How can you be a cowboy without a horse? Cole Sheetz knows. He’s ready to prove it with a list of ways that he counts off on his fingers.
“I’ve got a pistol, a belt buckle, cowboy boots and a cowboy hat,” he says and pauses for a second to think.
“I’ve also got cowboy friends,” he adds, “and I’m one handsome guy.”
Cole, 5, and his younger brother Dylan, 3, find no shame in being cowboys who travel on two feet instead of four hooves. After all, they have Quincy and Quincy, a pair of hobby horses, to gallop around on.
“I named mine Quincy first,” Cole explains. “He was such a good horse that Dylan named his horse Quincy, too.”
Cole, Dylan and about 30 other horseless cowboys and cowgirls, all age 5 and younger, took part in the Little Britches Rodeo earlier this month during Hallsville’s Heritage Days.
The competition featured standard rodeo events like barrel racing and calf roping, which used hobby horses and straw bales fitted with plastic calf heads instead of live animals. There were also nontraditional events such as interviews with judges and a best-dressed cowboy and cowgirl competition.
Just like grown-up rodeos, the Little Britches participants competed for trophies and cash prizes. And just like grown-up cowboys, little ones like Cole know rodeos can be more about the friendships than the prize money.
During the calf roping competition, Cole cheers on other contestants, yelling, “Give it your best shot. We all can win.”
Then, he walks up to introduce himself to a fellow cowboy he’s never met.
“You’re my friend, you know. You’re my new friend,” he says to Tyler Reinerd, 4, patting him on the shoulder. “What’s your name, anyway?”