Rough riding |

Rough riding

Injury-plagued MCHS rodeo team fights through home event

John Vandelinder

Moffat County High School senior Eric Fleming is bucked from his horse Saturday during the senior boy's bareback event at the Moffat County rodeo. Fleming failed to earn any points during the event, slipping to fifth-place in the all-around category entering the winter break.

Cracked ribs, a torn ACL and a severed nerve.

That’s just a few of the injuries the Moffat County High School rodeo team battled through this weekend during its home rodeo at the Moffat County Fairgrounds.

“We have about 65 percent of our team injured right now,” Bulldog coach Dave Fleming said. “Rodeo is a rough sport.”

Despite the injuries, the show must go on.

Saturday and Sunday’s fall season-ending event saw Gabby Miller compete with cracked ribs, and Taana Taylor rode with a sling around her arm, while Hanna Hegwer and Matt Bohrer watched from the sidelines with what could be season-ending injuries.

Hegwer tore her anterior cruciate ligament at practice Thursday, while Bohrer still is recovering from being speared by a bull’s horn during the summer.

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“We are getting a well-deserved break,” Dave Fleming said. “We are finally at the end of a long run.”

The MCHS rodeo capped off the five-week fall season for the Bulldogs, but many haven’t stopped competing in circuits around the state since April.

The few Bulldogs who weren’t banged up made the most of it last weekend.

Hayden resident Troy Vernon placed second and fourth, respectively, in boys bull riding and third in tie down, to capture a team-high 24 points.

He nearly doubled his total points on the year and now sits in 11th place in the all-around standings with 62.5.

“Troy started the season kind of slow,” Dave Fleming said. “The last four rodeos he’s done really well. I was really pleased with his performance.’

Troy’s sister, Taylor, picked up eight points Sunday in girls goat tying, giving the MCHS junior 27 on the season.

“Taylor never really got on a roll” during the fall season, Dave Fleming said. “Last year, she really peaked at the end of the spring season, so there is a lot of time left.”

Senior Eric Fleming who had a firm grasp on the boys all-around top spot throughout the season’s first two weeks, failed to place and earn any points throughout the weekend.

“Eric drew a tough horse and got bucked off,” Dave Fleming said. “Then he drew a bad steer and missed his calf in roping.”

Eric got hung up in his horse during the bareback event Sunday; a scary sequence of events that Dave Fleming said could have severely injured his son.

“We took him to the hospital and he is OK,” he said. “The X-rays were negative, but he’s really beat up and has a lot of bumps and bruises.”

Eric Fleming is currently in fifth-place in the all-around standings with 89 points.

Miller, cracked ribs and all, placed for the first time this fall season, earning five points for finishing sixth in breakaway.

Dave Fleming also noted that rookie Taana Taylor showed progress in her first year competing in high school rodeo.

“For someone with basically no rodeo experience, she’s been doing good,” he said. “She’s still learning and her horse is still learning, but they are practicing hard.”

The team will have until February to heal its wounds; a four-month break that Dave Fleming said is “long overdue.”

“We didn’t do as well as we had hoped” during the fall season, he said. “But, we’re still sitting OK to make some noise when the spring season begins.

“We are going to take some time off to heal and get right back to it.”

MCHS rodeo Bulldog finishers

Sept. 20-21, Moffat County Fairgrounds

Points in parenthesis

Boys bull riding


2. Troy Vernon (9)


4. Troy Vernon (7)

Boys steer wrestling


7. Eric Fleming


6. Eric Fleming

Boys tie down


12. Troy Vernon

17. Eric Fleming


3. Troy Vernon (8)

15. Eric Fleming

Team roping


16. Eric Fleming

26. Troy Vernon

35. Jesse Moser

36. Gabby Miller


26. Eric Fleming

27. Jesse Moser

28. Gabby Miller

30. Troy Vernon

Girls breakaway


6. Gabby Miller (5)

12. Jesse Moser

26. Taylor Vernon


13. Taylor Vernon

14. Jesse Moser

20. Gabby Miller

Girls pole bending


25. Taana Taylor

28. Taylor Vernon


22. Taana Taylor

30. Taylor Vernon

Girls goat tying


13. Taylor Vernon


3. Taylor Vernon (8)

Girls barrel racing


13. Taylor Vernon

37. Taana Taylor


13. Taylor Vernon

36. Taana Taylor