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Rop­ing vet­er­ans, West­Star re­sults and more

Un­der the um­brella of the non-profit Sem­per Fi Fund, re­tired Ma­rine Col. John Mayer or­ches­trates a year-round cow­boy pro­gram for post-9/11 ser­vice mem­bers. Cater­ing to all branches of the mil­i­tary, the Jinx McCain Horse­man­ship Pro­gram (JMHP) in­tro­duces its par­tic­i­pants to horse­man­ship, rop­ing and cat­tle­work in one fell swoop. The learn­ing curve is sharp for some­one who may have never even be horse­back, but the colonel quickly re­minds folks that this par­tic­u­lar gen­er­a­tion of vet­er­ans rep­re­sent the sin­gle 1 per­cent of the U.S. pop­u­la­tion that vol­un­teered to go to war. They need chal­lenge—it's where they ex­cel. Many of the clin­ics in­clude ranch rop­ing and ranch work, and over the years a num­ber of par­tic­i­pants have proven to be great hands, mas­ter­ing dif­fer­ent loops for dif­fer­ent sit­u­a­tions by par­tic­i­pat­ing in monthly rop­ing clin­ics, brand­ings and even se­cur­ing work on work­ing ranches' cow­boy crews. As the skills of these top hands im­prove, a few are even step­ping into the team rop­ing arena, par­tic­i­pat­ing in Trey John­son's rop­ing clin­ics at NRS Event Cen­ter in De­catur, Texas, and head­ing to horse sales in search of a team rop­ing horse of their own. The JMHP, which cur­rently serves about 300 vet­er­ans, grows by about five rid­ers per week. In ad­di­tion to rid­ing, rop­ing and ranch­ing, Col. Mayer also di­rects the Sem­per Fi Fund Ap­pren­tice­ship Pro­gram, which fea­tures craft clin­ics that in­clude leather­work­ing, spur build­ing, even en­gi­neer­ing rawhide hon­das, and serves to har­ness a vet­eran's en­thu-siasm for the cow­boy way of life. The pur­pose of this pro­gram is to help each vet­eran iden­tify a skill that may be used in a real, work­ing en­vi­ron­ment, and many of the par­tici-pants have gone on to start their own busi­nesses with these new­found cow­boy skills. ■

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