|Professional Rodeo Entertainer and Surgical Nurse Trent McFarland “gets no respect”|
Whether he is in the surgery room or the rodeo arena, Trent McFarland of Hope Hull keeps those around him entertained.
"I’m like Rodney Dangerfield," Trent said. "I get no respect. When my cowboy buddies find out I’m a nurse, they laugh at me and, when my patients find out I’m a rodeo clown, they laugh at me. I get no respect all around."
Trent’s professions complement each other, and comedy is a medicinal tool for him. When one of his friends incurs an injury in the arena, he is the first one to come to their aid. They find comfort in his humor and capability as a nurse. Likewise, surgery patients are more likely to succumb to fits of laughter than fear with Trent by their side.
Trent works as an RN First Assistant specializing in orthopedic and neurosurgery Monday through Thursday.
"I love what I do in surgery because I can make patients laugh as they encounter what is to them one of the scariest moments of their life," Trent said. "I can kind of ease their fears, troubles and worries, and have them laughing before they go to sleep for anesthesia."
On Thursday night, he loads up his truck and 40-foot trailer, and covers lots of miles as he hauls to his first rodeo of the week.
As a professional rodeo entertainer, Trent captivates crowds with his carefully-prepared acts.
"I feel like if I can take the typical family who is struggling to pay the bills and for two hours get them to forget about all of their worries, let them kick their heels up, laugh, smile and have a good time, then it’s the greatest thing in the world," Trent said.
In January, Trent’s smile-inducing ambulance act won a world title.
At the International Professional Rodeo Association’s International Finals Rodeo in Oklahoma City, top rodeo contestants, rodeo clowns and performers with Roman-riding, trick-riding, trick-roping and whip-handling skills among various other talents, competed for the highest recognition in their events.
Featuring the antics of an inept doctor and a goofy nurse, and incorporating the use of an ambulance as a prop and special effects like explosions, Trent’s act was named the International Finals Rodeo 41 Show Case Champion Comedy Act of 2011.
Haynes Ambulance sponsored his award winning act.
Trent is also a professional barrel man. A barrel man’s purpose combines the job of a rodeo clown to entertain the crowd and the bull fighter’s job to protect the cowboy.
Trent explained the aid of his barrel, what many refer to as the cowboy’s storm safety shelter, "It’s my way of being protected from the bull while still allowing me to distract the bull and save the cowboy."
Trent described what it is like to be "the man in the can."
"It’s like going to Six Flags every performance except the rollercoaster is trying to get on the inside of the cart with me in it," Trent said.
Trent’s trick-roping and bull-handling skills also keep the crowds spellbound.
Passionate about his sport, Trent promotes rodeo and educates others about it at every possible chance and in any setting.
At various rodeo schools, Trent promotes the sport and educates aspiring rodeo entertainers. He imparts knowledge that might make their jobs safer or easier.
"Rodeo is the one sport you’ll ever find where one athlete will do anything necessary to help the other guy beat him," Trent said. "Cowboys help each other beat each other."
Trent informed his students that rodeo is a sport in which participants must be good athletes. Being a good athlete in rodeo is more than having ability or talent.
He instructed his students to exercise, acquire adequate sleep, and take care of their minds and bodies. Rodeo participants need to be able to react quickly since their activity requires being around 2,000-pound animals.
He stressed the importance of obtaining a good education to his students.
Trent encouraged the youth to listen to their parents and teachers, to do well in school, and to also stay healthy.
Education is the best way to dispel misconceptions of rodeo, Trent stated.
At rodeos, Trent takes the time to show people who have negative views of how the animals are treated that their beliefs are based on misconceptions. He also visits with the crowds after performances to show his appreciation for them and thank them for attending the rodeo.
Trent credits his ability to deliver a joke, build an act and his knowledge of the many components it takes to be a rodeo clown to a 20-year apprenticeship under his father, Sid McFarland.
"Some kids are born into a rich family," Trent said. "I got lucky and was born into a rodeo clown family."
First and foremost, his mother, a nurse, and his father, a rodeo clown, encouraged him to obtain a good education.
Trent joked he was learning how to apply makeup and be a rodeo clown traveling to rodeos with his dad at a time when his peers’ lives revolved around driving and friends.
He added that performing at rodeos with his dad kept him out of trouble and taught him a good work ethic.
"He is the one who instilled in me the values and beliefs I have," Trent explained. "You get out there and hustle, do the best you can, leave it at the arena when you’re done and know you did the best you could."
Trent considers the memories of working with his father irreplaceable. These days, the father-and-son team still performs at some shows together and, for Trent, it is a treat when they do. A chance to watch his father, who he views as an excellent teacher and a master at what he does, perform means the world to him.
After all of his years of experience, Trent still feels an insurmountable rush when he performs in the arena.
"It’s like you’re standing on a cliff about ready to jump off into the water and you’re just full of anxious energy, nervous and, all of a sudden, the gate pops open," Trent said. "You jump out there and you get ready to do your deal and all the nervousness disappears. It’s just pure adrenaline and excitement. It’s the ultimate form of entertainment."
Trent’s wife, Wendy, also has several rodeo accomplishments under her belt. Currently, she carries the American flag in rodeo openings, helps him with some of his acts and with business details.
In their comedy trick-roping act, Wendy plays the role of the professional roper extraordinaire, Tex Barker.
Tex becomes riled by the character Trent plays and storms out of the arena in a huff. Wendy’s hair which has been kept up in her cowboy hat until this point in the act cascades down her back as she exits.
Her dramatic exit always leaves rodeo crowds stunned.
Trent described how Wendy supported him while he recovered from a shattered left femur and a broken and dislocated left elbow, injuries he incurred in an accident in August.
"I have a great, amazing wife and I cannot sing her praises enough," he said. "If it wasn’t for her, I don’t know how I would’ve made it for the next two months (after the accident). God bless her. She is the main part of why I get to do what I do while I’m out on the road. She’s the backbone of the operation."
Last year, Wendy started learning the art of trick riding. She is in the process of building a trick-riding act for future shows.
"We always have a good time, and we love the rodeo family and all of the contacts we have made on the road," Wendy said.
For a glimpse of talent that will leave you with a smile, visit www.trentmcfarland.com and learn more about Trent’s acts, upcoming performances, venues and other accomplishments.
Jade Currid is an intern with AFC Cooperative Farming News.