On the Trail with the Clown Family
The Harrison family is affectionately known across the rodeo world as the “Clown Family.” John and Carla Harrison and their four children: Addy, Caz, Billie, […]
Rowdy Norwood of Amarillo, Texas, makes his debut at the 2018 NLBFR in July leading the senior boy rookie standings with 3,207 points separating him from second place. Rowdy, 16, originally joined the association with the goal of qualifying for the 2019 Jr. Ironman. He put his nose to the grindstone, and when he looked up, not only had he qualified for the NLBFR in all of his events—team roping, steer wrestling, ribbon roping, and tie-down roping—but he also made the Top Hand Team in each event.
Rodeo has been Rowdy’s sport of choice since childhood, though he also played basketball for several years and showed pigs in FFA in sixth and seventh grade. When it came time to choose between sports, he and his older brother, Justin (18), chose rodeo without hesitation, competing in junior rodeos and ranch rodeos before moving up to high school and Little Britches. “In Little Britches, you get to meet a lot of new people from areas you’ve never been before, and it’s really one of the only other national associations besides high school. We tried to start a franchise a few times when we moved here, but we couldn’t find anyone to host the rodeos. Kyle Northrup started the Texas Panhandle Little Britches and we got involved with it here,” says Rowdy, whose name was inspired by a roping his dad went to. “My dad always wanted to have a little girl, and he was convinced when my mom was pregnant that I was going to be his little girl. All he could think of was names for girls. MB Anderson, our neighbor, was announcing a roping my dad entered, and he couldn’t read my dad’s handwriting and announced his name as Rowdy, so now I’m Rowdy.”
The Norwood’s moved to Texas from Olney Springs, Colorado, where they ran a small cattle ranch until the drought took hold. In 2007, Rowdy’s dad took a job in Texas, and the environment they moved to has played a central role in Rowdy and Justin’s rodeo careers. With a rodeo or roping held within a ten-mile radius of their house year round, Rowdy and Justin never lack for opportunities to compete, while they can get to a rodeo in New Mexico, Colorado, Oklahoma, or Kansas within four hours. The brothers team rope together, Rowdy heading and Justin heeling, while Justin hazes for Rowdy in the steer wrestling. Rowdy won the NRS Little Britches Rodeo Association all-around, steer wrestling, tie-down roping, and ribbon roping year-end titles in June. He racked up the majority of his rookie of the year points at the NRS LBRA franchise, competing in 24 of the 32 rodeos held in Decatur, Texas, at the NRS Events Center. His ribbon roping partner, Sophia Joyner, is also in contention for the NLBRA Senior Girl Rookie of the Year title.
Equally crucial to Rowdy and Justin’s rodeo success are their parents, Randy and Bobbi Norwood. Randy is often working out of town as a welding pipeline inspector but comes to as many of their rodeos as possible, including state finals and the NLBFR, and watched videos of their runs to give them pointers. Bobbi teaches high school chemistry and physics, and hauls Rowdy and Justin to all of their Little Britches and high school rodeos. “We get a list written and everybody takes some responsibility getting ready to go, and I do the final walk through to make sure everything on the list is done,” says Bobbi, who also helps with timing or secretary work at the rodeos when needed. “Every horse I’ve ever tried to rope on has wound up being one of the boys’ horses, and I’m protesting now saying they have to make a horse for me. They help out with the driving, and they haul by themselves occasionally.” Bobbi competed in the NLBRA in the 1970s, including team roping with her sister. “The competition in Colorado was always pretty stiff with Little Britches headquartered there, and since the finals has moved to Guthrie, I feel the sheer number of contestants has increased immensely, which makes the competition increase. It’s an awesome association, and you’re not hauling all over the country with your kids to get them qualified.”
The brothers also compete in Region 1 THSRA, and Rowdy qualified for state finals in the team roping with Justin, and steer wrestling, which he finished 13th in at state finals. He advanced to state finals last season in the steer wrestling as well, his first year competing in his favorite event since he advanced from chute dogging. “I just like how high speed it is,” says Rowdy, who was the High Plains Junior Rodeo Association Year-End Reserve Chute Dogging Champion in 2015. “Chase Pope, a local guy, did high school rodeos when he was younger, and he started teaching me chute dogging. I did Jace Honey’s bulldogging clinic and a few of Rope Myers’ clinics. I’m pretty much the first in my family to bulldog, and my cousin Dakota Camfield started it this year as well in Little Britches.“The roan horse I bulldog on, he’s our old team roping horse, and everyone in my family has won money on him. Ace has taken me pretty far in bulldogging,” says Rowdy. “My calf horse, Joker, I just got this year, and we’re just starting to get together now. Smoke is my team roping and ribbon roping horse. He was a calf roping horse first, and I stepped him up and he’s a really good team roping horse.” Rowdy and Justin practice and ride daily, either at their home arena, which Rowdy and Randy built together several years ago, or another local arena. Bobbi runs chutes and videos for them, and helps with tacking up and exercising horses. “When we travel, we talk about how the week’s been and watch our videos—video is one of the most amazing practice tools we have nowadays,” says Rowdy, who scarcely ever gets into the truck without his blue heeler, Dale, at his side.
Time on the road also gives Rowdy a chance to work on school. Last year when he was a junior, he switched to homeschooling, and plans to continue it through his senior year. “Rowdy gets the chance to work horses in the daytime in the winter, and he got a colt and has been able to ride it some,” says Bobbi. “He had to urge us toward homeschooling, and it’s the same deal,—we make a list of things to get done while homeschooling, and he brands and does some welding for a construction guy here. It’s a taste of the adult life and what it takes. Most kids that rodeo have to be disciplined to practice. We had a 15-minute rule—if you had a bad run, you had 15 minutes to be aggravated, and then go on to your next event. With the events in Little Britches back to back, we had to change that to a 15-second rule, and that really helped Rowdy. We’re just disappointed we didn’t join Little Britches sooner so Justin could have hauled more. He’s going to Dodge City Community College this fall and team roping for the Conquistadors.”
Rowdy also enjoys welding with his dad and kicking back at the family’s swimming pool, but it’s more likely he’s in the arena riding. His hard work won him a large check from the Double G Memorial Timed Event Rodeo in Canadian, Texas, last year, where he won the all-around, team roping, chute dogging, and tie-down roping. If Rowdy could enter any rodeo in the country, he’d choose Cheyenne Frontier Days, and hopes to back into the box of The Daddy of ‘Em All once he starts rodeoing professionally. “I’d like to make a career out of rodeo, and I’d love to rodeo through college and the rest of my life if I can.”
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