Rodeo kids rock the Rockies
On July 27, more than 800 kids aged five to 18 descended on the Colorado State Fair grounds in Pueblo, Colo., to compete in 30 events for a shot at a world championship buckle. Along with the buckles, there were over $190,000 in custom saddles and another $60,000 in scholarships on line. Along with the contestants came their support groups including Moms, Dads, Brothers, Sisters, dogs, cats and of course horses – lots and lots of horses.
The Little Britches Rodeo Association started more than 50 years ago at the Arapahoe County fairgrounds in Littleton, Colo., and was named the Little Britches Rodeo from the start. The Littleton event continued as a once a year rodeo until 1961 when representatives from several states met to talk about the possibility of establishing a national youth rodeo. By the time they were done the National Little Britches Rodeo Association was founded and headquarters set up in Denver.
The Little Britches mission statement says “It is a non-profit venture to build sound, healthy minds and bodies – to develop character, self reliance and good sportsmanship through competition in the great sport of rodeo.” Today, the main office is in Colorado Springs and the National Little Britches Finals Rodeo is held every year in Pueblo, Colo. Competition begins every year with more than 300 rodeos held in 15 states across the country. Every year, more than 2,000 kids compete in 30 different events in five different classes.
This year found more than 800 kids qualified for the big show. The finals ran from Monday, July 27, through Saturday, August 1, with two long rounds Monday through Friday and the championship round on Saturday. The kids also compete for scholarships with an emphasis on academic accomplishments. This year, $8,000 was awarded to six different students.
In the Seniors Boys All-Around Wyatt Clark, from Wellfleet, Neb., claimed the gold buckle scoring 1,880 All-Around points. Clark also won the Bareback Bronc riding and placed third in the Tie-Down and won the Finals All-Around.
Amberly Snyder, from Elkridge, Utah claimed the Senior Girls All-Around win with 2,550 points, finishing Fifth in Pole Bending and Ninth in the Goat Tying. Amberly also won the Finals All-Around.
In the Junior Boys class, E. Hunter Brassfield, out of Delta, Colo., claimed the prize. This tough young cowboy also finished Ninth in the Flag Racing, 20th in the Ribbon Racing with sister Brittanny, Second in the Goat Tying, 31st in the Breakaway, 11th in the Bull Riding and Second in the Bareback for a whopping 3,576 world points.
Skylar Eagles, from Center, Colo., took home the gold in the Junior Girls All-Around with 4,105 points. Eagles won the World in the Breakaway, finished 12th in the Pole Bending, Second in the Trail Course, Third in the Goat Tying, 19th in the Barrel Racing and the Finals All-Around in an outstanding performance.
In the Wranglers All-Around, a co-ed class for the youngest contestants, Kash Catoor, from Nephi, Utah placed First for the buckle. The young cowboy turned in a Second place performance in the Flag Race, Third in the Pole Bending, Third in the Goat Tail Untying and finished 15th in the Barrel Racing as well as winning the Finals All-Around.
The Little Britches rodeo is rich in history, with many of the pro rodeo athletes doing some of their early work in the association. Ty Murray, nine-time PRCA World Champion came up through the Little Britches ranks as well as the Etbaur Brothers, Kristie Peterson, Marlene McCrae, Cimmaron Gerke and today’s top PBR rider Kody Lohstroh.
This year the PBR stepped up with a special deal for the Junior and Senior Bullriders. The top three bullriders in the Little Britches Junior and Senior division will qualify to ride at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas during the first weekend of the 2009 Finals. Randy Bernard, CEO said in a recent press release, “NLRBA is an essential fabric to the sport of bullriding and the PBR is proud to be associated with such a great association.” No doubt, that these six bullriders will get the thrill of their lives this November thanks to the PBR.
The economic impact of the Little Britches Finals is well over $10,000,000 annually, and it can be seen all across Pueblo in the full motels and crowded restaurants. The city of Pueblo and the State Fair has opened their arms to the Little Britches and they will be back to the fairgrounds next year with hundreds of kids ages eight to 18 waiting impatiently for their next run.
On the last day, you can see the kids lingering a little longer on their horses, writing down phone numbers and sharing a few hugs. The kids don’t really want it to end and if the truth was known neither do the Moms, Dads, Brothers or Sisters – it is a great place to spend a week.