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Meet the Member Robert Blandford
story by Lindsay King
“Either you want to rodeo bad enough or you don’t,” Robert Blandford said. He’s the type of competitor who intimately knows every event because he’s done them all. He’s also the type of traveler who’s seen this country through a pickup windshield as well as from the air. Despite many years on the back of a bull and on the road, Robert is still one heck of a roper. “When I was in school at Tarleton State University I competed in every event.” Robert is the only one of his rodeo-bound family to make this claim to fame. He’s a full-blooded Texan, he’s never lived anywhere else and definitely never wanted to. “My father was the first in my family to rodeo. He roped, but also produced rodeos and supplied stock.” All of Robert’s siblings naturally fell into the sport right alongside each other.
Robert and his brother Russel keep themselves busy with their own stock contracting operation. “We have been in business for over 50 years. We don’t have a name for it; everybody just knows about us that really needs to.” The brothers mostly supply calves but also have steers on hand. As of recently, they can be found at Texas high school and junior rodeos as well as the ultimate calf ropings. They have brought cattle to a handful of professional rodeos, the NSPRA and Texas Senior Pro included in that list. “I figured if I was going to furnish the calves for the NSPRA finals, I wanted to be able to rope there. It has been a lot of fun.” Only a couple NSPRA rodeos are held in Texas each year, but that doesn’t keep Robert from qualifying for the finals. He isn’t much for travel anymore, but who could blame him when much of his life was spent on the rodeo road.
The two-time Bill Linderman award winner was the PRCA’s rookie of the year in 1973. He made the finals in calf roping in ’74 and in bull riding two years later. “In 1976 I was rodeoing by myself. I had an arm injury and couldn’t really compete well in the calf roping so I was just going by myself in the bull riding.” Robert found some unlikely traveling partners who owned a plane. “That made it easy, we flew everywhere we went. I just did that (rode bulls full time) for the one year.” Robert mostly rode bulls at the bigger rodeos, where the paycheck was worth the risk. “I didn’t like to ride bulls that much, but I was good enough at it that I could keep winning. I was lucky, I only got hurt a couple of times.”
In 1977 Robert was back on the road as both a calf roper and a bull rider. “I rodeoed pretty hard in ’77, but then I laid off for a couple of years before I came back in 1980.” Picking up right where he left off, Robert made the finals in calf roping that year. After zig zagging across the nation for several years, Robert grew fond of rodeos close to home in Fort Worth, San Antione and Houston. He won the all-around title in Houston and remembers it as one of his greatest accomplishments. He also wrote home about his time in Cheyenne and Pendleton.
Robert married Kay, a fellow high-intensity rodeo competitor, and they reside in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Kay is a horse trainer who mainly focuses on futurities and jackpots, with the occasional rodeo thrown in. As for Robert, he’s is the type of competitor who will always be able to pick up right where he left off when it comes to stepping on a horse and swinging an ageless loop.