Stephen Robinson pulled up on his horse, Wendy Lou, dismounted, untacked, then took a seat on the edge of the trailer and looked out toward the pasture.
At first glance, you would think this is just another typical day for him – clean the stables, check on the horses, take Wendy for a ride, and then reflect. On this day, he reflects on how his godfather, Tam Phillips, got him into the western lifestyle.
“Honestly, since I was little coming out here, a lot of times when I go buy small stuff like feed or paying for this or paying for that for my horse or whatever, I always think back like ‘Tam got me doing this,’” Stephen said. “If I hadn’t met him as a baby, there’s no telling what I’d be doing.”
But this is only half of Stephen’s day. When he’s not at his godfather’s ranch in Alvarado, he’s patrolling the streets of Fort Worth as a member of the Fort Worth police department.
Ever since he can remember, Stephen has always had a passion for two things: horses and law enforcement. Stephen has worked hard and continued to learn both professions even today.
“You’re always learning,” Stephen explained. “I’ve been on (Fort Worth PD) about five years now, and I’m still learning, so there’s always room for improvement – different ways to handle situations. You’re never going to be in the same situation twice. So when you’re practicing, it may be something as little as a calf; it may take a step to the left or right about the time you throw your rope. It’s never going to run straight down the middle. So with both, you’re always learning.”
He’s always had his family’s support the entire way through both. His mother worked for the federal prison, which led to Stephen’s initial interest in law enforcement, and Tam owned a ranch that allowed Stephen to have a place where he could learn to ride.
“From the time he was a toddler, he was just glued to the horses,” Tam said. “His mama wanted to take him to do the face painting or do something that the other kids were doing, and Stephen would say, ‘I want to stay here with the horses.’ He also had that same passion for being a police officer. I saw him go through trial after trial, trying to get on with Forest Hill PD and Fort Worth PD, and his persistence in both cases paid off.”
Tam has had a front-row seat to Stephen’s entire career as a roper and helped Stephen get started as a rider. Stephen did everything possible to put himself around horses, from riding them non-stop as a kid at events to traveling down to the Houston Rodeo to join the trail ride, to even helping out with a mounted drill team where he warmed up the horses and cooled them down.
“To get comfortable riding, it took probably four to five years,” Stephen said. “About four to five years before, I was like, ‘okay, no big deal. I can go rope on this horse and that horse and then have a chance to win something.’”
Stephen has competed throughout the state at numerous rodeos for over a decade. He is slated to compete at the upcoming Bill Pickett Rodeo at the Cowtown Coliseum in the Fort Worth Stockyards on August 20. The Bill Pickett Rodeo doesn’t just represent another chance to win something at a rodeo. It’s much bigger than that.
The Bill Pickett Rodeo celebrates some of the best Black cowboys and cowgirls and their contributions to western culture and history.
“It’s neat to be able to show that there are more cowboys that are African Americans,” Stephen said about the upcoming Bill Pickett Rodeo. “They see we’re out here, more of us than what you would think, right? So for [our fans] to learn about it, they get excited about seeing us.”
Courtesy of Justin Boots.
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