What a day! I've been up to my eyeballs in donation request letters....award catalogs.....mailing lists....etc. What for? Well, it's for our 2nd annual Cowgirl Swank Classic - Women's Ranch Rodeo!
This is something that I am VERY passionate about! Ask me about it and it may be hours before I stop talking. :) What is a ranch rodeo? Well, let me explain.....I grew up in a "rodeo" family. This meant that my dad rode bucking horses, bulls, and he roped calves as well as steers. My mom ran barrels. In fact, she was so good at it that she qualified for the National Finals Rodeo in Oklahoma City in 1976. My folks broke and trained the majority of all our horses. I was very lucky to grow up in such a family! I grew up breakaway roping, goat tying, running poles and barrels....and even did a little bit of team roping. I wasn't much of a team roper back when I was younger because I'm a south paw (left-handed). Heading a steer isn't an option in team roping if you are left-handed. So, my only option was to rope right-handed or heel, which you can do left-handed. My dad didn't think he wanted a daughter lacking a finger or two (fingers can be lost in the dallies when heeling so it's not for the light-hearted). He set out to teach me to rope right-handed. I could swing, but throwing wasn't as powerful as it was with my left-hand. So, I headed a few times, but that was the extent of my heading career.
While I was away working in the cities later on in my life, I heard mom and dad talk about entering a ranch rodeo. What the heck was that? I actually kind of laughed and thought it was silly. It wasn't "real" rodeo after all. Well, fast forward about 15 years and I have an entirely different opinion. I will forget about my earlier misconception about ranch rodeo.....cross it off as ignorance, if you will. Ranch Rodeo is the real deal!! Each one can consist of very different events and then some ranch rodeos are sanctioned so the same events are expected at different locations. When we moved down here, Shane decided that he would get in our local ranch rodeo....the rest is history. We were hooked! I loved it.....but I hung back because it had been 20+ years since I had competed in the arena. Clearly, the guys have an advantage when it comes to pushing steers into a trailer, mugging one down, etc. I still longed to be part of the action.
Then my life changed.....I was hunting for something on the internet when a picture of the Women's Ranch Rodeo Associationflashed across my monitor. HOLY COW!!! What was this all about? I went to their site and read everything I possibly could. I was mesmerized.....there was an association fully dedicated to ranch rodeo and WOMEN....it was sanctioned with a world finals at the end of the year and everything!! Could it get any better?! I think not! My heart almost beat out of my chest!! :)
About a year went by of me watching the association. It became clear that one of their sanctioned rodeos had never been this far north (they are mostly in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas)....it suddenly became my mission to bring it here. I was up for the challenge!
After a couple of visits on the phone with the WRRA's special agent, Billie, we were seriously talking about hosting one in Nebraska. As fate would have it, a gal I knew from town bumped into me and we started talking about it. She just happened to be on the fairboard in the nearby town. Before the end of the week, we were making plans for the 1st ever Women's Ranch Rodeo in the panhandle of Nebraska! I couldn't have been more excited!
We planned and our rodeo was set for the third weekend in July in Crawford. The weekend arrived.....and so did the rain.....and more rain!! I won't go into details of the rodeo other than to say that it was truly a highlight in my life. I smiled the entire weekend....knowing that my dream had come true. After 22 years, I was back in the arena....I had recently turned 40 and I just knew that my best years were yet ahead of me....so far I've been right.....and I was happy knowing that I was responsible (with help from good friends) for bringing a women's dedicated sport to our area! The crowd loved the action....I think the mud actually added to it. Since a drought had been upon us the years prior...everyone was happy to see some mud. My pants could have literally stood on their own at the end of each day....no, I'm not kidding! Our team photo of 48 gals (12 teams):
The best part of the weekend? True sportsmanship and camaraderie. Ladies who I have never met before felt like lifelong friends.....husbands and kids became instant friends.....and it was apparent that the women's ranch rodeo was a big hit!! In fact, another team there went on to host their own weekend of rodeos in September after our event. A true success! Photos fro the weekend:
So, on to our 2nd annual event. It will be bigger and better this year. We are kicking both days off with an Open Stray Gathering (open to anyone). The Open Stray Gathering is an event where a set of 4 people goes after two steers horseback. They break off into pairs and pick their steer. Each steer must be headed and heeled with ropes....then the cowboys/cowgirls dismount and tie the steers up. They must stay tied for 6 seconds. This is fun watching! The winning time at the Cowgirl Swank Classic last year was 45 seconds. I'm happy to say that Shane and his team won it....I was so proud!
We are also adding a calcutta both days so that the spectators can partake a tad bit more. We are also going to be entertained by Rehme Sutton on Saturday evening. I can't wait to hear her play. She is one of my favorite singers of all time!
What does a WRRA rodeo consist of? Well, a team is comprised of 4 women who then compete in each of 5 events: doctoring, trailer loading, calf branding, mugging/tie down, and sorting. I'm sure I will be posting about this again so I can go over each event in detail then. I mostly just wanted to tell you all what had consumed my day for the most part. If you live nearby, mark your calendars for our 2nd annual event....July 19th and 20th in Crawford, NE. You will be glad you did!
Oh yeah, I forgot to say....as far as me heading? I can do that in ranch rodeos because the steers don't come out of a shoot. In fact, I've headed several steers thus far in ranch rodeos (I've also missed a few, but we won't talk about that right now) ;).....talk about putting a smile on my face. I've always been proud of being a lefty.....now I can prove what this old left hand can do! :) ~Cheyenne