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There have been a few highlights of my life that I will always remember.
Getting to see Trevor Brazile rope
Buying my first camera with the money that I made
Getting my first business cards
The first time I earned money for pictures that I had taken
And many more.
But one of the top highlights of my life was when I met LJ Jenkins.
I’m not ashamed to say that I freaked out like a fan girl.

This summer, the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo Days was held at Norris-Penrose Equestrian Center, just like it always is. My best friends happen to all board there. So…we snuck in once, although this year they REALLY upped the security. Big time.

Katie, Marley and me with Painted Valley!

Anyways, we got to see all of the stock and stuff during their off time. I got to take a picture with Painted Valley, Harry Vold’s prize bucking bronco. He was alone, since he’s a stud. But he was literally the sweetest stud I’ve ever met. And huge. And gorgeous. He came right over to us, licked our hand, and let us pet him…but as soon as he got in those chutes…he exploded. It was amazing.
Here’s a picture of me and two of my best friends with Painted Valley. You can barely see him…but yeah.

Running as a Herd...Protecting the Foal

Molly and Foal.

Molly and Foal.

We also got to see Vold’s other prize horse, the bareback mare Molly. She had had a foal not too long ago. It was amazing to see how the horses would circle the baby when they let them out to run in the arena. It was almost as if she was proud to show off her little one.
The whole herd moved together with the foal and its mom in the middle. You can’t even see the baby…but it’s there.

It was also awesome to see so many amazing bulls. I was really impressed with the caliber of bulls that the brought for that rodeo. Big Iron was there, so was Insaniac and Foolish Pride.
Before every rodeo, they let the animals out to run in the arena to stretch their legs, etc. Because my friends boarded there, we got to watch and I got some GREAT shots of the animals.

Rolling in the Dirt.

More Rolling.

Tony Romo (Four L & Diamond S Rodeo)

Voodoo Magic (Four L & Diamond S Rodeo)

Summer Night (Four L & Diamond S Rodeo)

Nightshade (solid black) and Tony Romo (Four L & Diamond S Rodeo)

I also got to meet J.W. Harris.
J.W. Harris has won 3 WNFR Bull Riding Championships in a row. No one has done that since Donnie Gay.
He’s kind of amazing.
I got a picture with him and even got an autograph. =].

Me and J.W. Harris!!!

Quite possibly the best part of that night, however was that I got to meet LJ Jenkins. THE LJ Jenkins. The LJ Jenkins that scored a 93.00 on the legendary Reindeer Dippin’…a bull that was only ridden twice out of 98 outs. The LJ Jenkins that was only the second person ever to ride and scored 94.00 points on Voodoo Child. The LJ Jenkins than won the PBR World Finals in 2006. The LJ Jenkins that scored 92.00 on Four L & Diamond S Rodeo’s Wind River and won the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo Days. And the LJ Jenkins that is ridiculously cute. =].
Yes, I, Gabriella Jaffee, met him.
Don’t think that I wasn’t intimidated. I was. Extremely. I of course knew who he was when he walked into the area where they were having the after-rodeo dance. I spotted him from a mile away.
I then whispered to my best friends, “You guys…that’s L.J. Jenkins. The one that won the rodeo. He rides in the PBR.”
To which my friend Katie said, “Do you want me to go talk to him?”
He was standing there alone, but I didn’t want to bother him. My heart was pounding so hard I thought I was going to puke.
“No, Katie! Don’t bother him.”
But, as Katie is apt to do, she strolled right on over to him and started talking to him.
Mortified, I made my way over.
“I’m sorry she’s bothering you. I told her not to,” I said.
“It’s no problem,” he said.
“You’re LJ Jenkins. You’re kind of my hero. I watch you every time you’re on the PBR. Your ride was amazing. 92 points? Super impressive,” I gushed out…embarassed afterwards.
“This is kind of weird…but can I give you a hug?” I asked.
He said sure and I did.
We talked a little more about how much I loved him and his riding and he blushed a little and thanked me.
A couple minutes went by, and I didn’t want to bother him too much, so I said goodbye and asked for one more hug, which he gave me.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get to take a picture with him.

But I got to meet him.
LJ Jenkins.
And I gave him TWO HUGS.
Not one…BUT TWO.
Needless to say, one of the highlights of my life. =].