It is so nice to see most rodeos and ropings in full swing after the past two years of COVID restrictions throughout the country. Now the biggest thing that challenges the contestants is the cost of travel. It doesn’t seem to matter how you choose to travel these days, it is very expensive with fuel being the main factor for the timed event contestants that are hauling horses.
Many contestants got a dose of California fuel prices as they came out this way for the spring rodeos, barrel racing and ropings. With diesel fuel being over $7 dollars a gallon in many locations as gas prices are way above what one has been paying in other states. Rough stock riders can can ride share to many rodeos while driving but when they have to go to commercial air travel or charter planes, it is hitting everyone in the pocketbook. Still the entries seem to be up at most spring rodeos and the payouts have been good for the most part with new added purses and in some cases, higher entry fees. One definitely has to be winning to justify being on the road these days.
For the most part, the weather has been cooperating with many of the spring events although rain is in such need here in the western states that most don’t seem to mind if there are some wet conditions.
It was a great treat to attend this year’s Bob Feist Invitational at the Lazy E Arena in Oklahoma. The roping was as exciting as ever and when it came to the short round it got even more intense. In all the history of the BFI, I have never witnessed a short round being that tight. Within the top 15 there was less than 3 seconds separating the 15th team and the first place team. The top seven teams were tighter yet and in the 45 years of this roping, the short round basically turned into a one-header and was exciting to watch for sure. The cattle this year were excellent in my viewpoint and over that long score they fit the event well.
New this year was the Legends Roping the day before the BFI in which many past contestants entered up. It was good watching with awesome talent displayed by those who entered. When it was all said and done, Speed Williams and Matt Sherwood ended up the top team, taking home the $40,000 guaranteed payoff put up by Ullman and Peterson Productions. The duo gave a great winners circle interview after the event on Facebook, explaining how they came to rope with one another at this first-ever event. They had high praise for the event and encouraged other ropers to take part in future BFI Legends ropings. Many names were missing from the roster this year and hopefully we will see them in the future.
Other ropings held during BFI week had record amounts of teams seeing the popularity of team roping in the neighboring states. I remember when we took the BFI to Denton, Texas in the early 80’s at the Smith Brothers Arena. Team roping was not very popular in those days in that area, plus it rained over 3” the night before the roping which didn’t help the roping. Johnny Smith and his family went out of their way to offer a fine facility for the roping and the newly built arena was awesome. Bret Beach and Clay O’Brien Cooper won the event in very muddy conditions. I was as disappointed as Johnny was that the event didn’t go over better than it did. The same roping today in that area would be a different story.
Looking forward to the Reno Rodeo where not only will the Wildest, Richest Rodeo In The West will take place but also many roping and barrel race competitions on the grounds as well as in the surrounding areas during the week. Check out this issue for details on these events.
Clovis, Calif. PRCA Rodeo was a huge success this year and once again roped muleys in the team roping. This tends to be some good watching and requires a bit more of a handle on the part of the headers. Another thing this year was that all of the timed events used a rope barrier with an electronic release rather than a the traditional neck rope. This allowed for a far faster pace during the slack and kept the calves moving to the line smoother without a neck rope. A heelers barrier was also used which kept the livestock more consistent than when heelers would tend to ride high on the cattle.
The Red Bluff Round-Up was a great success this year with sellout crowds and a mix of weather. For the most part the weather only affected one performance and the final Sunday was a nice spring day in Northern California. The other events that week also went well and in this issue you can read all about the Broc Cresta Memorial Roping.
Travel Safe and Good Luck. See ya down the road.