Well-Trained Animals Know Trusting Voices

To The Reader’s Forum:

I read the article in the Post-Journal: “Isley returning as rodeo’s entertainer” (July 19 issue). I am pleased that award-winning rodeo-clown Keith Isley was at the Gerry Fire Department’s PRCA rodeo on August 4-7.

Many people take rodeo-clowns for granted, yet their ability to distract wild bulls have saved the lives of countless cowboys. Although audiences laugh and cheer when a rodeo clown hops into a barrel at the last-second, it requires a lot of agility and dexterity. A few years ago, I met rodeo-clown Keith Isley at a rodeo in Gladewater, Texas.

He and I got to conversing.

My late dad’s paternal grandmother was Hannah Jane (Isley) Marples (1840-1931). She is buried at Blue Springs, Nebraska, in Gage County, due north of Manhattan on U.S. Highway 77. Her father, Peter Isley was born in North Carolina as was rodeo-clown Keith Isley. It was a pleasure to discover that he is a distant cousin to me. Having 47 years of experience, he also has the skill and personality to be a true professional — and genuine rodeo legend. And, it took a rodeo for me to provide a chance to make such a pleasant discovery. Keith Isley does especially well with trained horses. In a way, he reminds me of my late grandfather John Marples who died in 1934 long before I was born. He, too, was skilled in training horses as well as mules who would obey his verbal commands of “Gee” (turn right) and “Haw” (turn left) and he wouldn’t even need to be in a wagon nor hold the reins. Well-trained animals know a voice they trust. And, those talents must run-in-the-family.


James A. Marples.

Longview, Texas


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