Mad Jack Hanks
Ranch rodeos, if you have never been to one, is where you see ranch cowboys. Real cowboys. Rodeo cowboys for the most part, in my humble opinion, are just that, rodeo cowboys and toss in some bull riders. On occasion you will find a “sure nuff” ranch cowboy that is one in the same as a rodeo cowboy. Stetson Wright, of the famous Wright family who are all bronc riders except Stetson who also rides bulls. These folks are extremely talented when it comes to riding rough stock. Of course there are other “cowboys” that came off the ranch to enter up and see what they could win. Donnie Gay comes to mind. He was eight times champion bull rider and his dad had a ranch next to our ranch headquarters there at Terrell, Texas. Donnie could fit just about anywhere you put him to plug a hole.
At a ranch rodeo the cowboys that ride “broncs” can ride with one hand in the air or grab the saddle horn or the “night latch” (a rope or dog collar run through the fork of the saddle). Their score is usually higher if they can ride with one hand. There is another difference, usually the broncs used in ranch rodeos are wilder and more unpredictable than the broncs you see in regular rodeos.
They don’t ride bulls in ranch rodeos for the simple fact they are not ridden on the ranch. Whatever you would find a cowboy doing on a ranch, you will find him doing at a ranch rodeo. Milking a wild cow, roping and draggin’ a calf to be branded, team roping and sorting cattle a’horseback are mostly what you will find at ranch rodeos. These guys and yes, gals are professional cowboys, yet not professional rodeo cowboys. Speaking of the gals, I was interested and pleased to see that this year at Cheyenne Frontier Days the gals could ride ranch broncs and “ride as ride can” (hold on and stay on anyway they could). I gotta’ tell ya, gentle readers, some of those ladies put on quite a show including a young lady from my part of the country.
Actually, there are different types of rodeos. I have been to a “logger’s rodeo” in Lake City, Colo., when we had a summer home there. Firemen have rodeos to test their fire fighting skills. Truckers have rodeos to show how well they can handle the big rigs and so on. All of the above are interesting and entertaining but let’s face it. You put men on horseback with wild cattle and folks wanting not to screw up and face the wrath of their peers, you got a good show.
I mentioned once before I was only in one ranch rodeo and tried at age 45 to ride a wild cow (we had no broncs) fresh off the mountain and I think I made two jumps, maybe one and a half. Son Andy won second and I was proud of him and all the ranch lessons that had remained with him over the years. He also roped a cow for the wild cow milking and I was the mugger. Fun!
If you get a chance to see a ranch rodeo in your area before the season is over you need to go. The ranch teams that score the best get to go to Amarillo, Texas, in November where the best of the best go head to head.
Stay tuned, check yer cinch on occasion and remember if you are laying down tracks, leave tracks that don’t blow out! I’ll c. y’all, all y’all. ❖
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