Bull Rider "Tuff" Hedeman soars above 2011 Cheyenne Frontier Days | TheFencePost.com

Bull Rider "Tuff" Hedeman soars above 2011 Cheyenne Frontier Days

The Thunderbirds, the flight demonstration team and “Ambassadors in Blue” for the United States Air Force, have had a long relationship with Cheyenne Frontier Days. The Thunderbirds first public performance was at the “Daddy of ’em All” in 1953, and the team has delighted fans at Frontier Days every year since. Since the kick-off flight at CFD, the Thunderbirds have performed in all 50 states and 65 countries overseas. “The mission of the Thunderbirds is to go out and represent the awesome airmen of the United States Air Force,” said Captain Nicholas Holmes who flies plane No. 4 in the ‘Slot’ position, “We go out and show the pride, precision, and professionalism, of the United States Air Force both on the ground and in the air.” The Thunderbird demonstration is at Laramie County Community College (LCCC). It is a great venue as LCCC sits on elevated ground which gives an unobstructed view of the planes that are flying over ranch land. The media photographers are on top of a three story building and the planes fly so low that it seems as if you are on the same level as they are. To start the show, the six plane formation arrives from behind the crowd. They fly at a low altitude and pull straight up over the crowd. As the air is suddenly filled with planes, the sound catches up and with that, the sound and action of the United States Thunderbirds show is underway. The Thunderbirds were once again scheduled to fly at Cheyenne Frontier Days in 2011. When they discovered that bull riding legend “Tuff” Hedeman would be bringing his new organization, Championship Bull Riding (CBR), to the Frontier Days night show, the Thunderbirds decided that Hedeman was an obvious fit for a coveted, VIP flight with the Thunderbirds. Like the Thunderbirds, Richard “Tuff” Hedeman has had a long relationship with Cheyenne Frontier Days. He was a competitor at Cheyenne during 1983-1997. He won the Frontier Days All Around buckle in 1988 and was the Frontier Days Bull Riding Champion for two consecutive years in 1995 and 1996. “Tuff” is very proud of the fact that he won the 1996 championship buckle, which was the 100th anniversary of Cheyenne Frontier Days. Both “Tuff” Hedeman and the Thunderbirds have been inducted into the Cheyenne Frontier Days Hall of Fame. Captain Nicholas Holmes, who is from Denver, Colo., and his grandparents have lived in Cheyenne, Wyo., for 90 years, said, “Having been to the ‘Daddy of ’em All’ so many times and seeing so many different rodeos and bull riding, it’s truly an honor, not only for me, I know several of the other team members are extremely excited to meet ‘Tuff.’ I hope that he enjoys his flight and he gets to see what we do every day representing the Air Force.” A VIP flight in one of the red, white and blue F-16’s is a lot more than just climbing in the back seat and roaring down the runway into the ‘wild blue yonder.’ The VIP passenger is given an orientation that can take three to five hours. Besides a physical exam to insure his body could endure the stress and strain of in-flight G-forces, Hedeman was given instruction by the Flight Surgeon Capt. Thomas Bowden, on things that he was to do to keep from ‘blacking out’ during the high-speed loops and turns in the specially prepared F-16. “Tuff” was also fitted for his G-suit and helmet by TSgt Sang Lee, Aircrew Flight Equipment Specialist, and great care was devoted to instruction about where all the oxygen and communication connections were. Hedeman’s pilot, Lt Col Jason Koltes, Operations Officer, went over in great detail, emergency communication, instructions on ejection procedures, and the all important use of the ‘barf bag.’ Lt Col Koltes, call sign ‘Buzzer,’ was the pilot of plane No. 7 which is the only F-16D plane with the dual in-line seat configuration. The pilot also gave Hedeman an overview of the maneuvers, such as loops and knife-edge flying, that they would be doing during the hour long flight. Lt Col Koltes also verbally explained some of the physical sensations that “Tuff” would be experiencing. By this time “Tuff” was more than ready to climb onto this rocket powered ‘bull’ and go for the ride of his life. ” I am more excited about this than just about anything I have done in my life and I am honored to have the opportunity to fly with the most outstanding pilots in the world.” said “Tuff.” The time for the walk to the flight line and plane No. 7 arrived and it was here that Hedeman discovered the ultimate tribute – his name had been painted on the canopy next to the number two seat of a U.S. Air Force Thunderbird plane. SSgt Raymond LeBlanc, Crew Chief of plane No. 2, helped Hedeman with his G-Suit, then it was into the plane where SSgt Jake Spiller, Crew Chief of plane No. 3, made the hook-ups of oxygen and communications. The canopy came down, the engine spooled up, and the plane began to roll. After all of that, it was finally time for pilot “Buzzer” Koltes to take “Tuff” Hedeman on that flight into the ‘wild blue yonder.’ The Thunderbirds, the flight demonstration team and “Ambassadors in Blue” for the United States Air Force, have had a long relationship with Cheyenne Frontier Days. The Thunderbirds first public performance was at the “Daddy of ’em All” in 1953, and the team has delighted fans at Frontier Days every year since. Since the kick-off flight at CFD, the Thunderbirds have performed in all 50 states and 65 countries overseas. “The mission of the Thunderbirds is to go out and represent the awesome airmen of the United States Air Force,” said Captain Nicholas Holmes who flies plane No. 4 in the ‘Slot’ position, “We go out and show the pride, precision, and professionalism, of the United States Air Force both on the ground and in the air.” The Thunderbird demonstration is at Laramie County Community College (LCCC). It is a great venue as LCCC sits on elevated ground which gives an unobstructed view of the planes that are flying over ranch land. The media photographers are on top of a three story building and the planes fly so low that it seems as if you are on the same level as they are. To start the show, the six plane formation arrives from behind the crowd. They fly at a low altitude and pull straight up over the crowd. As the air is suddenly filled with planes, the sound catches up and with that, the sound and action of the United States Thunderbirds show is underway. The Thunderbirds were once again scheduled to fly at Cheyenne Frontier Days in 2011. When they discovered that bull riding legend “Tuff” Hedeman would be bringing his new organization, Championship Bull Riding (CBR), to the Frontier Days night show, the Thunderbirds decided that Hedeman was an obvious fit for a coveted, VIP flight with the Thunderbirds. Like the Thunderbirds, Richard “Tuff” Hedeman has had a long relationship with Cheyenne Frontier Days. He was a competitor at Cheyenne during 1983-1997. He won the Frontier Days All Around buckle in 1988 and was the Frontier Days Bull Riding Champion for two consecutive years in 1995 and 1996. “Tuff” is very proud of the fact that he won the 1996 championship buckle, which was the 100th anniversary of Cheyenne Frontier Days. Both “Tuff” Hedeman and the Thunderbirds have been inducted into the Cheyenne Frontier Days Hall of Fame. Captain Nicholas Holmes, who is from Denver, Colo., and his grandparents have lived in Cheyenne, Wyo., for 90 years, said, “Having been to the ‘Daddy of ’em All’ so many times and seeing so many different rodeos and bull riding, it’s truly an honor, not only for me, I know several of the other team members are extremely excited to meet ‘Tuff.’ I hope that he enjoys his flight and he gets to see what we do every day representing the Air Force.” A VIP flight in one of the red, white and blue F-16’s is a lot more than just climbing in the back seat and roaring down the runway into the ‘wild blue yonder.’ The VIP passenger is given an orientation that can take three to five hours. Besides a physical exam to insure his body could endure the stress and strain of in-flight G-forces, Hedeman was given instruction by the Flight Surgeon Capt. Thomas Bowden, on things that he was to do to keep from ‘blacking out’ during the high-speed loops and turns in the specially prepared F-16. “Tuff” was also fitted for his G-suit and helmet by TSgt Sang Lee, Aircrew Flight Equipment Specialist, and great care was devoted to instruction about where all the oxygen and communication connections were. Hedeman’s pilot, Lt Col Jason Koltes, Operations Officer, went over in great detail, emergency communication, instructions on ejection procedures, and the all important use of the ‘barf bag.’ Lt Col Koltes, call sign ‘Buzzer,’ was the pilot of plane No. 7 which is the only F-16D plane with the dual in-line seat configuration. The pilot also gave Hedeman an overview of the maneuvers, such as loops and knife-edge flying, that they would be doing during the hour long flight. Lt Col Koltes also verbally explained some of the physical sensations that “Tuff” would be experiencing. By this time “Tuff” was more than ready to climb onto this rocket powered ‘bull’ and go for the ride of his life. ” I am more excited about this than just about anything I have done in my life and I am honored to have the opportunity to fly with the most outstanding pilots in the world.” said “Tuff.” The time for the walk to the flight line and plane No. 7 arrived and it was here that Hedeman discovered the ultimate tribute – his name had been painted on the canopy next to the number two seat of a U.S. Air Force Thunderbird plane. SSgt Raymond LeBlanc, Crew Chief of plane No. 2, helped Hedeman with his G-Suit, then it was into the plane where SSgt Jake Spiller, Crew Chief of plane No. 3, made the hook-ups of oxygen and communications. The canopy came down, the engine spooled up, and the plane began to roll. After all of that, it was finally time for pilot “Buzzer” Koltes to take “Tuff” Hedeman on that flight into the ‘wild blue yonder.’ The Thunderbirds, the flight demonstration team and “Ambassadors in Blue” for the United States Air Force, have had a long relationship with Cheyenne Frontier Days. The Thunderbirds first public performance was at the “Daddy of ’em All” in 1953, and the team has delighted fans at Frontier Days every year since. Since the kick-off flight at CFD, the Thunderbirds have performed in all 50 states and 65 countries overseas. “The mission of the Thunderbirds is to go out and represent the awesome airmen of the United States Air Force,” said Captain Nicholas Holmes who flies plane No. 4 in the ‘Slot’ position, “We go out and show the pride, precision, and professionalism, of the United States Air Force both on the ground and in the air.” The Thunderbird demonstration is at Laramie County Community College (LCCC). It is a great venue as LCCC sits on elevated ground which gives an unobstructed view of the planes that are flying over ranch land. The media photographers are on top of a three story building and the planes fly so low that it seems as if you are on the same level as they are. To start the show, the six plane formation arrives from behind the crowd. They fly at a low altitude and pull straight up over the crowd. As the air is suddenly filled with planes, the sound catches up and with that, the sound and action of the United States Thunderbirds show is underway. The Thunderbirds were once again scheduled to fly at Cheyenne Frontier Days in 2011. When they discovered that bull riding legend “Tuff” Hedeman would be bringing his new organization, Championship Bull Riding (CBR), to the Frontier Days night show, the Thunderbirds decided that Hedeman was an obvious fit for a coveted, VIP flight with the Thunderbirds. Like the Thunderbirds, Richard “Tuff” Hedeman has had a long relationship with Cheyenne Frontier Days. He was a competitor at Cheyenne during 1983-1997. He won the Frontier Days All Around buckle in 1988 and was the Frontier Days Bull Riding Champion for two consecutive years in 1995 and 1996. “Tuff” is very proud of the fact that he won the 1996 championship buckle, which was the 100th anniversary of Cheyenne Frontier Days. Both “Tuff” Hedeman and the Thunderbirds have been inducted into the Cheyenne Frontier Days Hall of Fame. Captain Nicholas Holmes, who is from Denver, Colo., and his grandparents have lived in Cheyenne, Wyo., for 90 years, said, “Having been to the ‘Daddy of ’em All’ so many times and seeing so many different rodeos and bull riding, it’s truly an honor, not only for me, I know several of the other team members are extremely excited to meet ‘Tuff.’ I hope that he enjoys his flight and he gets to see what we do every day representing the Air Force.” A VIP flight in one of the red, white and blue F-16’s is a lot more than just climbing in the back seat and roaring down the runway into the ‘wild blue yonder.’ The VIP passenger is given an orientation that can take three to five hours. Besides a physical exam to insure his body could endure the stress and strain of in-flight G-forces, Hedeman was given instruction by the Flight Surgeon Capt. Thomas Bowden, on things that he was to do to keep from ‘blacking out’ during the high-speed loops and turns in the specially prepared F-16. “Tuff” was also fitted for his G-suit and helmet by TSgt Sang Lee, Aircrew Flight Equipment Specialist, and great care was devoted to instruction about where all the oxygen and communication connections were. Hedeman’s pilot, Lt Col Jason Koltes, Operations Officer, went over in great detail, emergency communication, instructions on ejection procedures, and the all important use of the ‘barf bag.’ Lt Col Koltes, call sign ‘Buzzer,’ was the pilot of plane No. 7 which is the only F-16D plane with the dual in-line seat configuration. The pilot also gave Hedeman an overview of the maneuvers, such as loops and knife-edge flying, that they would be doing during the hour long flight. Lt Col Koltes also verbally explained some of the physical sensations that “Tuff” would be experiencing. By this time “Tuff” was more than ready to climb onto this rocket powered ‘bull’ and go for the ride of his life. ” I am more excited about this than just about anything I have done in my life and I am honored to have the opportunity to fly with the most outstanding pilots in the world.” said “Tuff.” The time for the walk to the flight line and plane No. 7 arrived and it was here that Hedeman discovered the ultimate tribute – his name had been painted on the canopy next to the number two seat of a U.S. Air Force Thunderbird plane. SSgt Raymond LeBlanc, Crew Chief of plane No. 2, helped Hedeman with his G-Suit, then it was into the plane where SSgt Jake Spiller, Crew Chief of plane No. 3, made the hook-ups of oxygen and communications. The canopy came down, the engine spooled up, and the plane began to roll. After all of that, it was finally time for pilot “Buzzer” Koltes to take “Tuff” Hedeman on that flight into the ‘wild blue yonder.’

Lots to be learned at Cheyenne Frontier Days

At the 110th “Daddy of ’em All,” people flocked from all over the country and even the world to experience the biggest celebration of the western way of life. License plates from New York, Alaska, and many of the 50 states were spotted in the parking lot. Some tourists from Europe just happened to “stumble upon” Frontier Days in their travels, while one couple from Finland said they had specifically returned to the States in July to relive Frontier Days again! No matter the reason for arriving or the distance travelled, this year Frontier Days held a little surprise for anyone who looked. Down every street, around every corner, there were new tidbits of information waiting to be learned. The local blacksmith held his wealth of information about times gone by. The Indian village taught visitors about traditions and their origins. Even the challenge rodeo had a few lessons to teach. So get comfortable while I impart some of what I learned at Cheyenne Frontier Days. It starts out like a bad joke … a huge group of people standing around, all looking up. You think as soon as you look up, they are going to say “Made you look!” … that is until you hear the six F-16s scream over your head. The United States Air Force Thunderbirds have been performing for the public for over 50 years. They have performed in all 50 states and over 60 countries for over 315 million people. Throughout their 50-plus years of performing, the Thunderbirds have used five different planes to perform with. Their current plane, the F-16, has been their acrobatic aircraft of choice for over 20 years. The Thunderbirds squadron consists of a team of eight pilots (six are demonstration pilots), four officers, 120 active-duty Air National Guard and enlisted people, and four civilians. Each year about one-third of the squadron is replaced with new people, so there is always a mix of experience. The USAF Thunderbirds perform from March to November. The squadron uses the winter months to train new pilots to do the over 40 aerial maneuvers they perform at each show. This year’s show had many new maneuvers like the slow controlled “drag,” performed by one plane, or the sky-iris performed by five of the six planes. With the use of their afterburners, the Thunderbirds also made several circles around the sun. The Thunderbirds perform on “Cheyenne Day” every year during Frontier Days. If you missed them this year, be sure to make it to Laramie County Community College next year for the show! You may even be lucky enough to watch new cadets take their oath into the squadron like we did! Meanwhile, back at Frontier Park, there was an entire Wild Horse Gulch waiting to be explored. Plumes of black smoke were appearing in front of a crowd at the blacksmith’s storefront. While he worked his iron, the blacksmith told the crowd how integral a blacksmith was on the Western frontier. The blacksmith was the center of town in the Old West. He made tools to shape horse’s teeth, so his customers naturally came to him to make smaller versions for people ” so he was also the town dentist. Blacksmiths were some of the few folks who could read, and they always had a Bible, so blacksmiths also acted as the town’s preacher. It was a horse-driven society, and the blacksmith worked on the horses’ feet. Naturally the mail would come in through the blacksmith’s shop, so he was also the postmaster. Being preacher, postmaster, dentist, and blacksmith, he knew everyone in the town, so another natural progression was for the blacksmith to also be the mayor. When the blacksmith pulled up stakes and moved, the town followed him. He was the hub of a town’s economy and without the blacksmith, there was no town. As time wore on, the iron industry became no less important. In fact, in the early 1900s the largest employer in this country was U.S. Steel. “Today,” said the blacksmith, “the largest employers are Wal-Mart and McDonalds. What are we producing as a country?” The blacksmith also pointed out how we have moved away from using cast iron pots and pans. “If nothing sticks to Teflon, how do you get Teflon to stick to the frying pan?” he asked. It’s a heating process that binds it, but every time you cook it can unbind it and the Teflon comes off in your food. He equated our use of Teflon with the Romans overuse of lead. The lead use turned out to be poisonous, and he wondered if Teflon wouldn’t prove to be the same in the years to come. Cast iron pots and pans, “like grandma used to use” give off trace amounts of iron into the diet. Iron is a mineral we need to avoid being anemic, and cooking with iron provides it … yet another way blacksmithing is still involved in our lives today. “It’s all over your language too,” said the blacksmith. The expressions “forging ahead,” and “too many irons in the fire” originate from blacksmithing. The gavel taps at the beginning and end of a town meeting, for example, also originate from a blacksmith pounding the anvil. It was how he communicated with his apprentice in such a loud environment. As in the Old West, this blacksmith was a wealth of knowledge (with a bit of preaching mixed in). He did a great job of educating his audience while fashioning his tools right before their eyes. And he never missed a beat! Plenty of beats, music, and rich history could also be found in the Indian Village. Flutists, storytellers and the Wind River Dancers all help to keep the ancient traditions of the American Indian alive. Often times I have found myself too mesmerized by the colorful costumes and swirling movements to really discover what the dances were about, but this year I made a concerted effort. The costumes are very symbolic in the dances performed. At the 110th “Daddy of ’em All,” people flocked from all over the country and even the world to experience the biggest celebration of the western way of life. License plates from New York, Alaska, and many of the 50 states were spotted in the parking lot. Some tourists from Europe just happened to “stumble upon” Frontier Days in their travels, while one couple from Finland said they had specifically returned to the States in July to relive Frontier Days again! No matter the reason for arriving or the distance travelled, this year Frontier Days held a little surprise for anyone who looked. Down every street, around every corner, there were new tidbits of information waiting to be learned. The local blacksmith held his wealth of information about times gone by. The Indian village taught visitors about traditions and their origins. Even the challenge rodeo had a few lessons to teach. So get comfortable while I impart some of what I learned at Cheyenne Frontier Days. It starts out like a bad joke … a huge group of people standing around, all looking up. You think as soon as you look up, they are going to say “Made you look!” … that is until you hear the six F-16s scream over your head. The United States Air Force Thunderbirds have been performing for the public for over 50 years. They have performed in all 50 states and over 60 countries for over 315 million people. Throughout their 50-plus years of performing, the Thunderbirds have used five different planes to perform with. Their current plane, the F-16, has been their acrobatic aircraft of choice for over 20 years. The Thunderbirds squadron consists of a team of eight pilots (six are demonstration pilots), four officers, 120 active-duty Air National Guard and enlisted people, and four civilians. Each year about one-third of the squadron is replaced with new people, so there is always a mix of experience. The USAF Thunderbirds perform from March to November. The squadron uses the winter months to train new pilots to do the over 40 aerial maneuvers they perform at each show. This year’s show had many new maneuvers like the slow controlled “drag,” performed by one plane, or the sky-iris performed by five of the six planes. With the use of their afterburners, the Thunderbirds also made several circles around the sun. The Thunderbirds perform on “Cheyenne Day” every year during Frontier Days. If you missed them this year, be sure to make it to Laramie County Community College next year for the show! You may even be lucky enough to watch new cadets take their oath into the squadron like we did! Meanwhile, back at Frontier Park, there was an entire Wild Horse Gulch waiting to be explored. Plumes of black smoke were appearing in front of a crowd at the blacksmith’s storefront. While he worked his iron, the blacksmith told the crowd how integral a blacksmith was on the Western frontier. The blacksmith was the center of town in the Old West. He made tools to shape horse’s teeth, so his customers naturally came to him to make smaller versions for people ” so he was also the town dentist. Blacksmiths were some of the few folks who could read, and they always had a Bible, so blacksmiths also acted as the town’s preacher. It was a horse-driven society, and the blacksmith worked on the horses’ feet. Naturally the mail would come in through the blacksmith’s shop, so he was also the postmaster. Being preacher, postmaster, dentist, and blacksmith, he knew everyone in the town, so another natural progression was for the blacksmith to also be the mayor. When the blacksmith pulled up stakes and moved, the town followed him. He was the hub of a town’s economy and without the blacksmith, there was no town. As time wore on, the iron industry became no less important. In fact, in the early 1900s the largest employer in this country was U.S. Steel. “Today,” said the blacksmith, “the largest employers are Wal-Mart and McDonalds. What are we producing as a country?” The blacksmith also pointed out how we have moved away from using cast iron pots and pans. “If nothing sticks to Teflon, how do you get Teflon to stick to the frying pan?” he asked. It’s a heating process that binds it, but every time you cook it can unbind it and the Teflon comes off in your food. He equated our use of Teflon with the Romans overuse of lead. The lead use turned out to be poisonous, and he wondered if Teflon wouldn’t prove to be the same in the years to come. Cast iron pots and pans, “like grandma used to use” give off trace amounts of iron into the diet. Iron is a mineral we need to avoid being anemic, and cooking with iron provides it … yet another way blacksmithing is still involved in our lives today. “It’s all over your language too,” said the blacksmith. The expressions “forging ahead,” and “too many irons in the fire” originate from blacksmithing. The gavel taps at the beginning and end of a town meeting, for example, also originate from a blacksmith pounding the anvil. It was how he communicated with his apprentice in such a loud environment. As in the Old West, this blacksmith was a wealth of knowledge (with a bit of preaching mixed in). He did a great job of educating his audience while fashioning his tools right before their eyes. And he never missed a beat! Plenty of beats, music, and rich history could also be found in the Indian Village. Flutists, storytellers and the Wind River Dancers all help to keep the ancient traditions of the American Indian alive. Often times I have found myself too mesmerized by the colorful costumes and swirling movements to really discover what the dances were about, but this year I made a concerted effort. The costumes are very symbolic in the dances performed. At the 110th “Daddy of ’em All,” people flocked from all over the country and even the world to experience the biggest celebration of the western way of life. License plates from New York, Alaska, and many of the 50 states were spotted in the parking lot. Some tourists from Europe just happened to “stumble upon” Frontier Days in their travels, while one couple from Finland said they had specifically returned to the States in July to relive Frontier Days again! No matter the reason for arriving or the distance travelled, this year Frontier Days held a little surprise for anyone who looked. Down every street, around every corner, there were new tidbits of information waiting to be learned. The local blacksmith held his wealth of information about times gone by. The Indian village taught visitors about traditions and their origins. Even the challenge rodeo had a few lessons to teach. So get comfortable while I impart some of what I learned at Cheyenne Frontier Days. It starts out like a bad joke … a huge group of people standing around, all looking up. You think as soon as you look up, they are going to say “Made you look!” … that is until you hear the six F-16s scream over your head. The United States Air Force Thunderbirds have been performing for the public for over 50 years. They have performed in all 50 states and over 60 countries for over 315 million people. Throughout their 50-plus years of performing, the Thunderbirds have used five different planes to perform with. Their current plane, the F-16, has been their acrobatic aircraft of choice for over 20 years. The Thunderbirds squadron consists of a team of eight pilots (six are demonstration pilots), four officers, 120 active-duty Air National Guard and enlisted people, and four civilians. Each year about one-third of the squadron is replaced with new people, so there is always a mix of experience. The USAF Thunderbirds perform from March to November. The squadron uses the winter months to train new pilots to do the over 40 aerial maneuvers they perform at each show. This year’s show had many new maneuvers like the slow controlled “drag,” performed by one plane, or the sky-iris performed by five of the six planes. With the use of their afterburners, the Thunderbirds also made several circles around the sun. The Thunderbirds perform on “Cheyenne Day” every year during Frontier Days. If you missed them this year, be sure to make it to Laramie County Community College next year for the show! You may even be lucky enough to watch new cadets take their oath into the squadron like we did! Meanwhile, back at Frontier Park, there was an entire Wild Horse Gulch waiting to be explored. Plumes of black smoke were appearing in front of a crowd at the blacksmith’s storefront. While he worked his iron, the blacksmith told the crowd how integral a blacksmith was on the Western frontier. The blacksmith was the center of town in the Old West. He made tools to shape horse’s teeth, so his customers naturally came to him to make smaller versions for people ” so he was also the town dentist. Blacksmiths were some of the few folks who could read, and they always had a Bible, so blacksmiths also acted as the town’s preacher. It was a horse-driven society, and the blacksmith worked on the horses’ feet. Naturally the mail would come in through the blacksmith’s shop, so he was also the postmaster. Being preacher, postmaster, dentist, and blacksmith, he knew everyone in the town, so another natural progression was for the blacksmith to also be the mayor. When the blacksmith pulled up stakes and moved, the town followed him. He was the hub of a town’s economy and without the blacksmith, there was no town. As time wore on, the iron industry became no less important. In fact, in the early 1900s the largest employer in this country was U.S. Steel. “Today,” said the blacksmith, “the largest employers are Wal-Mart and McDonalds. What are we producing as a country?” The blacksmith also pointed out how we have moved away from using cast iron pots and pans. “If nothing sticks to Teflon, how do you get Teflon to stick to the frying pan?” he asked. It’s a heating process that binds it, but every time you cook it can unbind it and the Teflon comes off in your food. He equated our use of Teflon with the Romans overuse of lead. The lead use turned out to be poisonous, and he wondered if Teflon wouldn’t prove to be the same in the years to come. Cast iron pots and pans, “like grandma used to use” give off trace amounts of iron into the diet. Iron is a mineral we need to avoid being anemic, and cooking with iron provides it … yet another way blacksmithing is still involved in our lives today. “It’s all over your language too,” said the blacksmith. The expressions “forging ahead,” and “too many irons in the fire” originate from blacksmithing. The gavel taps at the beginning and end of a town meeting, for example, also originate from a blacksmith pounding the anvil. It was how he communicated with his apprentice in such a loud environment. As in the Old West, this blacksmith was a wealth of knowledge (with a bit of preaching mixed in). He did a great job of educating his audience while fashioning his tools right before their eyes. And he never missed a beat! Plenty of beats, music, and rich history could also be found in the Indian Village. Flutists, storytellers and the Wind River Dancers all help to keep the ancient traditions of the American Indian alive. Often times I have found myself too mesmerized by the colorful costumes and swirling movements to really discover what the dances were about, but this year I made a concerted effort. The costumes are very symbolic in the dances performed. At the 110th “Daddy of ’em All,” people flocked from all over the country and even the world to experience the biggest celebration of the western way of life. License plates from New York, Alaska, and many of the 50 states were spotted in the parking lot. Some tourists from Europe just happened to “stumble upon” Frontier Days in their travels, while one couple from Finland said they had specifically returned to the States in July to relive Frontier Days again! No matter the reason for arriving or the distance travelled, this year Frontier Days held a little surprise for anyone who looked. Down every street, around every corner, there were new tidbits of information waiting to be learned. The local blacksmith held his wealth of information about times gone by. The Indian village taught visitors about traditions and their origins. Even the challenge rodeo had a few lessons to teach. So get comfortable while I impart some of what I learned at Cheyenne Frontier Days. It starts out like a bad joke … a huge group of people standing around, all looking up. You think as soon as you look up, they are going to say “Made you look!” … that is until you hear the six F-16s scream over your head. The United States Air Force Thunderbirds have been performing for the public for over 50 years. They have performed in all 50 states and over 60 countries for over 315 million people. Throughout their 50-plus years of performing, the Thunderbirds have used five different planes to perform with. Their current plane, the F-16, has been their acrobatic aircraft of choice for over 20 years. The Thunderbirds squadron consists of a team of eight pilots (six are demonstration pilots), four officers, 120 active-duty Air National Guard and enlisted people, and four civilians. Each year about one-third of the squadron is replaced with new people, so there is always a mix of experience. The USAF Thunderbirds perform from March to November. The squadron uses the winter months to train new pilots to do the over 40 aerial maneuvers they perform at each show. This year’s show had many new maneuvers like the slow controlled “drag,” performed by one plane, or the sky-iris performed by five of the six planes. With the use of their afterburners, the Thunderbirds also made several circles around the sun. The Thunderbirds perform on “Cheyenne Day” every year during Frontier Days. If you missed them this year, be sure to make it to Laramie County Community College next year for the show! You may even be lucky enough to watch new cadets take their oath into the squadron like we did! Meanwhile, back at Frontier Park, there was an entire Wild Horse Gulch waiting to be explored. Plumes of black smoke were appearing in front of a crowd at the blacksmith’s storefront. While he worked his iron, the blacksmith told the crowd how integral a blacksmith was on the Western frontier. The blacksmith was the center of town in the Old West. He made tools to shape horse’s teeth, so his customers naturally came to him to make smaller versions for people ” so he was also the town dentist. Blacksmiths were some of the few folks who could read, and they always had a Bible, so blacksmiths also acted as the town’s preacher. It was a horse-driven society, and the blacksmith worked on the horses’ feet. Naturally the mail would come in through the blacksmith’s shop, so he was also the postmaster. Being preacher, postmaster, dentist, and blacksmith, he knew everyone in the town, so another natural progression was for the blacksmith to also be the mayor. When the blacksmith pulled up stakes and moved, the town followed him. He was the hub of a town’s economy and without the blacksmith, there was no town. As time wore on, the iron industry became no less important. In fact, in the early 1900s the largest employer in this country was U.S. Steel. “Today,” said the blacksmith, “the largest employers are Wal-Mart and McDonalds. What are we producing as a country?” The blacksmith also pointed out how we have moved away from using cast iron pots and pans. “If nothing sticks to Teflon, how do you get Teflon to stick to the frying pan?” he asked. It’s a heating process that binds it, but every time you cook it can unbind it and the Teflon comes off in your food. He equated our use of Teflon with the Romans overuse of lead. The lead use turned out to be poisonous, and he wondered if Teflon wouldn’t prove to be the same in the years to come. Cast iron pots and pans, “like grandma used to use” give off trace amounts of iron into the diet. Iron is a mineral we need to avoid being anemic, and cooking with iron provides it … yet another way blacksmithing is still involved in our lives today. “It’s all over your language too,” said the blacksmith. The expressions “forging ahead,” and “too many irons in the fire” originate from blacksmithing. The gavel taps at the beginning and end of a town meeting, for example, also originate from a blacksmith pounding the anvil. It was how he communicated with his apprentice in such a loud environment. As in the Old West, this blacksmith was a wealth of knowledge (with a bit of preaching mixed in). He did a great job of educating his audience while fashioning his tools right before their eyes. And he never missed a beat! Plenty of beats, music, and rich history could also be found in the Indian Village. Flutists, storytellers and the Wind River Dancers all help to keep the ancient traditions of the American Indian alive. Often times I have found myself too mesmerized by the colorful costumes and swirling movements to really discover what the dances were about, but this year I made a concerted effort. The costumes are very symbolic in the dances performed.

116th Cheyenne Frontiers Days

Cheyenne Frontier Days is more than just the world's largest outdoor rodeo. It's a chance for people to come together and celebrate their western heritage. The rodeo celebrates its 116th year this year, and spectators can take part in a multitude of events. This year CFD will be held from July 20-29. The "Daddy of 'Em All" will showcase bulls and broncs, cowboys and concerts, and parades and pancakes. The 10-day celebration is fun for the whole family, and an event that shouldn't be missed. "A hundred and sixteen years ago when they came up with the idea, it was to get people from Denver to come to Cheyenne to spend money. They had a bad winter and the herds were devastated and this event helped to revitalize them. It still brings economic development to our community, and helps build our economy," said Rod Hottle, General Chairman for CFD. More than 2,500 volunteers work to put on CFD every year. The first of nine rodeos begins July 21, and will run every day throughout the event starting at 12:45 p.m. The 1,500 contestants will compete for more than $1 million in prizes, as well as bragging rights for winning one of the world's oldest rodeos. "We put on the rodeo and support the sport of rodeo," he said. For fans wanting more rodeo, Championship Bull Riding will be held on July 23 and 24. The "Road to Cheyenne" tour finishes at CFD, and the World Champion will be crowned. Both nights the event will begin at 8 p.m. Frontier Nights is also another main attraction, as country and rock artists perform in the area. This year's featured entertainers include: Zac Brown Band, Brad Paisley with The Band Perry, Merle Haggard, Reba McEntire, Journey, Hank Williams, Jr. and Blake Shelton. "I like the rodeo but we have great night shows. We've been very successful bringing in great acts. The whole event is super, and my recommendation is to try to attend as much as you can. We have something for everyone," said Hottle. The Grand Parade will take place on July 21, as well as on July 24 and 28th. The parade will feature western heritage and horse-drawn vehicles. "We have one of the largest carriage collections, and the emphasis on the parade is those carriages and a number of other things in the western setting. We try to preserve our way of life and show other people who come that way of life too and the culture," said Hottle. A free pancake breakfast will be served from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. on July 23, July 25 and July 27 at Depot Plaza at the heart of Cheyenne. Each year, CFD serves about 100,000 flapjacks, 3,000 pounds of ham, 9,200 cartons of milk, and 520 gallons of coffee, along with 630 pounds of butter and 475 gallons of syrup. Started in 1952 by the Kiwanis Club, they now serve more than 30,000 locals and visitors yearly. Frontier Park also includes the Indian Village cultural area. In addition to hosting authentic American Indian dancing, music playing and storytelling, the Indian Village also includes a number of Native American exhibit booths and food vendors. Other attractions include the carnival/midway area, the chuck wagon cook-off, CFD Old West Museum, Buckin-A Saloon and the Wild Horse Gulch Western Heritage Area. "This year in the Wild Horse Gulch we did a number of improvements. We have a barn in the petting zoo, new restaurants, a peewee stampede rodeo and more spots for food vendors and a chuck wagon," said Hottle. He continued, "We also had a carnival expansion. Its bigger and better this year. We also put in new bucking chutes and made electrical upgrades. We put $1.5 million back into the part this year." For those that want more information about how the rodeo is run, a free Behind the Chutes tour will be held daily at 10 a.m., 11 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. in front of the CFD Old West Museum. On July 25, the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds will put on a aerial show in front of Laramie County Community College. The Wyoming Air National Guard static display/air show will not be held this year. Another place to visit is the CFD Amphitheater at Volunteer Square, located just west of the Main Gate. It is open to public from 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. during the event. The area also features a variety of free acts from 11:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. throughout CFD. ❖

113th Cheyenne Frontier Days kicks off with annual cattle drive

With the first of 500 Corriente steers cresting the hill north of Cheyenne, Wyo., the 113th Cheyenne Frontier Days was officially underway. In this annual event, Committee Chairmen, Dandies, wranglers, volunteers, guests, and family gather for a chuck wagon breakfast and some socializing before driving the cattle to the rodeo pens at Frontier Park. When everyone has had their fill of a hearty breakfast of sausage, eggs, and biscuits and gravy, all cooked to perfection in Dutch Ovens, the real work of moving the timed event steers to Frontier Park begins. The guests and media load onto the vintage wagons that will lead the procession along the I-25 frontage Road from Horse Creek Road to Central Avenue. The herd turns right off of Central just past the golf course and continues into the back entrance to Frontier Park. This annual event is always enjoyed by the many onlookers that line the roads along the route. Traffic along the route is controlled by the Cheyenne police and the Wyoming Highway Patrol keeps traffic moving along I-25. It is always interesting to see that the cars from Colorado and Wyoming hardly slow down, while the cars bearing plates from eastern states slow to almost a crawl. The windows open, the kids shout, and cameras are thrust through the window to record an image of the ‘wild west’ to show to folks back at home. Working with large groups of animals is always an adventure waiting to happen. Last year the steers ran all the way to the park. This year the herd took a more leisurely pace and the cattle were easily distracted by the lush green grass along I-25 that bountiful spring rains had produced. The herd was pretty stubborn and when it stopped, the wranglers had a real job on their hands to get them moving again. Most of the people on horse back were ceremonial and the real cowboys had their hands full getting and keeping the herd moving in the right direction. The Dandies, the Cheyenne Frontier Days precision mounted group, served as out-riders to keep the herd from crossing onto I-25. A rodeo as large as Cheyenne Frontier Days can not function without a huge crew of very capable volunteers. When it comes to moving animals, one prominent volunteer always on hand is 2000 World Champion Steer Wrestler Frank Thompson. Frank and the rest of the wranglers did a great job not only in keeping the cattle moving, but also in making sure no adventurous animals took advantage of breaks in the fence at intersections to take off on their own. Once inside of Frontier Park the cattle are driven once around the track and into the pens. Then a new group of volunteers will sort the cattle, put horn wraps on the Steer and Team Roping animals, and get ready for the start of events at the 113th annual “Daddy of ’em All”.

It’s time to get Wild and Western! Cattle Drive kicks off 112th Cheyenne Frontier Days

Here they come! Six hundred of the 1,300 prime Corriente steers that are used in the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo are driven over the hill from their pasture north of Cheyenne to the pens at Frontier Park. This is the official kick-off to the 112th annual Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo. The steers are driven the eight miles to the Park along the I-25 service road, much to the delight of onlookers along the route and north bound cars on the interstate. Here they come! Six hundred of the 1,300 prime Corriente steers that are used in the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo are driven over the hill from their pasture north of Cheyenne to the pens at Frontier Park. This is the official kick-off to the 112th annual Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo. The steers are driven the eight miles to the Park along the I-25 service road, much to the delight of onlookers along the route and north bound cars on the interstate.

The 115th Cheyenne Frontier Days is underway

It is official – the 115th Cheyenne Frontier Days is underway. As the Corriente steers roll over the hill it marks the beginning of The Daddy of ’em All. This tradition goes back generations. It used to be the only way to get the animals from their pasture where F.E. Warren Air Force Base sits now, to Frontier Park. Then someone figured out that it was a lot easier to truck the steers to the park, so they quit doing it. Then, sometime in the mid 1980s the cattle drive was revived and continues to this day. The Cattle Drive of today is more symbolic than functional, but it is a great way for invited guests, Committee Chairmen, Dandies, wranglers, volunteers and family to get together for a chuck wagon breakfast and some socializing before getting down to the serious business of putting on the 115th edition of the worlds largest western celebration. Everyone has a hearty breakfast of sausage, eggs, and biscuits and gravy, all cooked to perfection in Dutch Ovens, to get into the right frame of mind for a cattle drive. The drive starts north of Cheyenne and runs south on the service road, parallel to I-25, turns left onto Central, past Kiwanis Lake, turns right onto Kennedy Road, and eventually winds its way to Frontier Park. The entire trip is roughly 6-miles. It is quite a procession with vintage wagons and buggies loaded with media and guests leading the way. Next comes Miss Cheyenne Frontier Days and the Lady in Waiting, followed by 300 Corriente steers. The Committee Chairmen bring up the rear and the whole procession is surrounded by cowboys that hopefully can keep the steers together and moving forward. The Cattle Drive follows the same route to Frontier Park every year and is held on the Sunday before the first rodeo performance. This annual event is always enjoyed by the many onlookers that line the roads along the route. Traffic along the route is controlled by the Cheyenne police and the Wyoming Highway Patrol takes care of keeping traffic moving along I-25. It is always interesting to see that the cars from Colorado and Wyoming hardly slow down, while the cars bearing plates from eastern states slow to almost a crawl. The windows open, the kids shout, and cameras are thrust through the window to record an image of the ‘wild west’ to show to folks back at home. Once the steers reach the arena, the cowboys take over the job of moving the herd from the Committee Chairmen. Then it is once around the track and into pens where they are sorted, fitted with horn wraps and readied for timed event action at the 115th Cheyenne Frontier Days. It is official – the 115th Cheyenne Frontier Days is underway. As the Corriente steers roll over the hill it marks the beginning of The Daddy of ’em All. This tradition goes back generations. It used to be the only way to get the animals from their pasture where F.E. Warren Air Force Base sits now, to Frontier Park. Then someone figured out that it was a lot easier to truck the steers to the park, so they quit doing it. Then, sometime in the mid 1980s the cattle drive was revived and continues to this day. The Cattle Drive of today is more symbolic than functional, but it is a great way for invited guests, Committee Chairmen, Dandies, wranglers, volunteers and family to get together for a chuck wagon breakfast and some socializing before getting down to the serious business of putting on the 115th edition of the worlds largest western celebration. Everyone has a hearty breakfast of sausage, eggs, and biscuits and gravy, all cooked to perfection in Dutch Ovens, to get into the right frame of mind for a cattle drive. The drive starts north of Cheyenne and runs south on the service road, parallel to I-25, turns left onto Central, past Kiwanis Lake, turns right onto Kennedy Road, and eventually winds its way to Frontier Park. The entire trip is roughly 6-miles. It is quite a procession with vintage wagons and buggies loaded with media and guests leading the way. Next comes Miss Cheyenne Frontier Days and the Lady in Waiting, followed by 300 Corriente steers. The Committee Chairmen bring up the rear and the whole procession is surrounded by cowboys that hopefully can keep the steers together and moving forward. The Cattle Drive follows the same route to Frontier Park every year and is held on the Sunday before the first rodeo performance. This annual event is always enjoyed by the many onlookers that line the roads along the route. Traffic along the route is controlled by the Cheyenne police and the Wyoming Highway Patrol takes care of keeping traffic moving along I-25. It is always interesting to see that the cars from Colorado and Wyoming hardly slow down, while the cars bearing plates from eastern states slow to almost a crawl. The windows open, the kids shout, and cameras are thrust through the window to record an image of the ‘wild west’ to show to folks back at home. Once the steers reach the arena, the cowboys take over the job of moving the herd from the Committee Chairmen. Then it is once around the track and into pens where they are sorted, fitted with horn wraps and readied for timed event action at the 115th Cheyenne Frontier Days.

New stock contractor provides plenty of thrills and spills at CFD

While it is not always welcomed by all, change is inevitable. For 2012 Cheyenne Frontier Days made a change to a tradition that has gone back 35 years. In 1976 Harry Vold, "the Duke of the Chutes," and 11 time PRCA Stock Contractor of the Year, became the Stock Contractor for Frontier Days. Harry Vold is a legend. He has been inducted into the Hall of Fame of at least nine organizations including the ProRodeo Hall of Fame and the Cheyenne Frontier Days Hall of Fame. Harry Vold was also inducted into the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City, Okla., and named The ProRodeo Hall of Fame Legend of Rodeo. In 1976, when Harry Vold took over as Stock Contractor, Cheyenne Frontier Days was in its 80th year. It is now in its 116th year and the rodeo committee decided it was time for a change. If you are going to replace a legend, it had better be with someone that is really good. Stace Smith has not reached "legend" status yet, but he is on his way, and right now, Smith is very,very good! "We have really big boots to fill at Cheyenne and we don't take that responsibility lightly," said Smith. "There are thousands of volunteers that are committed to making the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo the absolute best. That's our goal too. We appreciate everyone's efforts and are looking forward to working with them." Stace Smith owns Smith Pro Rodeos and is headquartered in Athens, Texas. His background in rodeo includes contestant, chute boss and pickup man. In 2007, which is well into his career as a stock contractor, Smith was selected as pickup man for the Texas Circuit Finals. The accolades and awards that Stace Smith and Smith Pro Rodeos have accumulated are far too numerous to list here, but there are a couple of things that stand out. In 2001 Smith had the PRCA Bull of the Year — Copenhagen Hurricane. Three short years later, in 2004, Stace Smith was named the PRCA Stock Contractor of the Year — and, he has been named the PRCA Stock Contractor of the Year every year since through 2011. Another award that Smith Pro Rodeos has won in 2004 and 2005 is the PRCA Remuda Stock Award. The public does not hear too much about this award, but it says a lot about the foundation of Smith Pro Rodeos. The PRCA Remuda Stock Award is presented at the WNFR and is voted on by the NFR bareback and saddle bronc riders, which represent the top 15 in each discipline. They vote to determine the stock contractor that brings the best stock to the rodeo events throughout the year. Even though Stace Smith has 321 head of horses in its bucking horse program and hauls about 140 head on the road, there are events like Cheyenne Frontier Days that are just too large for one contractor, and then the primary stock contractor will call in another contractor to help out. Smith was not messing around when he contacted Hal Burns of the Burns Rodeo Company in Laramie, Wyo. Burns Rodeo is known to have outstanding bucking horses and their bulls are best described as being "down right mean." Rorey Lemmel, general manager for Smith ProRodeo added, "Cheyenne Frontier Days is an American icon. Smith Pro Rodeos along with their partners and friends plan on bringing all of their firepower to insure it's the greatest rodeo in the world." If Stace Smith wanted to make an impression with his first CFD Rodeo, he did a good job. The roughstock was fantastic — there were some big rides on top animals and a lot of cowboys hitting the dirt. Stace Smith, and Smith Pro Rodeos, certainly has the potential to start his own 35 year tradition at Cheyenne Frontier Days. ❖

Wild Horse Racing has a new look at 2009 Cheyenne Frontier Days

If you are not familiar with Wild Horse Racing, the concept is simple enough. Three men on a team – a Shank man that holds a rope attached to the halter, a Mugger that holds the horse, and a Rider who saddles the horse and rides around the track. The first rider across the finish line wins. As with most things that sound simple in principle, they are anything but simple when it comes to implementation. In this event, the problem is the horse. These are not saddle horses and the word “Wild” plays a very important part. These horses come out of Harry Vold’s ‘born to buck’ program. They have been out on pastures on the Vold ranch near Avondale, Colo., where they have had almost no contact with humans and definitely have never been under saddle or ridden. Wild Horse Racing has some rules, but not many. There is no safety equipment required. You will see a lot of tape and knee braces. Occasionally you will see an impact vest, but these are usually on racers that have been kicked in the past. All of which really says a lot for the courage of the people that participate in this sport. Wild Horse Racers can be kicked, dragged, run over, run into and thrown off. When the five minutes of absolute mayhem of a race is over, more than one racer is limping, has a concussion, or worse. The Riders all have individual concepts on what works for them when it comes to saddles. You can not walk into a retail saddle shop and buy a Wild Horse Racing Saddle. All are custom made to some degree and different, but they have some similarities. They are very light as the rider has to chase a moving horse while carrying the saddle. They all have something to hang onto on the front of the saddle. They all have a rope loop or metal handle on the back to hang onto. Some have more than one handle in case one pulls out while the horse is bucking. Every Rider has a different philosophy when it comes to stirrups. There can be one, two, or none. The Pickup Men deliver a horse to each team. Some stand quietly and some fight the rope. When the gun sounds (they do use a gun), the mayhem starts. There are horses running everywhere, dragging racers, and running into men and each other. Shank ropes are crossed everywhere, which makes it doubly difficult for the Muggers, because they have to work their way up the Shank to the horse and hold it. Some people have described this as a ‘head lock,’ but what they are trying to do is hold the horse with their arm across the horse’s eyes so the horse will stand while the Rider saddles and mounts them. This is another one of those ‘easier said than done’ things. This year, for the 113th Cheyenne Frontier Days, Wild Horse Racing was different in that an Arena Race was added and each day the event alternated between Arena and Track racing. Arena Racing is basically the same except that the horses are delivered to the teams from the chutes, instead of being brought to the track by the Pickup riders. This means that the horses are fresh because they have not been fighting the shank rope all the way across the arena. When the chute gates open, they charge into the arena dragging the Shank man and the Mugger behind them. A lot of horses are lost right here – lose the shank and you lose the horse and your day is over. Another new wrinkle for the 2009 Frontier Days Wild Horse Racing was the entry of the first all-girl team. The participants in Wild Horse Racing really take a beating and are usually men. While there have been some female members on a team, they are rare. The last female to compete in Cheyenne was a Rider 10 years ago. Members of the team are Jamie Batty, Rider, Angel King, Mugger, and Gina Lawson, Shank. The three women, who are mothers and have been breaking horses all their lives, feel they are up to the challenge. They certainly understood the gravity of their undertaking as two of the women completed living wills before the event. Although the team lost their horses on both days and did not qualify for the Finals, they were right in the thick of the action and you have to applaud their courage. Wild Horse Racing is patterned after events at the very first Cheyenne Frontier Days. While the Arena Race experiment may not be repeated, Wild Horse Racing is a part of the 113 year history of the “Daddy of ’em All” and will be around for some time.

Wild Horse Racing has a new look at 2009 Cheyenne Frontier Days

If you are not familiar with Wild Horse Racing, the concept is simple enough. Three men on a team – a Shank man that holds a rope attached to the halter, a Mugger that holds the horse, and a Rider who saddles the horse and rides around the track. The first rider across the finish line wins. As with most things that sound simple in principle, they are anything but simple when it comes to implementation. In this event, the problem is the horse. These are not saddle horses and the word “Wild” plays a very important part. These horses come out of Harry Vold’s ‘born to buck’ program. They have been out on pastures on the Vold ranch near Avondale, Colo., where they have had almost no contact with humans and definitely have never been under saddle or ridden. Wild Horse Racing has some rules, but not many. There is no safety equipment required. You will see a lot of tape and knee braces. Occasionally you will see an impact vest, but these are usually on racers that have been kicked in the past. All of which really says a lot for the courage of the people that participate in this sport. Wild Horse Racers can be kicked, dragged, run over, run into and thrown off. When the five minutes of absolute mayhem of a race is over, more than one racer is limping, has a concussion, or worse. The Riders all have individual concepts on what works for them when it comes to saddles. You can not walk into a retail saddle shop and buy a Wild Horse Racing Saddle. All are custom made to some degree and different, but they have some similarities. They are very light as the rider has to chase a moving horse while carrying the saddle. They all have something to hang onto on the front of the saddle. They all have a rope loop or metal handle on the back to hang onto. Some have more than one handle in case one pulls out while the horse is bucking. Every Rider has a different philosophy when it comes to stirrups. There can be one, two, or none. The Pickup Men deliver a horse to each team. Some stand quietly and some fight the rope. When the gun sounds (they do use a gun), the mayhem starts. There are horses running everywhere, dragging racers, and running into men and each other. Shank ropes are crossed everywhere, which makes it doubly difficult for the Muggers, because they have to work their way up the Shank to the horse and hold it. Some people have described this as a ‘head lock,’ but what they are trying to do is hold the horse with their arm across the horse’s eyes so the horse will stand while the Rider saddles and mounts them. This is another one of those ‘easier said than done’ things. This year, for the 113th Cheyenne Frontier Days, Wild Horse Racing was different in that an Arena Race was added and each day the event alternated between Arena and Track racing. Arena Racing is basically the same except that the horses are delivered to the teams from the chutes, instead of being brought to the track by the Pickup riders. This means that the horses are fresh because they have not been fighting the shank rope all the way across the arena. When the chute gates open, they charge into the arena dragging the Shank man and the Mugger behind them. A lot of horses are lost right here – lose the shank and you lose the horse and your day is over. Another new wrinkle for the 2009 Frontier Days Wild Horse Racing was the entry of the first all-girl team. The participants in Wild Horse Racing really take a beating and are usually men. While there have been some female members on a team, they are rare. The last female to compete in Cheyenne was a Rider 10 years ago. Members of the team are Jamie Batty, Rider, Angel King, Mugger, and Gina Lawson, Shank. The three women, who are mothers and have been breaking horses all their lives, feel they are up to the challenge. They certainly understood the gravity of their undertaking as two of the women completed living wills before the event. Although the team lost their horses on both days and did not qualify for the Finals, they were right in the thick of the action and you have to applaud their courage. Wild Horse Racing is patterned after events at the very first Cheyenne Frontier Days. While the Arena Race experiment may not be repeated, Wild Horse Racing is a part of the 113 year history of the “Daddy of ’em All” and will be around for some time.

It’s Official — the 116th Cheyenne Frontier Days is under way

Here they come! Five hundred of the 1,300 prime Corriente steers that are used in the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo are driven over the hill from their pasture north of Cheyenne to the pens at Frontier Park. This is the official kick-off to the 116th annual Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo. The steers are driven the eight miles to the Park along the I-25 service road, much to the delight of onlookers along the route and north bound cars on the interstate. The Cattle Drive is the traditional and official start to Cheyenne Frontier Days, but the rodeo does not actually begin for another week. The six days of free admission timed-event slack start on July 18, and the rodeo and concerts start on Saturday the 21st of July, but to the local Cheyenne area volunteers, this is the culmination of all the work that they have put in since the 115th Frontier Days. Before moving the cattle, Committee Chairmen, Dandies, wranglers, volunteers, guests and family gather for a chuck wagon breakfast and some socializing before driving the cattle to the rodeo pens at Frontier Park. When everyone has had their fill of a hearty breakfast of sausage, eggs, and biscuits and gravy, all cooked to perfection in Dutch Ovens, the real work of moving the timed event steers to Frontier Park begins. The annual Cattle Drive is a highly anticipated event not only for those that participate in the drive, but for all the people that line the route to Frontier Park. The drive starts north of Cheyenne and runs south on the service road, parallel to I-25 and eventually winds its way to Frontier Park. It is quite a procession with vintage wagons and buggies loaded with media and guests leading the way. Next comes Miss Cheyenne Frontier Days and the Lady in Waiting, followed by 500 Corriente steers. The Committee Chairmen bring up the rear and the whole procession is surrounded by cowboys that keep the steers together and moving forward. The Wyoming Highway Patrol takes care of keeping traffic moving along I-25. It is always interesting to see that the cars from Colorado and Wyoming hardly slow down, while the cars bearing plates from eastern states slow to almost a crawl. Once inside of Frontier Park the committee chairmen will symbolically drive the cattle once around the track and to the pens. Then a new group of volunteers will sort and pen the cattle, put horn wraps on the Steer and Team Roping animals, and get ready for the start of events at the 116th annual "Daddy of 'em All". ❖