JUNE 2019 THE RIDER/ 9 INSIDE The Pioneers Of Rodeo I remember Leroy Kufske “I met Leroy at a WHA Clinic in London Ontario, I

was 16 years old and asked him for a job.” —- These are not my words, but the words of a youngster whose life was changed forever by a chance encounter with Leroy Kufske, so many, many years ago. Lets backup a bit back to 1954. Leroy was a early day Ontario cowboy who touched

more than a life or two going down the road. Training/ breaking colts was LeRoy’s life, supported by his ever growing job as a blacksmith, shoeing horses within travel distance of Ken Mathews Horse facility on Highway 8 just on the east edge of Kitchener. Leroy traveled in the early days from one horse shoeing to the next by horseback.

one that knew Kufske knew that he loved to gamble. Every- one knew this except,


guessed it, me the


eyed eager 16 year old kid. Leroy Would teach me over the next few months how to throw a knife and a hatchet. I would discover much


that Leroy was an expert. He told me years later that I was a good student. I guess maybe I was, but it took me two months of not keeping any of my wages to learn that I should never gamble knife throwing with Kufske.” Right kid, that is pretty, pretty sharp. Pun intended. 0h yeh,I sure did get the “Point.” The 16 year old, now feeling more relaxed went on

to explain, “When I grew up my heroes were on TV. All were cowboys, or I guess cowboy actors, the Lone Ranger, Hop-along Cassidy and Roy Rodgers. LeRoy was the real deal. He was not an actor but a real life cowboy.” I stayed with him for about 5 or 6 years and was blessed with the opportunity to learn how to shoe a horse from the expert Leroy Kufske.” “LeRoy showed me how to safely and

Think about that. His Customers with horses to shoe, or looking to buy a horse, would check out what Kufske had or could find for them or ask for just good trustworthy ad- vice on buying a horse. Leroy was a cowboy handy with a rope and a pretty

darn good bronc-rider. He did enter and ride Novice saddle broncs at the Calgary Stampede. Lets get back to the 16 year old who convinced Leroy to give him a job. 16 year old “I spent the Easter holidays at Leroy’s

place and I went back later for a summer job. Leroy paid me $25.00 per week plus room and board.” “Now every-

humanely hobble to handle a wild unbroken or even some saddle horses that were a little on the mean side.” He con- tinued. “When I would run into a problem with a colt, Leroy would help a bit, but he wanted me to think it out. He made me think. He once told me”— “to be a good horse trainer you need to be able to think like a horse and most important get that horse to think like you.” LeRoy was not the norm, well different would describe him bet- ter. He would sometimes sit for hours watching a horse and finally would nod his head a say that’s it kid.That’s what is wrong.” remembers a 16 year old kid. “I remember that the next day the horses always

seemed to understand.” Kufske would smile, champing on that little stub of a cigar between his teeth.” Leroy would try some crazy things but most of the time he would win out.” chuckled the 16 year old. “The most important thing that

Kufske taught me was that the most valuable possession a man can ever have are his friends. What he taught me was life, what he meant to me was more than life more than a friend. We were family. When Leroy died, he left me with a great deal of his wealth.” I was blessed and I will never forget him Leroy Kufske.

NOTE: If you haven’t guessed by now the 16 year old kid in this story was— Craig Black, Craig Black. —— A future Pioneer of Rodeo.

To wrap up this story, Leroy

Kufske was one of three men, Archie McArthur, Leroy Kufske and George He- witt, they got together and founded the On- tario Rodeo Association 1957. Full story in the “Keep Spurring Books ......... Leroy Kufske was another of the originals, a True Pioneer of Rodeo. For more of the history and lots of old

“Humane” Horse hobble demonstration with Leroy Kufske and Craig Black

photos of Rodeo in Ontario, between 1950’s to 1990 the early years. Read “Keep Spurring ‘Til the Whistle blows” & “Keep Spurring the Sequel” the recorded history, the ups and downs of Rodeo in Ontario and the PIO- NEERS of RODEO. Until next time I’m George Hewitt


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