique saddle to have.
Lacie Jae: I know Logan wears his first NFR go-round buckle as his main everyday buckle, and Delaney wears her Nampa Snake River Stampede buckle, Craig, which do you wear?
Craig: Sisters…it was a huge night.
Lacie Jae: Brodie?
Brodie: I don’t have a set one, just kind of changes with my mood, but when I ride, I use my grandad’s spurs.
Lacie Jae: Very special. Who has had more injuries?
Craig: Ankle, knee, rib, and fingers
Brodie: Concussion, leg stress fracture that made me sit-out half of my sixteenth year, ankle, and rib.
Craig: He dislocated his shoulder, too.
Brodie: Oh, yeah, then there was your groin pull.
Lacie Jae: So about the same, you’re both just broken
Both Men: Life of a roughie
Lacie Jae: Dream bucking horse to ride?
Craig: Craig at Midnight, of course, and probably Killer Bee…
Brodie: Virgil is an ultimate.
Craig: Medicine Woman, Womanizer
Brodie: Khadafy, 303 Spring Fling, and Grated Coconut, if I could go back in time.
Craig: Lunatic from Hell
Lacie Jae: Well, that one just sounds scary.
Brodie: He can be. There are so many good ones out there now you can make a 90 point ride.
Craig: The stock contractors have been doing a phenomenal job in their breeding programs. Dozens of new horses come out every year that help get you a check.
Lacie Jae: Who would Delaney say she would rather team rope with?
Craig: Oh, damn…that’s a good question.
Brodie: Probably me just because we’ve done it more.
Craig: Yeah, I agree.
Lacie Jae: Who would Logan rather travel to rodeos with?
Both men laugh
Brodie: I’d say Craig because Logan likes to sing when he’s tired and Craig harmonizes better than me
Craig: Brodie has a terrible singing voice
All three chuckle
Lacie Jae: Favorite western to watch when killing time
Both Men: Lonesome Dove
Lacie Jae: Logan and Delaney both said to ask you what your personal theme songs are.
Brodie: It ain’t my fault
Lacie Jae: What isn’t your fault?
Craig: It was too.
Lacie Jae: What?
Brodie: The song by Brothers Osborn, ‘It Ain’t My Fault’
Craig: It was your fault
Lacie Jae: (Giggling) Explain, who did what to who?
Brodie: The two of us and Logan were traveling together last year and we stop at some truck stop in Oklahoma. One of those places with a laundry mat. Logan goes in and gets food while we get our laundry started, then we go in and get food while he starts his. I get back first and Logan is digging in Craig’s bag.
Craig: This is where it is his fault.
Brodie: It wasn’t my fault (chuckling). Logan pulls out Craig’s riding pants and…
Lacie Jae: What? What are those?
Craig: I have a football girdle that is skin tight and holds my…well; it holds everything tight to the body when I ride. They’re under the jeans, so no one knows they are there.
Brodie: (chuckling) except us and Logan pulls them out and throws them in a washing machine before Craig gets back from the store. I had no idea what he was doing until he put something in with them.
Craig: Again, your fault
All three chuckle
Brodie: Logan even manages to get them dried without Craig knowing. He puts them in his own bag until Craig isn’t looking then stuffs them back in Craig’s under his clothes.
Craig: I get to the rodeo that night and we’re behind the chutes where no one can see us, so I was changing clothes. I wear tight bike shorts so I’m not completely naked, but I go to put on my riding pants and they are fucking bright yellow!
Lacie Jae: (Laughing) Yellow and not pink?
Craig: Yellow, fucking yellow.
Brodie: (Laughing) Logan found food coloring in the grocery store and also dumped a huge bag of lemon heads in the machine. They were so bright and Craig was so pissed as the cowboys around us were just…speechless.
Craig: Speechless because they were laughing so fucking hard, especially when Logan peeked his head around the corner and started laughing.
Brodie: He was so pissed he rode like a maniac and won the damn rodeo.
Craig: The worst part is I started sweating, and the food coloring soaked into my skin. I was told I looked jaundice down there.
Lacie Jae: Who would know that?
Lacie Jae: Oh! You two! Making my innocent questions go bad.
Lacie Jae: Brodie, what is your theme song?
Both Men: The Gambler
Lacie Jae: Why?
Brodie: I’m playing poker with a bunch of people, including Delaney. We get to a hand between her and I and Brody…Cress, suggests making a bet that doesn’t include money.
Craig: It ends up with Delaney having to clean his bronc saddle or Brodie riding Gaston around the barrels at competition speed.
Lacie Jae: I’d never do that! Those turns look scary fast.
Both men laugh
Brodie: Oh, they are…I know, because I lost.
Brodie: I made it around the first barrel OK, then decided to take the second one wider but Gaston knows what he’s doing and didn’t go as wide as I wanted and I nearly toppled out of the saddle.
Craig: We have video of the third barrel.
Brodie: That horse turned so damn fast both my feet came out of the stirrups and no matter how tight I held that damn saddle horn, the g-forces had me flying.
Craig laughing: In grand style.
Lacie Jae: Did you get hurt?
Brodie: No, but I did walk away with more respect for Delaney’s riding ability…which I already had respect for.
Craig: And he doesn’t let anyone talk him into gambling for anything but money anymore.
Lacie Jae: Last question and I want both of you to answer. If you were sitting in front of a dozen teenage cowboys that were headed on the road, what is the best advice you could give them?
Both Men: Believe
Craig: Believe in yourself, never stop learning or trying. Get to the point that your believing in yourself is just a way of life, not a goal to reach.
Brodie: That and don’t give up. Life is not always on top. It is a freaking roller coaster. You can have the best ride of your life in the afternoon, then that night get bucked off a 70 point horse.
Lacie Jae: We couldn’t end this interview on a better note than that. Thank you both for taking the time out of the day for this interview. I’ll talk to Evan on whether he wants me to edit out the part about why he got back into rodeo.
Craig: Thanks, Lacie Jae, you did an excellent job for your first interview.
Brodie: Thanks for talking with Dad about that, and I agree, you did a great job…but you’re still going to make us coffee, right?
Thank you, everyone for listening. I hope you enjoyed learning about these two best friends as much as I did. I am so incredibly lucky to have the Rawlins and Houston’s in my life and you can now understand why. I’m going to sign off now and have Coffee with these two Cowboys. Have a good day and a great cup of coffee.