Cowboy rides bareback horse across buckle
ABILENE, KAN. (May 9, 2017) – Glen Dawson has his likeness on a belt buckle.
The Abilene, Kansas man has been selected as the cowboy to be pictured on the Wild Bill Hickok Rodeo’s annual buckle.
Dawson, a bareback rider and bull rider, is the first in the fifth series, with each series consisting of seven buckles, each with a cowboy from a different rodeo event featured on it (and in the barrel racing, a cowgirl.)
Dawson was born in 1933 and grew up in Abilene. He started rodeoing at the age of fourteen, after he worked for two Abilene ladies, Mrs. Clemmons and Mrs. Baker, who had show horses. He accompanied them to horse shows, where, at one of them, a steer riding was held. The ladies told Dawson they would pay his entry fee if he rode. He agreed, won the event, and was hooked from there.
Dawson graduated from Abilene High School in 1951 and served in the U.S. Army Airborne as a paratrooper from 1953 to 1955. He continued to rodeo while in the military, competing in Nashville while stationed at Ft. Campbell, Kentucky.
Even though he’s featured as a bareback rider on the buckle, his strength was the bull riding. “I was a lot better bull rider than bareback rider,” he said. He competed mainly in the Amateur Cowboys Association, an organization that sanctioned rodeos across Kansas, Colorado, Nebraska and Oklahoma, finishing the 1953 year as the bull riding champion.
Dawson married Joan Geske in 1956, and that year he broke a hip when he was bucked off a bareback horse at the Wild Bill Hickok Rodeo. He spent 28 days in traction while the hip healed.
By that point, he and Joan had a baby boy, and “it was either give (rodeo) up or give the family up,” Dawson said. “And it was more my idea to give up rodeo than hers.”
His rodeo days were over, but he and Joan make the trek to the rodeo grounds each year to watch the Abilene rodeo. The cowboys are better and the livestock is tougher, he said, and cowboys compete at more rodeos each weekend than in his day. “We’d go to a rodeo and spend two, three, four days in one place. Now, they’re here and gone in one day.”
The Dawsons have two sons: Justin, who lives in Albuquerque, and Geff, who lives near Alma. Geff was a bull rider and tie-down roper and competed on the K-State rodeo team. Like his dad, his best event was bull riding, and, like his dad, he’s also on an Abilene buckle: the 2009 buckle, as a bull rider. Geff’s granddaughter and Glen’s great-granddaughter Haddie Matzke is a junior barrel racer.
Glen claims the rodeo committee is “scraping the bottom of the barrel” to put him on the buckle, but that is not the case, according to his son Geff. “He’s modest,” Geff said. When Glen won the ACA championship in 1953, he rode two formerly unridden bulls and a bull that had been covered only once before.
The public can purchase a buckle by sending a check for $34 (include an additional $10 if the buckle needs to be shipped to purchaser). The check can be made out and sent to the Wild Bill Hickok Rodeo Committee, PO Box 235, Abilene, KS 67410. Deadline for ordering buckles is June 15.
The annual buckle auction will be held Friday, August 4, at 6:30 pm at the band shell on the Abilene fairgrounds. Buckles numbered one through ten and number 500 will be auctioned off. Other commemorative items will be also be for sale.
This year’s rodeo is August 2-5, beginning at 7:30 pm each night. Tickets will be on sale in July. For more information, visit the rodeo’s website at WildBillHickokRodeo.com or call the fairgrounds office at 785.263.4570.