Coco van den Bergh saw her first pair of Wrangler jeans and a Western saddle when she came to the United States as a college […]
On The Trail with Doug Clark
Written by: Siri Stevens< Back to Articles
Doug Clark will receive the coveted Ben Johnson Award at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum’s annual Rodeo Historical Society’s Hall of Fame Gala on November 9. Doug was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma. “I grew up in a saddle shop – Veach Saddlery – which belonged to my grandfather, Charley Beals, and was started 100 years ago by his father in law, Monroe Veach.” He spent his summers and every day after school at the shop. “I helped make saddles and repair things. My dad tooled all the saddles for years there and it’s a family business so we did a little bit of everything.”
He started tie down roping when he was 10. At that same time, he started competing in the junior rodeos in all events. “They were called FFA rodeos,” said the 57 year old that calls Wayne, Oklahoma, home. “I was fortunate enough to be around the right guys and my dad was quite a horseman. We are a huge rodeo family, so that’s all we do.” Doug and his family lived in Tusla and in the early 70s they moved 90 miles east of there to get out of town. They built an arena and that’s where Doug really started honing his skills. He went one year to the IPRA rodeos, competing in tie down roping and team roping (heeler), earning the title as Rookie of the Year in the tie down roping. He hit the road in the PRCA circuit in 1981, as soon as he was 18. He was ranked in the top 20 year-end standings for several years, winning the top rodeos and invitational ropings of the year, nationwide, while traveling on a part-time basis. He was the PRCA’s Prairie Circuit Champion tie down roper and competed in many circuit finals in that event. He set an arena record at the Cheyenne Frontier Days in 1987 when they roped calves weighing 280-300 pounds, as well as winning their coveted championship buckle for the all-around title in 1995. He added steer roping to his events entered and in 2005 earned the Pendleton, Oregon Round-Up steer roping championship. The win helped boost him to the qualification for the 2005 PRCA National Finals Steer Roping where he won second in the average and top horse of the finals.
“I went as much as I could – I never set a goal to win this or that. I was training and traveling with some of the top guys so I couldn’t really go as much on my own.” Doug was riding and selling what he was riding to those guys. Doug has had horses either owned or ridden by Clark Quarter Horses at the National Finals Rodeo and National Finals Steer Roping Finals for over 30 years. Much of Doug’s career has been riding and training horses for the top ropers of the day, like Trevor Brazile, Tom Ferguson, and Roy Cooper. Never ‘living on the road’ entering and competing in rodeos, Doug’s real passion and specialty has been in training horses and people in a clinic format and one-on-one training in his home. “My dad was a great horseman – a quiet mild mannered gentleman – and learned how to be a good judge of horse flesh.” Doug was influenced by the old timers – great horsemen and ropers.
Along with the pros, Doug and his wife, Linda, have had the privilege of helping kids along the way. “We’ve had a lot of kids come live with us over the years. We still take kids in who want to get better in rodeo – but really it’s all about life – it all goes together.” Every one of the kids that have come through his doors has learned about everyday living. “That includes everything from riding 20-30 horses a day, shoeing, fixing corrals, cleaning pens – you name it.” It’s the Doug Clark school of hard knocks. The kids come in, learn how to be horsemen – sleep on a lumpy old couch and work alongside Doug to achieve their goals.
“The parents entrust us with their kids and that’s a huge compliment,” says Linda, who is the cook, but doesn’t admit to being the cleanup. Doug and Linda have one daughter, Darcy, who competed as well. Doug and Linda got married in 1985. “We met on Valentine’s Day at Baton Rouge at a rodeo,” he recalls. Six months later Doug and Linda were married. Darcy was born in 1991, and joined the rodeo road when she was young. “When Doug was horse showing, she went along. “We won a lot of awards including the Super Horse in 1999 one year, competing in all the roping events.” He was a trainer and exhibitor and judge during his time at the AQHA. Darcy competed on Doug’s old roping horses and qualified for the CNFR in 2008 in the barrel racing. She also won the breakaway at the IFYR in 2006. Darcy and her husband, Billy Good, a steer roper, still hit the rodeo road. Linda works part time as well as running a courier business with her daughter, Equine Courier Services, driving 10,000 miles a month delivering semen and embryos.
Not only does Doug train horses and hold clinics at every age and skill level in all roping disciplines, but for many years he showed horses in the American Quarter Horse Association. He was one of the teammates winning the 1999 Super Horse Award showing the stallion, Look Whos Larkin. Doug also has been involved training and even owning three of the many horses recognized as finalists for the AQHA/PRCA Horses of the Year, which is an award voted on, annually, by top ranked cowboys.
Doug has enjoyed his entire career and life being around the horse industry as a fourth generation rodeo participant. “I enjoy what we do and I want to keep doing it. We’ve got some good kids and some good horses,” concludes Doug. The Ben Johnson award is bestowed upon a person who has had a notable career in the arena, as well as, working outside the arena helping others to achieve their rodeo and personal goals. “I was honored with the award – I didn’t even know I was in there – it’s not what happened in the arena as much as what you can do for other people and helping them get where they want to go.”