Related Articles & Links

Articles of Interest

All in the Family
An article published in the Texas Bar Journal.
September 2009.

Local Lawyer Spins into Family Pastime
A news article published in the Fort Worth Business Press.
June 8, 2009.

Father-Son Trick Ropers Continue Will Rogers Tradition
A news article published in the Claremore Daily Progress.
April 14, 2007.

A Family Career
A short essay written by Kent Durham.
Fall 1994.

Other Websites of Interest

Wild West Arts Club

The Wild West Arts Club was an organization dedicated to preserving and promoting the Western Arena Arts and many other heritage arts of the historic American West.  Although the organization has recently disbanded, its website still contains information of interest to those interested in the Western Arts.

National Cowboy Symposium

The National Cowboy Symposium is an annual event held in Lubbock, Texas focused on ranching, cowboys and the western way of life.  Beginning in 2008, the NCS hosted its first trick and fancy roping competition.

Will Rogers

This website is dedicated to celebrating the life of the world's most famous trick roper - Will Rogers.

Durham & Galindo, PLLC

In addition to being an accomplished trick and fancy roper, Kent Durham is also a distinguished attorney and, along with his wife, Gracie Galindo, a founding member of Durham & Galindo, PLLC.


Father-son trick ropers continue WR tradition

Will of the West

Published in the Claremore Daily Progress on April 14, 2007 01:41 pm



Kenneth Durham doesn’t know it and, as modest as he is, would blush that he be compared to Will Rogers.

Joan Wells, 2006 Will Rogers Wild West International Expo intermediate horse catch winner, knows a lot of trick ropers. Wells is one of the world’s foremost women trick ropers. She was the 1979 world’s champion trick roper and 10 years later was inducted into the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame Museum in Fort Worth. She has taken a page from Will Rogers and trained with the "best."

"I studied Will Rogers his (Will Rogers’) roping," she said "...with a 16mm file of ‘Roping Fool.’ The film is an instruction tool for many trick ropers.

"No trick roper can do what he did," Wells said. "The closest would be Kenneth Durham (Texas who was the 2006 Trick Roper of the Year) and Junior Eskew, her mentor and instructor."

Kenneth, who received the Will Rogers Trick Roper of the Year honor at the 2006 Will Rogers Wild West International Expo, has been the top price winner the past two years in advanced horse catch.

The Durhams are expected to be among the contestants in this year’s event beginning Thursday at the Claremore Expo Center. Although he’s been a member of Wild West Arts Club many years, Kenneth had never been to Las Vegas, home of the international convention and competition 16 years before moving to Claremore. He attends Texas regional events in Fort Worth and at Mark Mulligan’s Ranch in Clebure.

In 2005, the first year of the event in Claremore, it was Kent who received the Trick Roper of the Year honor. Just as Kenneth Durham mentors his son, a Fort Worth lawyer, his mentors were the late-greats Frank Dean and Eskew.

Dean, a friend of Will Rogers and mentor to many of the present-day trick ropers, had a vision of keeping alive the art of trick roping and other Western arena arts. A portion of his estate was left to Will Rogers Heritage for this purpose. Those funds are in trust and used each year as trick roping prize money at WWAC competition.

"He (Dean) knew a lot about roping . . . and he was a nice guy to boot." Kenneth said.

Kenneth’s knowledge about Will Rogers - until he came to Claremore two years ago - was what "Frank Dean told me." "He told a story about roping with Will the first time. He was roping and Will was in the audience. Will went down into the arena and tied an extra knot in Frank’s honda (for weight). Then he roped a wedding ring around Frank and his horse in the arena."

Kenneth spent some time with Dean learning rope tricks - and to this day uses an extra knot. Last year in the arena at Claremore, Kent roped a wedding ring around his father on horseback.

It was Eskew who taught Kenneth to rope. "He lived about an hour from me," he said. Eskew, who claimed the world’s championship in 1966 - as far as Kenneth is concerned - working with him was "always dealing with a champion. Nobody could match him. And he was gracious enough to teach me how to rope."

It is those techniques he has passed to his son. Although they live about 100 miles apart (Durham retired from Kaiser Aluminum), every time they get together they are roping. They make several appearances each year for private parties, banquets and entertaining kids.

Kent, who performed his first rodeo at 6 with his father, has a son who may follow in their footsteps.

They are ready to saddle up and return to Claremore this week with their Frank Dean-Will Rogers rope knots.


A Family Career

A Short Essay Written by Kent Durham
Fall 1994

Dedicated to My Dad

    I nervously trod through the deep sand, taking twice as many steps as my Father as I tried to keep up.  My boots were cumbersome and my costume uncomfortable, but these minor inconveniences were soon forgotten.  To this very day, I can distinctly hear the ring of the announcer's voice and our music, the theme song of "Bonanza," playing in the background.  My Father shook out his rope and began the performance.  I patiently, but eagerly, waited for his routine to end.  He tipped his hat, and little could be heard above the cheers of the crowd.  Now I could hear the booming voice from the speakers begin to talk about me.  I picked up my rope and ran over to our platform.  As I looked out at the audience of over 2,000 strangers, I became extremely nervous.  Then I looked toward my Father for a boost of encouragement, which he promptly gave me with a big smile and a wink.  I shook my rope out and began spinning it just as Dad has taught me.  Immediately, the roar of the crowd could be heard.  This was the debut of a rare, father-son trick roping team.

    Trick roping is a fascinating and unique art in the sense that few have mastered it.  Performances average seven to ten minutes in length and consist of various maneuvers or "tricks."  These feats are accomplished with an ordinary, tightly wound, cotton rope.  However, in the hands of an accomplished performer, that ordinary rope can produce images that even a skilled poet could do no justice to.  Perhaps this ability to awe audiences by creating something so beautiful with such a simple instrument was the spark that kindled my interest in trick roping as a youngster.

    As might be expected, there are several different styles of trick roping.  Some prefer to rope with lots of speed and animation, while others strive for a slower, more graceful performance.  My Father and I best fit into the latter category.  We attempt to display smoothness and complete contol even in the most difficult of tricks.  Achieving this level of ability demands many hours of intense practicing over a period of several years.  I spent these hours under the wonderful direction of my Father.  At times, in the beginning of my roping career, I felt that my time had been wasted and with a large part of my life.  It was times such as these that I considered restructuring my priorities and placing my unique hobby at the bottom of the list.  However, my Father's quiet encouragement prompted me to press on.

    Soon, acclaim and honor crept into my hobby.  After placing as a finalist in several national talent contests, I took advantage of the opportunity, along with my Father, to appear in a country music video performed by Little Texas entitled "God Blessed Texas."  Within the next year, my Father displayed his talent in a nationally viewed Coca-Cola commercial.

    Today, as my resume enlarges, I am reminded of those countless hours in the backyard with my Father.  Often, I would throw my rope down after a series of failed attempts at a new trick and promptly threaten to never try again.  Then he would walk over, pick up my rope, and remind me of the difficultly of what is was attempting.  He would tell me that the things truly worthwhile in my life would not be accomplished with ease and they involve immense dedication and determination.  I would take the rope from his hand and try again and again until I found success.  Every new trick I learned seemed to bring my Father and I that much closer.  Then, at the conclusion of each practice, he would put his arm around me and congratulate me.  At each of these moments I would make a silent vow to myself to continue developing my talent until the end of my days.

    It is difficult for me to image my life now without the art of trick roping.  Without it, my relationship with my Dad would probably be much weaker.  This relationship is a great inspiration to both of us, without which life would take on a totally different perspective.  What could be more fitting than for a rope to be the unbreakable bond that ties a father and son together?

Local lawyer spins into family pastime



June 08, 2009

Kent Durham has a few tricks up his sleeve, but never in the courtroom.

Name partner at Fort Worth law firm Durham & Galindo PLLC, Durham is known for practice areas that include general business and corporate law, mergers and acquisitions, commercial and residential real estate transactions, and contracts.

Outside his law practice, the 32-year-old attorney is becoming known for something a bit fancier.

Durham teams with his dad Kenneth Durham and seven-year-old son Chandler Durham to make up the award-winning Durham Family Trick Ropers, billed as the world’s most complete trick and fancy roping act. The three generations of Durhams perform at rodeos, wild west shows, schools, conventions, corporate and private parties, in videos and commercials and on TV.

“It’s a fun sideline,” Durham said. “We’ve never done it for a living but it’s helped me a lot. It’s distinguished me from other lawyers. Sometimes when I’m working on a deal, I’ve had other attorneys who’ve Googled me and they’ll ask if I really am the trick roping guy. It really surprises some of them when I say yes.”

A native of Bells, a small rural town near Sherman and Denison, Durham grew up exhibiting the usual menagerie of steers, pigs and sheep at county shows and fairs. He won a scholarship from the San Antonio Livestock Exposition and graduated summa cum laude from Texas Tech University with a degree in agricultural and applied economics. A course in ag law steered him to Texas Tech University School of Law, from which he graduated with honors in 2001.

Following admission to the State Bar of Texas and marriage to college sweetheart and law school classmate Gracie Galindo – the Galindo in the firm – Durham began practicing corporate and securities law in the Fort Worth office of Kelly, Hart & Hallman LLP. He later joined the in-house legal team of Canadian-based IESI Corp., where he negotiated and documented the company’s acquisitions for its U.S. operations. He and his wife formed their firm in January 2008. Galindo currently serves as a counselor for the Fort Worth Independent School District and practices part time in small estate planning and wills and trusts.

“The recession has slowed down mergers and acquisitions,” Durham said, who also serves as an officer and director of two Virginia-based solid waste companies. “We’re starting to see some improvement in the economy. Things are picking up with the waste companies I’m with.

Durham was a youngster when his father started teaching him the ropes of spinning and throwing skills using lassos. The lasso is a well known tool of American cowboys, who developed roping to catch animals. Trick roping as a form of entertainment grew from these ranching skills.

“It wasn’t easy to learn but lots of fun,” Durham said. “It’s a good way to keep up with our past and our heritage.”

Now 68 and retired after 41 years at Kaiser Aluminum Corp., the elder Durham learned roping from his father and grandfather on their Oklahoma ranch.

“I always wanted to be a cowboy. It’s all I ever wanted to be,” said Kenneth Durham. “My dad’s 95 and could still spin a pretty good loop when he was about 92,” he added.

While in college, Kenneth befriended 1966 world champion roper Junior Eskew, who became his mentor and instructor until Eskew’s death in 1977.

“If it hadn’t been for him I never would have been much of a roper,” Kenneth said.

Another of Kenneth’s mentors was Frank Dean, a friend of Will Rogers. Rogers is considered by many to be the foremost trick and fancy roper.

“Will Rogers is by far the most famous trick roper. He learned a lot of that on his own, which is amazing,” Kent said. “I’ve spent a lot of time trying to do stuff I’ve seen him do on video and I can’t do it the way he did it.”

Both Durhams are bullish on their pastime and are fierce competitors in national and international contests. Kenneth received the Will Rogers Trick Roper of the Year award in 2006 and took top honors for horse catching three years running. Kent was named Trick Roper of the Year in 2005 and also has picked up awards for horse catching, a more difficult fancy trick he learned from his father.

Kenneth said there are many trick ropers around today but few fancy ropers, and he considers his son to be one of the best, particularly at horse catching.

“He usually performs that because he’s more perfected at it than I am,”Kent said. “That’s something unique among trick ropers and fancy ropers.”

Website Builder