FORT WORTH, Texas — Stephen Robinson puts in hours and hours of practicing cattle roping. It's a competitive sport that comes with a lot of demands, training and concentration. Robinson is training his horse named Wendy with hopes of getting faster than the competition.
"If you want to win and, you know, be good, you got to get there and practice," Robinson said. "So practice is not fun. The rodeo was fun."
Fun at the rodeo involves landing a good score and prize money. Robinson competes all over Texas and in other states.
Robinson said he was just a kid when he first got on a horse, which eventually led to learning how to ride.
"I probably started learning how to actually ride a horse probably when I was about 12, 13," Robinson said. "My God dad, he started teaching me how to ride when I was about that age. Of course, we have to do a lot of work before riding, but it was probably all day of working and probably an hour or two of riding."
When Robinson isn't wearing his cowboy hat, he wears an even more important one. He is one of Fort Worth's finest.
As a neighborhood police officer, Robinson has a heart for young people and has made many friends.
His love for law enforcement stems first from his mother -- who worked at a prison. Robinson decided to follow in her footsteps and landed a job as a corrections officer at a local jail.
But being inside, and essentially under a locked facility while at work all day, got old and boring pretty quick.
Robinson liked the community interaction he noticed while watching the TV reality show 'Cops'. After watching the episodes recorded so close to home, he made a slight career change.
"Watching 'Cops' and seeing some of the Fort Worth of episodes, I was like, 'man, that's what I want to do'," said Robinson.
So, he decided to become a Fort Worth police officer.
But when he's not doing police work, he's likely grooming his horse Wendy. Owning a horse is no small task. He has to make sure Wendy is not only groomed, but also fed and healthy. A weekend trip to the vet can land Robinson a bill ranging anywhere from $200 to a couple of thousand dollars.
Then on top of that, there are the expenses of equipment, competition gear and must-have items for Wendy like horseshoes, shampoos, hairbrushes and more.
Robinson uses much of his downtime bonding with Wendy, which will hopefully also improve her performance at the rodeo.
"I've had her for a couple of years, so when I got her, she was... She wasn't a finished rope horse or finished horse I can go to rodeo on," said Robinson.
Learning to get on the horse is pretty easy, but people who ride all the time put in a lot more work, especially if you have big dreams.
"My biggest dream at first. I mean, I will say it's not out of the question, but, uh, you know, maybe making it to the national finals rodeo," said Robinson.
That means long hours tending to Wendy, even sometimes back-to-back days after working his police beat.
"Sometimes the job can be stressful, just like any other job. They just have different stressors. But this is my way of releasing that stress," Robinson said. "Don't have to think about police work, don't have to talk about it."
Robinson hopes to qualify for the upcoming summer Bill Pickett Rodeo competitions in Fort Worth. He and Wendy will enter several other rodeo events between now and then, with hopes of getting better and faster along the way.