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.
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.
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.”
My grandchildren competed next in the Stick Horse class (we couldn’t talk them into Mutton Busting) 🙂
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.
Willa (2 1/2) was all ready to go until they announced her name over the intercom.
The horses below were patiently waiting for their turn in the arena for calf roping.
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.