by Jim Bainbridge | Aug 10, 2016
By Ruth Nicolaus/for the Inter-State Rodeo committee
COFFEYVILLE, Kan. — A special horse is making Ace Slone’s rodeo year exceptional.
The Cuero, Texas cowboy leads the tie-down roping at the Inter-State Rodeo in Coffeyville, Kan., and he’s doing it on a good friend’s horse.
Slone made an 8.1-second run on the first night of the Coffeyville rodeo, aboard a 10-year old sorrel named Ripple.
His relationship with Ripple came about in a unique way.
A few years ago, as he left Salt Lake City, Slone pulled over on the side of the road to let his truck cool. A rodeo family from Evanston, Wyo., Justin and Lindie Martin, stopped to offer assistance.
The Martins, who have six kids, are a tie-down roping family, and a friendship was struck.
As Slone and the Martins became better friends, he occasionally stopped by their ranch in Wyoming. “Over the years, we built a really strong friendship,” he said. “They invited me to come stay with them if I ever needed a place to rope. I got to swing in there a couple of times, and now I’ve gotten to be really close with the whole family.”
The Martins’ oldest son, A.C., graduated from high school last year and began a two-year mission for the LDS church. That’s when Ace got a phone call.
“He told me, if I needed Ripple, he would like for me to have a chance to ride his horse.” A.C. had roped off Ripple, who was a little more high-powered than the younger Martin kids could use.
But Ripple was just what Slone needed. They worked out a two-year lease, and the sorrel has revitalized Slone’s career.
Slone is ranked 22nd in the WEATHER GUARD PRCA World Standings, just $5,000 shy of the top 15, who go on to qualify for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo presented by POLARIS RANGER.
“He’s been phenomenal,” Slone said of the horse. “It’s been a lot of fun. (The Martins) have been excited to follow me and my name in the standings, and know that they have everything in the world to do with it.”
In 2010, Slone’s rookie year, he was ranked eighth in the world when he tore a knee ligament at a rodeo in California in July, ending his season. The next year, he rehabilitated his knee and focused on college.
In 2012, he ended up 16th in the world, one hole out of the Wrangler NFR, getting knocked out of the standings on the last day of the rodeo year.
That sent his “sucker in the dirt,” he said. “It burned me pretty bad, being 14th on September 30 and 16th on October 1,” (the end of the rodeo year). It left him not willing to rope much the next year. “I thought they’d cancel all the rodeos because I didn’t show up,” he laughed. “I learned that being out here is more fun than being at home, but it took a while.”
Then, the next year, in 2014, his horse was hurt, limiting his roping again. “I didn’t realize how important a good horse was, until he was hurt.
“I spent the last couple years, doubting myself, and doubting everything, because I didn’t have the horse power.”
Ripple has made the difference in his rodeo and his attitude. “It has absolutely changed my roping and brought my confidence back. Hopefully I can give us a chance,” at a Wrangler NFR run.
Slone’s wife Allie travels with him; they married on June 5.
Other leaders after the first night of rodeo include bareback rider Frank Morton, Wright, Kan. (81 points), steer wrestler Kaleb Summers, Claremore, Okla. (6.3 seconds), saddle bronc rider Jace Lane, Stephenville, Texas (80 points), team ropers Cody Graham, Everton, Mo. and Jason Stroup, Cape Girardeau, Mo. (11.0 seconds), steer roper Shorty Garten, Pawhuska, Okla. (14.4 seconds), and barrel racer Stevi Hillman, Weatherford, Texas (17.75 seconds). No bull riders made a qualified ride.
The Thursday night edition of the Inter-State Rodeo is Tough Enough to Wear Pink night. Fans are asked to wear pink and voluntary donations will be picked up to benefit breast cancer patients in the area. The rodeo begins at 7:30 pm. The carnival begins at 6 p.m., and there will be four livestock shows: rabbits, sheep, poultry, and goats. For more information and a complete schedule, visit the website at www.fairandrodeo.com.
Courtesy of PRCA