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Little Rodeo on the Prairie

Bert Entwistle
Colorado Springs, Colo.
Bert EntwistleJohnny Miller, of the winning Bradley J3/Veale team does a little rope dance with his trailer loading steer.

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If you love rodeo, especially ranch rodeo, Hugo, Colo., was the place to be on June 26-27. The Working Ranch Cowboys Association (WRCA) brought its brand of ranch rodeo to the Lincoln County fairgrounds for two days of roping, riding and rodeo fun. Fourteen teams comprised of 24 different ranches out of five different states showed off their skills in riding, roping and bronc riding events competing for cash and prizes.

The Colorado Championship Ranch Rodeo committee put on five different point’s events, as well as, one jackpot event and a RHAA horse show. This year, summer in Lincoln County has been as wet as anyone can remember in years. Hugo is surrounded by lush green grass, as far as anyone can see but Mother Nature held off for the two rodeo days, and contestants and fans alike enjoyed the summer weather.

Branding calves is a familiar sight around here in the spring and the Team Branding event is very close to what really happens at the ranches. Cattle are heeled from a herd and drug to the fire and branded (in this case the fire is replaced with a bucket of chalk). Fastest time on two head wins. This year’s top branders were the Bradley J3/Veale Ranches team out of Texas.

The Number Sorting, also a common ranch job, went to eastern Colorado’s own Rush Creek Cattle and JOD Ranches team. Ranch Bronc Riding is done as it would be on the ranch, no PRCA style saddle, and ride as ride can, holding on with two hands is fine – just like on the ranch. This year’s top bronc rider was Nick Allen with the Paddy Creek and Tiffany Ranches out of the Flint Hills of Kansas. Allen a longtime bronc rider covered both his broncs for the win.

The Wild Cow Milking may be the all time favorite event for ranch rodeo fans and these working cowboys didn’t disappoint. In the milking event, a large (1,200-1,300 lb.) mama cow is let into the arena, and one cowboy on horseback ropes her and three more try to hold on long enough to get a little milk in an empty longneck beer bottle.

If you’ve ever wanted to see a Charlie Russell cowboy painting come to life – this would be the moment you were waiting for. The cowboys always get the worst end of the deal – getting stomped, trampled and drug through an arena full of runny cow atmosphere is the norm. Once a cowboy has a little milk in his longneck, he heads for the judge to stop the clock. The only thing easy about this event is finding someone to empty the full longnecks – there’s plenty of volunteers for this job.

This years winners of the Wild Cow Milking was the Scribner Ranch, a team full of great cowboys from Kansas. The Stray Gathering is almost as much fun to watch as the milking. Two yearlings are turned into the arena, four cowboys on horse back head and heel their yearlings and lay them down. The next thing to do is tie three legs on each steer and the rope must hold for six seconds. If it sounds like routine cowboy work, it’s not. Great tangles of horses, cows and cowboys can happen at any time and getting it done takes lot of skill. The Stray Gathering was also won by the Scribner team.

The Jackpot trailer loading was claimed by the LTF Cattle/Hansford County Ranch out of Gruver, Texas. Special awards are given to the horse judged to be the Top Horse, and Garrett Manness of the LTF team claimed the win and a beautiful portrait of his horse “Sis.” Another special award was the Top Hand award, an award voted to the winner by all the participating cowboys. This year a beautiful Top Hand buckle went to J.B. Miller out of Electra, Texas.

After two days of rodeo, the wind began to kick up and a few scattered raindrops began to fall, the scores were tallied up and the Winner of the 2009 Hugo Championship Ranch Rodeo was the Bradley J3/Veale Ranches team form Electra and Wetherford, Texas. The Texas hands claimed a check for $ 3,500 and each received a beautiful custom buckle. Second place went to the Colorado team of Rush Creek Cattle and JOD Ranches out of Limon, Colo. Third place went to the Wachob Ranch and TC Outfit out of Nebraska.

As the rain began to fall a little harder, the cowboys and their families said their good-byes to friends, old and new, and headed for their rigs. Heading home through the newly green fields they think about what has to be done on the ranch – the same thing they just did for fun.


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