Rodeo fans go “Behind the Chutes” at the Greeley Stampede

Joe Wasung, left, and Jerod Lichtenberg show the group what bull riders use to stay on the bull during one of the Greeley Stampede's "Behind the Chutes" tours on June 28 in Greeley.
Photo by Samantha Fox |

The Greeley Stampede offers the chance for rodeo fans and newbies, alike, to go “Behind the Chutes” on rodeo days to learn and see what goes on before the rodeo begins.

The tours are offered an hour and a half before the rodeo events, and there are a limited number of spots for each tour. The small groups make it easier to ask questions and interact with some of the guest speakers during the 30-minute tour.

Among those were a couple of wranglers who volunteer with the Greeley Stampede.

Joe Wasung and Jerod Lichtenberg spoke with the June 28 tour group about the process cowboys go through during non-timed events.

They showed the bull rope cowboys use for bullriding, which surprised those in the group. The thought of the cowboy being responsible for keeping the bull rope intact was a new concept for many of them.

But so was the idea that if the cowboy doesn’t keep the rope in just the right way, he’ll get his hand stuck while exiting the bull’s back.

“It was really cool to see how the ropes go around the (bulls) and horses and how important that actually is,” said tour participant Johanna Hunteman of Greeley.

The group wasn’t filled with people who never have seen a rodeo before. Some, like Hunteman, Jessica Kennymore and Alexis Bebell, have gone to the rodeo for about 14 years, but there were still things they didn’t know, like scoring.

All three of them talked before the tour even started about rodeos they’ve attended in the past where cowboys look like they had a great ride, but they didn’t end with a top score.


For those who don’t follow rodeo close enough to know, it’s because the quality of the animal factors into the scoring. In bullriding, if someone stays on a bull that bucks harder than others, that will lead to more points than someone who might stay longer on a bull that isn’t bucking as hard.

Kennymore said it was cool to learn the bulls also are auditioning for the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, just like the cowboys.

Most don’t think about animals auditioning for a rodeo competition, but if an animal is part of the scoring, it’s important that the best and toughest are available.

On the other end of the Greeley Stampede Arena is the starting point for the timed events. Those on the tour learned how wranglers check to see if a horse was released too early, which causes a 10 second penalty.

If that happens, the rider has almost no chance of winning unless every other rider gets the same penalty. It’s technically possible but completely improbable.

The tour allowed people to ask questions about anything they’ve wondered about rodeo and also see the Stampede Arena closer than most besides the wranglers, cowboys and staff.

It’s set at 30 minutes for people to go on the tour with plenty of time to watch the rodeo that night with more understanding of the sport. At the conclusion, a Rodeo 101 class is about to start. The Stampede has members of the Colorado State University Rodeo Club host Rodeo 101, which goes more in depth on the ins and outs of the rodeo. ❖

— Fox is a reporter for The Fence Post. She can be reached at (970) 392-4410, or on Twitter @FoxonaFarm.