Born to buck |

Born to buck

MCHS rodeo team to compete homecoming weekend

John Vandelinder

MCHS rodeo order of events

Arena 1 - outdoor

Barrel racing

Grand entry

Steer wrestling

Breakaway - section 1


Saddle bronc

Bull riding - section 1

Calf roping - section 1

Bull riding - section 2

Team roping - section 1

Breakaway - section 2

Calf roping - section 2

Team roping - section 2


Pole bending

Goat tying

If you go

What: MCHS rodeo

When: 10 a.m. Saturday, 8 a.m. Sunday

Where: Moffat County Fairgrounds

Contact: For more information, call 970-824-5708

— Hanging on to a horse galloping more than 30 miles per hour, letting go of the reins and jumping on to a 500-pound steer.

Tying yourself to a 2,000-pound bull and trying to hang on for eight seconds.

Wrestling an animal that outweighs you by more than 300 pounds to the ground.

What drives a kid to do this?


“This is our version of extreme sports,” MCHS rodeo coach Jill Hegwer said. “These kids love to ride.”

The nine members of the Moffat County High School rodeo team take risks every time they saddle-up.

The rodeo team kicks off its fall season finale this weekend, when it hosts the MCHS Rodeo at the Moffat County Fairgrounds.

“It’s not a sport for the timid,” team president Eric Fleming said. “You use muscles you never know that you even had.”

Although Moffat County is represented as a team, rodeo is more of an individual event. It’s just rider and the animal.

Each event is timed, with the winner earning 10 points, descending down to the 10th-place finishers at one point apiece.

“It’s all about what you do in the small amount of time that you have,” Fleming said. “You want to beat every other cowboy in front of you. Nobody wants to lose.”

Hegwer said that there is so much to each event that people don’t understand.

Points are accumulated on form, technique and overall ability to handle your animal.

“Goat tying isn’t just about tying up a goat,” Hegwer said. “It’s very technical and precise. You have to shoot off your horse, flank the goat and tie it up. This all happens in about nine seconds.

“It’s so very fast.”

Sophomore Jessi Moser competes in three different events.

“Rodeo is a full-time job,” she said. “We compete in all kinds of different events. Not just the high school stuff.

“We really love what we do.”

Practice time for the Bulldog rodeo team is difficult to obtain since horses, bulls and steers don’t fit inside normal high school sporting facilities.

“We have to travel to Clark to be able to practice on the rough stock – the bulls, broncos and bare-backs – it’s not something you can practice just anywhere,” Hegwer said. “We are fortunate to have a stock-contractor who is willing to help us out with that.

A stock contractor is the person who supplies the bucking-broncos and the irritated bulls for rodeo events, and they don’t come cheap.

“It costs us between $8,000 and $9,000 just to have stock brought out to the rodeo,” Hegwer said. “These animals are worth more than $30,000. They are a stock-contractor’s livelihood.”

Most of the funding for the Bulldog rodeo team comes the old-fashioned way.


“Since August, these kids have been pounding the pavement doing all they can to get companies to donate to their cause,” Hegwer said. “The school allots us $4,000 per season. We use more than that on just one rodeo.”

Hegwer also said parents of the cowboys and cowgirls are the key cogs in the rodeo machine working efficiently.

“These kids’ parents foot most of the bill,” she said. “Without them, these kids wouldn’t be able to compete.”

With parents in the stands cheering on their kids, creating most of the Bulldogs rodeo team fan-base, Hegwer said more fans are needed for the sport to thrive like it once did.

“Rodeo is a dying sport,” she said. “15 years ago, I had 25 kids on my team. “Now, I’m lucky to have nine.”

This weekend will be the last event of the fall season for the Bulldogs rodeo team. The scheduling during homecoming weekend should make it all the more attractive to the occasional fan, Hegwer said.

“It would be great if the stands were full,” she said. “Give rodeo a chance.”

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