When the Iron Horse Rodeo takes place in Pacific’s Liberty Field Oct. 11-12, four members of one Pacific family will be among the field of cowboys and cowgirls who rope and ride.
For Kevin and Kim McSorley and their sons Justin, 16, and Tyler, 11, rodeo competition is the family business.
They raise and train horses, raise beef cattle, work day jobs and go to school, but during the rodeo circuit everything at the McSorley ranch on Green River Trail in Pacific is about the rodeo.
Kevin, Justin and Tyler compete in roping events and Kim is a champion barrel racer.
By age 5, each of the boys had begun to learn the rigors of rodeo competition and have now competed in so many rodeos they can’t even begin to count the number. During the summer, every weekend, the family travels to a rodeo or horse competition.
“I like it better than anything there is to do,” said Justin, who was the Missouri Rodeo Cowboy Association (MRCA} rookie of the year in 2008, which he describes as his favorite all time prize. And he has won plenty.
By age 12, Kim was already a seasoned horsewoman, entering shows in the western and pleasure classes, managing a barn, leading trail rides and breaking horses. Justin is taking up the mantle of working with horses that have “manners problems,” training them to do the work of a rodeo athlete.
It was after they were married that Kevin got into rodeo competition.
“I told a friend at our wedding that I wanted a paint horse and I wanted to learn to calf rope,” McSorley said.
He found a buckskin and white horse named Buzz that was not rodeo trained and the two learned to rope together.
Caught up in rodeo calf roping, Kevin bought a quarter horse named Rusty that both he and Justin rode in competition.
Rusty turned out to be a champion in his own right, capturing the eye of Tyson Durphy, National Finals Rodeo (NFR) roping champion, who made the McSorleys an offer they couldn’t refuse. They sold Rusty, who can now be seen on Durphy’s numerous web pages.
“It still hurts to think about it,” McSorley said. “Justin won a lot of money on Rusty.”
There was never any question that the two boys would be rodeo cowboys if that was what they wanted to do.
“The rodeo is a wonderful place to raise kids,” Kevin McSorley said. “It’s all about ‘Yes Ma-am’ and ‘No Ma-am’ and opening doors, respecting other people. It’s a good life.”
All four McSorleys have won their share of titles, belt buckles and event purses, but getting into that ring and with a horse that knows what to do is not all about winning, they say.
“We do it for fun,” Kevin said. But Justin said there is more going on than fun.
“I never think about winning when the gate opens,” Justin said. “You have to focus totally on what you have to do. There’s nothing like it.”
Besides rodeo competitions, the entire family rides in the Show Me Time Event Challenge in Vienna, an all-event one-day competition.
The only thing that could top the life of a rodeo family is having a rodeo in their hometown, Kevin said.
“It’ll be the first time we ever went to a rodeo and didn’t have to stop for gas,” he said. “Even when we went to Eureka, we stopped for gas.”
McSorley predicts that Pacific organizers may be undershooting the draw of a rodeo at Pacific’s Liberty Field, where bleacher seats for 1,500 will be set up.
“They may end up having a lot more people than that,” he said.
The seasoned roper also predicts that when cowboys from around the state see the condition of the Liberty Field equestrian ring, the Iron Horse Rodeo could be in the running to be named the best ground or the best rodeo of the year.
The work that has been done on the Pacific field will make it one of the best rodeo rings on the 2013 circuit, they said.
“Brandon (Venhaus) and Jeremiah (Gullet) have done a wonderful job on the ground,” McSorley said. “It’s going to be perfect.”
Kim McSorley, who is MRCA secretary and was MRCA 2004 barrel racing champion, hopes that the Iron Horse Rodeo is just the beginning of events at Liberty Field.
“Chris Weber and I hope to put together some barrel races there,” she said.