The Waldo Canyon fire dealt a heavy blow to the Colorado Springs area. Hundreds lost their homes and thousands were forced to evacuate. The Norris-Penrose Event Center and Pike’s Peak or Bust Rodeo Foundation and their extensive community and military charities stepped up in a big way to act as an evacuation center for large animals through the donation of their numerous barns and stables. The Center took in and cared for 167 horses, 24 cows with calves and one bull. They also provided a needed sense of normalcy by not canceling the long-planned Ride for the Brand Ranch Rodeo and inviting any evacuee to join them with the gift of a free ticket and a free meal.
Rob Alexander, President of the Pike’s Peak or Bust Rodeo Foundation said, “It’s been a hectic week here with the horse evacuation, of course we donated the facility for all evacuated horses from the fire. We’ve had this event planned all year. It’s a major event for us. We weren’t sure if we were going to cancel it on Wednesday, but we were encouraged by the Mayor and the Fire Chief to go ahead and leave the lights on in the city and keep doing business.”
The fire had only been burning for a couple of days when the Ride for the Brand Ranch Rodeo was held. New General Manager, Johnny Walker, who came on board just in time for two major events and a crisis situation, said “A lot of the evacuees who have been stuck in hotel rooms or with friends and family, hopefully they will come out and get a little bit of a reprieve and forget about the fire for a little while.”
“This community comes together in times like this and you see it on all different fronts,” said Walker, “We wanted to go ahead and have the event and not only that, but we wanted to reach out to our friends and neighbors who have been evacuated and have been suffering all week.”
Part of that community was Mike Callicrate owner of Ranch Foods Direct. “Mike Callicrate has been on our Ranch Rodeo Committee for many years,” said Rob Alexander, “When the crisis hit, he was right in there wanting to give any evacuee a free burger, and we had the Old German Bakery donating the buns, and Rocky Mountain Coors Distributing donated Coors products to the evacuees and the bottled water. It was a great effort.”
It was an effort that was well received by the community because the lines were long for the burgers and the seats were full of rodeo fans. For many of them, it was their exposure to first ranch rodeo. Although the roots of both ranch rodeo and pro rodeo are the same in that they both grew out of ranch hands gathering to see who was best at their job, that is pretty much where the similarity ends.
In pro rodeo, events have become structured and stylized and the equipment specialized, while in ranch rodeo competition, the equipment used in the arena on Saturday was being used on the ranch on Friday. There are no style points in ranch rodeo and the emphasis is on just getting the job done. The uncertainty built into ranch rodeo is part of the attraction.
Team roping is the only event in pro rodeo that requires more than one person. Bronc riding is the only ranch rodeo event that requires only one person. In short, the best way to describe the difference between the two is that pro rodeo is all about individual events and ranch rodeo is all about team events. One is not better than the other — they are just different. They both are exciting and draw plenty of fans.
The Working Ranch Cowboy Association (WRCA) has some very specific rules regarding competing individuals and teams. A “working ranch” is defined as any cattle ranch that has a 300 head cow/calf operation or runs at least 750 yearlings for at least six months out of the year. All participants must be ranch owners, full time employees or day workers. Not only that, but everyone, from ranches to day workers has to provide financial records to prove that they qualify.
A ranch team must have at least four but no more than six team members and just like working on the ranch, there are no gender, sex, or age restrictions. There is a unwritten “common sense” factor when it comes to kids, but, if you can do the job, you can compete. Ranches that qualify, but can not field enough people for a team may combine.
There were 12 teams competing at the 10th annual Ride for the Brand Ranch Rodeo. They came from Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, Wyoming and Texas. This was a WRCA sanctioned rodeo, which means that the first place team will be able to compete in the WRCA World Championship Ranch Rodeo in Amarillo, Texas in November. That is why these cowboys are here. There are buckles and small checks but a ticket to Amarillo is the real prize.
When the dust settled and the points were all counted, it was the Prothro - Britten Ranches from Kerrick, Texas, that wold be going to the World Championships in November. “We’re really happy, fortunate, and blessed to be here and do the job that we did. Luck went our way this time,” said team captain, J.D. Roberts.
Good luck to the 2012 Ride for the Brand Champion at the WRCA World Championships in Amarillo, Texas, and a big “Thank You!” to the Norris-Penrose Event Center and Pike’s Peak or Bust Rodeo Foundation and to all the people who stepped up to show what good neighbors Colorado residents are. ❖