For the love of rodeo

I had the privilege of getting to sit in on an annual rodeo school last May in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan and witnessed the passion many have for the sport of rodeo. Many past rodeo stars, contractors and pick up men spent their weekend helping young cowgirls and cowboys get a safe instruction in a rough sport of rodeo, saddle bronc and bareback riding.

A group of approximately 20 young cowboys and a cowgirl, a little stiff and sore,sat in the stands of the Bill Gommersal Arena in Moose Jaw Sunday morning listening intently to the words shared from past pro rodeo stars. “You have got to want it, you have to not only be physically ready but more importantly mentally focused, you have got to want to win. Anything less and you could end up getting yourself hurt,” words from past pro rodeo bareback rider Ross Smith.

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Ross Smith and Lee Sinclair share their professional knowledge to a group of young riders gathered to learn either bareback or saddle bronc riding.

It was the final day of the three day roughstock school.  The group was down a few students, having decided the sport was not for them. While the instructors desire to have young riders share that passion to ride was evident, they also passed on the message that perhaps the sport is not for everyone. If you are just going to show and to get on for the rush and a Saturday night party, you’re going to probably get hurt. If you want to be part of rodeo it may be best to find another area to help out. A message intended to provoke some thought qualifiying those who were serious for their own safety.

“It’s about learning the proper techniques of the sport and safety, that’s why we started this deal,” said Lee Bellows, a professional rodeo clown. Lee is one of the organizers of the three day saddle bronc and bareback school now in its seventh year in Moose Jaw. Bellows said myself, Kelly Brice and Don Gillespie saw a need for a school to promote the sport in a safe environment. We have had the support from dozens of top rodeo cowboys and stock contractors who as volunteers have made the school a huge success over the years. Instructors Lee Sinclair, Ross Smith and Dwight Dokken share their many years of experience and passion for the sport over the weekend each year.

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Lee Sinclair instructs on proper foot placement on a mechanical horse.

“The horses are supplied by Francis Rodeo Stock and Bar H Ranch and Rodeo. They bring lots of good safe, chute-broke horses for the beginners. They give of their time and expertise all weekend and we only reimburse them for their fuel to haul the horses,” Bellows said. “We also hire the best pick up men in the business, Wade Rempel, Luke Ellingston and Dwight Dokken, for the safety of the students. When learning there is bound to be some wrecks and we want the best to be there to help and minimize the danger,” Bellows added.

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Ross Smith demonstrates spurring techniques on a spurboard used for practice.

Before even getting on a horse, hours of proper riding techniques, from spurring, equipment checks and safe dismount is taught. Dozens of past rodeo professionals too numerous to mention also attend lending many years of experience and help to promote the lifestyle and sport of rodeo.

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Lee Sinclair with final instructions before the first ride on a saddle bronc.

Having photographed many performances of rodeo and loving the sport where your paycheque comes only with winning, this training is invaluable. Not only to keep one as safe as possible with the knowledge and technique in a rough tough sport. It very likely would speed up a contestant’s chance of collecting “the money” or contributing to the winners paycheque.

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Learning by getting on some good rides and some not…
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Lee Sinclair, “good ride but here is where you can improve”.

“That’s what it is all about, getting them started in a safe as possible environment to gain the confidence and skills they need to compete and this is our way of giving back to the sport we all share a passion for”, Bellows said. The school will be back in May 4,5 & 6th 2018 again in Moose Jaw  with the same instructors.  Anyone interested or if you know someone interested you can call Lee Bellows at 306 693-7533.

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