Ranch Rodeo Saturday Night

Until last week, I’d never heard of a ranch rodeo. I’d been to plenty of regular rodeos. But what was a ranch rodeo?

A cowboy surveys the bucking stock, the horses used in the saddle bronc event. Each cowboy knows which horse he’ll ride before he mounts it. This give him time to plan his strategy. Or get damn hell nervous….

Ranch rodeo is a team event based on skills a working cowboy would need. Each team has 4 members. There’s no set list of events. They can include team penning, wild cow milking, stray gathering, sorting, doctoring, trailer loading, bronc riding or other skills.

Unlike traditional rodeos, where one horse might be used for the roping events and another horse would be used for the cutting events, in ranch rodeo, the cowboy uses the same horse for all the events.

This is a more accurate test of what a working cowboy and his mount might encounter every day. Though I haven’t encountered ranch rodeos back East in North Carolina, they are popular in the west and mid-west. This is the second ranch rodeo I’ve attended in three weeks.

Here are some photos from the rodeo I though you’d enjoy.

Listen up: after the welcome and before the singing of the “Star Spangled Banner” the announcer reads the rules to the contestants.
Warming up
Team JH Minor milking the wild cow. Hanging on to the tail of the momma cow is ranch owner Joe Minor, brother of Ed Minor who appeared in the “Lost Sea Expedition” series.
Rough stock – aka broncos. The saddle bronc riding was the highlight of the evening. Julia and I had a chance to get a closeup look at these horses. For the most part, they are big, heavy horses, many of them mares.
Bronco reckon.
The saddle bronc riding was the last event of the evening. Here, contestants getting ready to saddle their mounts. To work up the courage to ride a raging bronco takes lots of courage and, as we learned…
… just as much Coors Light, Bud Light, Keystone Light, Michelob Ultra and Busch Light.
Let ‘er rip!
The goal is to stay on 8 seconds. After that….
…someone has to catch the bucking horse. Here an outrider rides up to the bronc and loosens the bucking strap, the strap around the horse’s flank that makes it buck. That somewhat calms the bucking horse but often as not, there’s a good chase around the arena until the horse is herded in to the catch pen with the other horses.
Day’s end

Earlier in the week Julia and I had spent time sorting and doctoring cattle with Seth and Doug Adam in the Sand Hills of Nebraska. The ranch rodeo was a great chance for us to see some other cowboys skills in action.

Tuesday morning, mules Cracker, Brick and I plan to depart Hyannis, Nebraska. From here, we tackle the 150 mile ride toward Wyoming.


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