Keeping the cowboy way alive

Photos by Daniel Riley/ Kern Valley Sun
The buckaroo and high school team roping events and the peewee and buckaroo goat tying event at the rodeo

By: Daniel Riley
Special to the Sun

January 11 and 12, the Kern Valley Jr. rodeo was held in Canebrake off of Highway 178 just past Onyx at Tony and Karen Cain’s. The competitors and their guardians gathered around at 10 a.m. for the ground rules, a set of rules for both the smooth running and clean conduct, as well as proper animal and peer competitor treatment. Many events were held for the peewee, buckaroo, and high school leagues.

The first event held for the peewee league was mutton busting, a thrilling competition of who can hold on the longest riding a sheep’s back bolting across the arena. The outcomes were vast in different ability ranges. Few made it halfway across the arena, but they were in it for the long haul. As soon as the sheep and rider were released from the starting gate, the intense speed of the sheep and sheer power of it’s small and short bucks were an intimidating factor for these peewee cowgirls and cowboys.

The second event at around 10:50 a.m. included buckaroo and high school, team roping was on in the arena while the peewee competitors were on the side in dummy bull roping. Team roping can be difficult with the fact that four minds have to work alongside one another. They say two heads are better than one, but four can be an overload. First both riders must have their lasso swing in sync with their horse’s gallop or it can put their throw off kilter. The rider must also be aware of their roping partner. It is quite the spectacle seeing the team work of the riders and the trust in their horses. Following the team roping in the arena was solo roping for the buckaroo and high school leagues. This was another level of sync between rider and horse. This was once used as a technique to gather livestock in the old “wild” west, it was a means of living. It is in the soul of rider and horse who come from parts in which livestock is important on a level so necessary.

The next event included peewee, buckaroo and high school and began at 11:30 a.m. The most recognizable aspect of rodeo, the calf and bull riding. As electrifying as the mutton busting was, bull riding is more about concentration and anticipating the bull’s buck to counterbalance against the bull’s powerful bursts. Most of these junior cowboys and cowgirls had a good handle on placement on the bull’s back and grip on the bull rope. They all had the counterbalance down well, but the outcome of a fall is almost always inevitable. However, there were many hands on deck in the corral to prevent any injury including our 2020 Whiskey Flats Mayor candidate, Chester Chapman. With all of these brave souls there to protect the riders and bulls, it brought great joy to see nobody hurt, and everyone getting back up to move to the next event.

Following the bull riding event, was an event of speed, agility and dexterity. The event of goat tying held for the peewee and buckaroo leagues. The rider must ride his or her horse to a certain point and efficiently dismount in motion to reach the goat as quickly as possible, they then must flip the goat onto its back and tie its hind legs together. Standing and drawing your hand to the air is when the count begins. The count is to see if the goat is effectively tied and incapable of running. The time on the clock is stopped once the count is finished. The timing of the dismount is the most technical part. Jumping while the horse is running too fast could cause an unpleasant tumble. But not arriving with enough speed is running the clock, so finding the effective medium is key.

The last two events were races where the upmost agility and speed from the horse is needed. Barrel races and pole benders. These events were held for all three leagues. For barrel races the horse and rider must charge into a triangle of barrels and make bank turn on a dime around each barrel to then charge back to the starting area. The speed and capability with some of these horses was absolutely incredible. Pole benders were a little less on a dime. The horse and rider must ride to the other end of six poles, then run in a serpentine pattern in and out of each pole on the way back and once again forth, to then turn around and bolt to the starting line without touching the poles.

The Kern Valley Jr. Rodeo is an exciting event where young riders come to show what they’ve got and help their peers up when they fall with the best of sportsmanship. The Rodeo was sponsored as a charity by the “Chaps for Mayor 2020.” For the charity’s fundraising there were both breakfast concessions and lunch concession right next to the arena. There was a pasture on the property staked for a game of cow plop bingo, each square was $100. First prize would receive $1,500, second would receive $1,000 and third $500. A 50/50 raffle was also held, $20 per entry with a jackpot of $500. Winners will be announced at a later date. The proceeds are all put towards the Jr. Rodeo.

“Rodeo is a sport that I love because kids growing up in this know respect, for both the animals and the people involved. That is why our foundation supports this rodeo” said Chester Chapman.