Craig’s Black Mountain Junior Rodeo races through summer series | CraigDailyPress.com

Craig’s Black Mountain Junior Rodeo races through summer series

Organizers plan for possible winter events

— Plenty of people were horsing around Wednesday evening at Moffat County Fairgrounds, but in a good way.

The final summer event this season for the Black Mountain Junior Rodeo Series drew nearly 50 competitors for a night of gymkhana events such as barrel racing, flag racing and pole bending. Youths from across Northwest Colorado, Craig, Hayden, Meeker and more proudly showed their riding prowess while family and friends cheered their progress, ending with a special awards and payout ceremony by organizer Bev Salazar.

Membership can lead to payouts, and 26 kids pay regular dues. Sponsors include Sombrero Ranches, Masterworks Mechanical, Wells Equine Massage, Trapper Mine, Yampa Valley Bank, Twentymile Coal Co., Wendy McKee and Denette and Alan Webber.

Salazar has been offering the series on a weekly basis since June, seeing a great turnout.

"It's low-key, and it's a tune-up for the bigger rodeos like Little Britches," she said.

The events are open to all ages, though some of the contestants are still novice riders and require some help from parents out on the course.

Recommended Stories For You

"They get more mature with it, and then they can do it on their own," Salazar said. "It's cool to watch them grow."

Seeing children she's known since before they could handle a horse become proficient equestrians is especially enjoyable for Salazar's view from the announcer's booth at the fairgrounds.

"It's nice to see them advance and how they're doing it all on their own and how fast they're going," she said.

Now 6 years old, Myka Grajeda had her first experience with a saddle at age 1. Riding has been an important part of her life ever since.

"I like the flags best," she said after a successful run in the arena atop her horse, Cocoa.

Her mother, Kristin, said she enjoyed the format of the rodeo series, smaller than some of the other gatherings for the sport, which can be intimidating for younger riders.

"It's more local kids, and they all go to school together," she said. "A lot of these kids travel and go all over the place, but for others they can get some practice."

Although Wednesday marked the finale for Black Mountain's summer series, Salazar hopes to arrange a winter session at an indoor location, ideally keeping the same low registration prices for each event.

"You can't beat five bucks," she said.

Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com or follow him on Twitter @CDP_Sports.