Rodeos – they start ’em young!

During the last month, I’ve had the pleasure of attending two rodeos – both of which involved young people. One was the California High School Rodeo Championships in Bishop and the other was Fish Lake Valley Rodeo in Nevada. The two rodeos were decidedly different.

Fish Lake Valley is a sparsely populated desert valley on the East side of the White Mountains a few miles past the Nevada state line. There are many alfalfa hay farms there irrigated by huge pivot lines. Cattle graze in irrigated fields. Other than that, it’s very dry with mini sand dunes beside the road where the fierce winds leave it. I saw a wild horse herd of seven or eight in the distance as I was driving there and took a longer route home to see more horses (sadly the only wild horse I saw was a foal that had been hit by a car a few weeks earlier). This road is so empty I have to think the foal must have dashed in front of a car that couldn’t stop. The grandstands at the rodeo were two sets of aluminum bleachers thankfully placed under an awning as the rodeo was scheduled for 11:30 AM and the temperatures were near 100°F (38°C). There may have been 100 fans there.

The events began with Mutton Busting. The children who were talked into riding climb on the back of a grown sheep that has not been sheared and hang on for dear life. The winner of the competition below hung on long enough for the flag to signal good ride. He flew past his dad who had stationed himself in the middle of the arena – thinking perhaps that’s where the fall would take place. The bellwether sheep was also stationed in the middle of the arena to lure the ridden sheep back to the fold. Most of the kids slowly slid off the side of the sheep long before the flag went down.

Mutton Busting Champion
Mutton Busting Champion
Barrell racing was next on the agenda.
Barrel racing was next on the agenda, she’s probably 10 or 11 years old.

Rodeo-FishLake (6 of 10)

The girl above was a teenager. There was also a girl about 7 years old on a Shetland pony led by her dad.

While strolling back to my car for a different lens, I met a former Nevada State HS Rodeo Queen. She told me her dad painted the horse trailer for her and apparently she’s been barrel racing ever since (note the yellow sign on the back), as she competed in Fish Lake Valley’s rodeo also.

Nevada State High School Rodeo Queen - 2002-2003
Nevada State High School Rodeo Queen – 2002-2003

When I asked a rider if I could take a photo of him and his son – he said “Let me hide my beer, I can get a ticket for drinking and riding.” I thought he was joshing me, but he said – “No, I’m serious – it’s against the law.”
Rodeo-FishLake (4 of 10)

My grandchildren competed next in the Stick Horse class (we couldn’t talk them into Mutton Busting)  🙂

Elias (1 of 1)

Elias (almost 6) was in first place until the last kid ran the race, knocking Elias into second place.

Ada (4) decided that riding the stick was not for her and developed a new style.

ada (1 of 1)

Willa (2 1/2) was all ready to go until they announced her name over the intercom.

Ready to go!
Ready to go! Ada and Elias are listening to them announce Willa’s name.
Nope! Not doing this! Remember Holly Hobby?
This pair roped their steer. It's often a cowgirl and cowboy team.
This pair roped their steer. It’s often a cowgirl and cowboy team.

The horses below were patiently waiting for their turn in the arena for calf roping.

Well-behaved working horses.
Well-behaved working horses.

Now we flip to the California High School Rodeo Championships. The riders from the different areas are delineated by the different colored vests they wore. A new State Rodeo Queen was crowned on the Friday night of the competition. Besides being a spokeswoman for the association, another of her duties is to ride at full gallop around the arena carrying whatever flag is needed for the moment: a US Flag, a State Flag or Sponsor Flag.

rodeoq2 (1 of 1)

A barrel racer headed home - she's barely in the saddle.
A barrel racer headed home – she’s barely in the saddle.
Pole Bending - kind of like weave poles for dog agility.
Pole Bending – kind of like weave poles for dog agility. Surprisingly, not many horses knocked the poles over (which are 21′ apart) as they wove back and forth.
They ride very fast!
They ride very fast! Love how the Palomino matches her blond hair!
They roped their calf - they must have a rope around the horns (preferably) and both back feet roped by the other rider.
They roped their calf – they have to have a rope around the horns from one rider and both back feet roped by the other rider.
Riding the Bull.
Riding the bull. Note that all three bulls are completely flying with all four feet off the ground.

Rodeo-CHSRA (2 of 2)-2

Rodeo-CHSRA (1 of 2)-2

8 Replies to “Rodeos – they start ’em young!”

  1. Both times I’ve stopped by the picture of Ada’s “new style” (Rodeo-FishLake 8 of 10 it says) doesn’t show up. I thought it might be a temporary glitch, but it’s still there…
    I love the other pictures though! The timing is great on the action shots and the kids are so cute. 🙂


      1. I had changed my mind mid post and deleted the original and forgot to re-post the new one! They make me laugh. I’m sure your new niece will be making you laugh too!


  2. Loved the pictures, especially the kids. I wouldn’t ride a sheep either. Can’t believe my littlest grandchild is going to be 12! I do miss having little ones around, but I’m enjoying the wonderful young adults they are all becoming!


    1. Yes, I miss the girls. I was going to drive down to take them to the powwow last weekend but Tori said they wouldn’t be home from camp yet. Fun watching the little ones.


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