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10/6/2013 6:00:00 AM
Injured Kingman cowboy gets back in the saddle
Courtesy
Levi Rogers, at center wearing a white hat, waves to the crowd as he rides in surrounded by supporters during the grand entry at the 29th Annual Andy Devine Days Rodeo. From left are Bill Stinemates, Rogers, Scott Honeycutt, Chas Barker and Janet Honeycutt. Stinemates and the Honeycutts are from Honeycutt Rodeo.
Courtesy
Levi Rogers, at center wearing a white hat, waves to the crowd as he rides in surrounded by supporters during the grand entry at the 29th Annual Andy Devine Days Rodeo. From left are Bill Stinemates, Rogers, Scott Honeycutt, Chas Barker and Janet Honeycutt. Stinemates and the Honeycutts are from Honeycutt Rodeo.
Courtesy
Levi Rogers and Chas Barker pose with the saddle Barker made for Rogers. The saddle, with its high back, enabled Rogers to finally live his dream of being able to ride again in the grand entry of the Andy Devine Days Rodeo.
Courtesy
Levi Rogers and Chas Barker pose with the saddle Barker made for Rogers. The saddle, with its high back, enabled Rogers to finally live his dream of being able to ride again in the grand entry of the Andy Devine Days Rodeo.

Kim Steele
Miner Staff Reporter


KINGMAN - Levi Rogers' dream of riding a horse in the grand entry of the Andy Devine Days PRCA Rodeo finally came true this year.

For Rogers, 43, that dream has been as difficult to lasso as a wild mustang sprinting across the desert. The former bronco-busting, bull-riding cowboy had been a participant in the rodeo since it began 29 years ago until he was seriously injured in a March 2007 automobile accident that left him unable to use his arms and legs. Rodeo took a back seat as he struggled to deal with his physical limitations.

But the dream came to life again last year when Rogers began equine-assisted therapeutic riding at Kingman's Healing Hooves, a nonprofit program designed to help children and adults with disabilities. For the first time since his accident, Rogers was able to mount and ride a horse with the use of a ramp and hoist.

At that time, he gave voice to his dream of eventually riding in the Andy Devine Days parade or rodeo again.

Rogers, a member of the Kingsmen, also began researching the type of saddle he would need to accomplish such a feat. When he found the high-backed saddle he was looking for, he took the idea and pictures to Chas Barker, another Kingsmen who runs a leather shop out of his home, and asked if Barker could make something for him.

The Kingsmen is a nonprofit organization of Kingman-area businessmen who sponsor the annual rodeo.

Barker gladly agreed, explaining he took Rogers' original saddle, stripped it to the wooden base and built it back up with a 24-inch fiberglass back reinforced with leather.

He also made an 8-inch-wide strap that goes across Rogers' chest like a wide seatbelt to hold him up. The creation took about 90 hours of work, said Barker, and the labor was free. The only cost to Rogers was $400 in supplies used to construct the saddle.

"I'd never done anything like this before," said Barker. "I was really honored to be asked to make the saddle, and I was very proud that what I did made his dream come true.

"Levi was a rodeo cowboy who rode bulls, and the accident took that away from him. He had almost given up on being in the rodeo again. When he rode in during the grand entry, there wasn't a dry eye in the house. He got a standing ovation. It was the best two minutes of my life."

Rogers rode in the grand entry, surrounded by cowboys there to support him and make sure he stayed in the saddle, both days of the rodeo last weekend. A crowd of about 4,000 watched, applauding wildly as he made his entrance.

Kurtis Manley, another member of the Kingsmen, said the atmosphere was emotional both days as the crowd watched Rogers ride Tux into the arena.

"I did not know Levi when he doing rodeo, but through the Kingsmen I knew how much he missed it," said Manley. "But when he rode into the arena and I saw the smile on his face, I am not ashamed to admit that I teared up. I was not alone, though. There were a lot of tears and cheering that day."

The experience was emotional for Rogers as well.

Rogers said his participation in the grand entry is only the beginning of his return to the rodeo circuit. Already, he's been invited to ride in the Silver Spurs rodeo in Yuma during February, and he hopes to visit a lot more - all on horseback.

"I've rodeoed and cowboyed all my life, but the accident in 2007 changed everything," said Rogers. "I felt very excited when I realized I'd be able to ride in the rodeo again. And I was speechless when I saw the saddle Chas made because I was in awe of the freedom it would give me to ride.

"There's no way I'll ever be able to repay him for what he's done for me."



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Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, October 9, 2013
Article comment by: rogers deborah

A dream came true, thanks to so many caring people. It was amazing to see Levi up in the saddle again. Healing Hooves gave him his first ride, What a awesome place Thanks! All those cowboys who lifted him up in the saddle from his wheel chair. WoW Don't remember all your names but Please remember how much Ralph and I love you for what you did for Levi.

Posted: Monday, October 7, 2013
Article comment by: Mary B

Very well written article, Kim Steele.

Posted: Monday, October 7, 2013
Article comment by: Scott O'Connor

I filmed the first time he rode again, after Levi's paralyzing accident. He embodies the true spirit of "Cowboy Up". Please watch the video highlighting his first ride back after five years.



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6yFa-HmKGVQ


Posted: Sunday, October 6, 2013
Article comment by: Laurie Loftis

Wish I could have been there to see an old friend accomplish his dream of getting back in the saddle at the rodeo I know I would have shared in the crowd with tears in my eyes as I read the article they were coming down my cheeks!
Much Love Dear Levi so happy for you xoxox


Posted: Sunday, October 6, 2013
Article comment by: Levi Rogers

I have so many people and friends to thank for this.
Starting with the God, without him nothing is possible. The Honeycutt rodeo family, you have been a second family to me for a long time. My beautiful daughter Theresa Rogers I am so glad you were there with me. It would have not been the same without you.
Chas Barker, I'm sure telling you that if everyone had friends like you. The world would be perfect. You are the best friend a slub like me could have. Dave Eller thank you for the use of your young man, Tux. Kingman Healing Hooves thank you for your help getting me back on my first horse.
My parents who gave up their own lives in order to make sure that I am taken care of. I love you all. Thank you is not enough.


Posted: Sunday, October 6, 2013
Article comment by: Amaryllis Smith

What a great story. Levi just give God Thanks and ask his blessings on Chas Barker and his family and God will repay him for you. God's Blessing to you both!

Posted: Sunday, October 6, 2013
Article comment by: Becky Hasrings Jordan

It was amazing to see you ride at healing hooves , and I'm sorry I missed this! Great job Levi ! Thank you Chas!! You both are amazing Cowboys and Levi, keep it up!!! I told you so! Thank you friend! Always, Becky



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