Murray provided us with quite a ride

By Baxter Black: FNM columnist

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a real cowboy walk into the urban world spotlight and take it by storm.

Not since Ben Johnson, Wilford Brimley, Nolan Ryan and Mac Baldridge could I have pointed and said, “He’s one of us.”

Grandma Teddie watches “Wheel of Fortune” every weekday on Channel 9.

Three months ago, “Dancing with the Stars” began airing after “Wheel of Fortune.” I was cleaning up the dishes when I heard the MC read the list of 13 celebrity contestants. I didn’t recognize a soul until he said, “Ty Murray.”

Ty Murray? Seven times World Champion Cowboy? The man who said “Rodeo is not a hobby. If you want a hobby, collect stamps!” On “Dancing with the Stars?” It’s like they introduced Chuck Norris tatting doilies with Martha Stewart.

Watching Ty and his professional dance instructor-partner was always an experience. I would not pretend that I, or the majority of watchers, would have had the stamina, persistence and humility to attempt a 13-week contest that was so grueling. Had one of the terrorists been a contestant, by the third week he would have been begging, “Take me back to Guantanamo!”

Each week they had to learn the steps, slides, moves and lifts of a different dance; from the mambo, sambo, rhombo and tombo to the paso doble and quickstep … which I actually thought was a disease.

Amongst the moments of anguish and wincing, he would hit the mark or ride the wave and the crowd would cheer. We cowboys in the audience across the country rode with him on his weekly choreographed roller coaster ride.

We voted for him by the millions as show after show he remained standing with the winners. As I watched his weekly torture and survival, over and over I knew, we cowboys all knew, that when the chips were down he’s the man we’d want on our side.

There was only one time I doubted. It was when the choreographers included a dance move where his partner got down on her hands and knees bucking … and he climbed on, threw his arm back … never mind, I shouldn’t have brought it up.

Out of 13 competitors he came within three of winning the whole thing.

He left with his dignity intact, his fan base gigantified and his friends proud. And he did it all in good humor. In his own words,

“Teaching me how to dance is like trying to teach a blind man how to paint!”

I couldn’t have said it better.

Baxter Black is a self-described cowboy poet, ex-veterinarian and sorry team roper. He can be contacted at 1-800-654-2550 or by e-mail at: headcowboy@baxterblack.com