Fall rodeo season preps Moffat County kids for spring
Craig — After only two weeks, the Moffat County High School and Craig Middle School rodeo teams are already halfway through the first part of their season, but there’ll be plenty of time for riding, roping and scoring points for both those things in the months to come.
The fall rodeo season is a brief but important one for the local teams because it sets the tone for the larger season in the spring. Every point counts in events such as pole bending, barrel racing, team roping and more.
“You want to get as many points as you can early so that if you fall on your head or something in the spring, it won’t hurt you too bad,” team member Dusty Taylor said.
The teams are in respectable standing after two meets thus far, one in Cortez and another at home Sept. 6 and 7.
The high school-age members said their turn hosting could have gone better, with their highlights subsequent second-place finishes for Cutter Barnes and Kasen Brennise in tie-down roping in the two-day event. Barnes is ranked second as an all-around leader, with Denton and Dusty Taylor in fifth and sixth place and Kasen in 10th.
There were more positive results in Craig for the only member of the middle school team, Kinlie Brennise, who captured the top honors in barrel racing, goat tying and ribbon roping on the first day, though she faltered somewhat the following day. Even so, her wide array of events has left her among the top rankings of the list of junior high points leaders.
Good results in the fall, with two more meets scheduled for Sept. 20 in Grand Junction and Sept. 27 in Elizabeth, will provide a cushion for when the teams really get going again in March, coach Janice Edwards said.
“There’s a lot more kids in the spring because some kids play football or other sports in the fall, so it won’t get really competitive until later,” she said.
The Colorado state championships once again will be hosted in May at the Moffat County Fairgrounds, which will be beneficial for local riders, though there still will be tough opposition. Unlike other sports, there’s not a distinct timeframe for rodeo, and some teams are able to compete year-round.
The activity is a way of life in Moffat County, competitor Trent Vernon said.
“This is really all we do,” he said. “We don’t play football or anything like that.”
Many involved in rodeo have done it from a very young age and already are accomplished by the time they get to middle school and high school. Still, some parts of the experience take some time to build up the nerve to do well.
“It’s hard to work up the heart to jump off a horse and onto a steer,” Barnes said.
The group dynamic isn’t one that is always instantly recognizable, either. Apart from some team roping events, most participants are on their own in the arena.
However, even when they can’t lend a hand to team members physically, the Moffat County youths always have one another’s backs in other ways, even if it’s just with good will within the same event.
“If you don’t win, then you still want someone on your team to win,” Dusty Taylor said.
Local land managers have proposed allowing the public to rent out Sarvis Cabin on the banks of the Yampa River just below Stagecoach Reservoir.