Jimmy Bankston Cornbread

Cornbread Thinks: Keep the Money, Just Send Me to the Herd

There was a man showing at the National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) Futurity by the grace of God. He insisted I include that in his story.

After hearing it — and only part of it — I must agree. Showing in the Amateur, we noticed him because of his chaps first. They were black bat wings with rivets outlining playing card suites — hearts, spades, clubs and diamonds. He got through it; it was not enough to advance, but he was thrilled, absolutely thrilled. He had a cheering section in the boxes at about the 30-yard line on the silk stocking row side of the Coliseum. He waved to the crowd, pumped his hands … you would have thought he marked a 300.

Me being noisy and all, I had to check this out. Buttermilk told me to write my column about him. Now I’m late, but it’s too good not to share.

His name is Bill Brotherton, and he’s from Georgetown, Florida. He is fighting cancer — stage 4 cancer. He has been cutting about six years. He and his wife, Marceile, were trail riders. He rides with Ted Sokol and Trey Wilson primarily, but he has great praise for many others who help him, one of which is Austin Shepard. Of course. Austin, always Austin. I would not expect anything less. Cutting like it is supposed to be.

Bill was looking for trail horses when he ran across Ted. Well, Ted being the sneaky devil he is, asked Bill to “just turn back” one day. If you have this genetic defect of cutting in your DNA, then you know the rest of the story.

His chaps were not a “rookie” affectation; he likes older, authentic gear and tack. He has much and shows in it. Me being a person who likes “costumes,” this is cool. Way cool. He loves history, so he is my new best friend, and for lots of other reasons. He should be yours, too.

Here is some of what he endures in life right now. He pretty much only wants to do two things — one, to live, just not die; and two, go to the herd, the one in Will Rogers Coliseum in particular.

Bill said that alone is a dream come true for him. Checks are not even in the picture, he just wanted ride to the herd. He has no feeling from the waist down. He has muscle control, though, so he depends on his help AND his cheering section to yell at him to KICK!!! He has a port in his chest for treatment, which he left the Futurity early to go home for. He runs out of air, so he has a signal for his help. He also has a hearing device with a microphone for his corner help.

This started in 1988 with colon cancer, which he beat at that time, but it has returned and metastasized into his lungs and liver. When it first became evident a second time, it required colon surgery. The vets told him to go home and rest. Eight days later, he went cutting to get qualified for the NCHA Eastern National Championships. The doctors think every time we get on a horse it’s in a bucking chute. For most of us, a saddle is the most comfortable place we ever are, for Bill especially; he spent four hours riding around Will Rogers his first day.

Bill spoke of many other issues. Any one of them could be a complete roadblock to going anywhere, much less cutting. As I already said, the one thing he referred to over and over and wanted to tell y’all — he owes everything to the “grace of God.”

That’s a phrase I know well. The more Bill shared, the more respect I acquired for him, along with humility. No sympathy was asked for or wanted. He was just a man telling a story. His story.

I am grateful for this. This man is a cutter. 

Cornbread Thinks: He just wants to go to the herd.