I’m taking a chance using the word cowboy up in the title, as there were several young cowgirls also ready to learn what it takes to stay on the back of a horse that has been trained to put you in the dirt. But Cowboy up will have to do cause I hate to use cow person, it just looses something.
I had the privilege to once again attending if memory serves me right the 12th annual rough stock school for saddle bronc and bareback riders held each year at the Bill Gommersal Arena in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada. The school was established to help young cowboys and cowgirls get started competing in the saddle bronc and bareback riding events at the many rodeos across the province. Who best to teach but those champions who competed and are now retired from the sport.
Retired professional rodeo clown Lee Bellows is kinda a fixture around these parts in the rodeo arenas. He along with a team of professional retired riders and the best pick up men in the country volunteer their time to spend training those who want to ride and compete in the rodeo arena. Francis Rodeo Stock and Bar H Ranch and Rodeo bring a select number of appropriate horses to the school. Knowing their horses they select the horses that are safe for beginners with enough get up and buck to make it a challenge.
There was a time in my life Charlotte and I spent every weekend in our truck camper at a rodeo, photographing the contestants. We were lucky to be hired by the Elbow Rodeo committee for 10 years to supply them prints for their sponsors and they treated us well. I was telling the now retired champions that I had probably more photographs of them than their mothers, they never bought many. Dwayne Detchon in his trade mark pink shirt was one of them, he said on the road he was lucky to have enough money for gas and entry money and I was charging too much. Such is the life of a cowboy going down the road entry fees and fuel and these days that fuel bill will be high.
I’m not going to duplicate a lot of information regarding the school if possible as it is pretty much the same as a previous post I did in 2017 (For the Love of Rodeo) if you want to look it up in the menu. This year’s team included organizers Lee Bellows, Don Gillespie, an honou,rable mention to Kelly Brice not there due to an injury and the team of Lee Sinclair (saddle bronc), Ross Smith (bareback) Wade Rempel, Luke Ellingston, Dwight Dokken, Dwayne Detchon, Shaun Myron, Steve Glen, Dick Hutchinson, Howard Campbell, Gary Giofu and I may have missed a few. I mention them because the recognition and admiration of the students is pretty much all they will get for their efforts. Volunteers who love the sport and are willing to cowboy up and teach others the sport. Lee said it best it takes the whole village to run this event.
For those who are not aware Rodeo is one of the only sports the cowboy and cowgirl contestants pay the winners salary. You don’t place you just donated to the winners money. Some rodeo committees that host the rodeos will throw in some extra money or prize buckles to attract the best contestants, but primarily winnings are paid by the contestants. Learning to ride and win is important for entries fees and fuel money to get down the road to the next rodeo. No other sport I know of is like this can you imagine the effort of hockey players if they only got paid when they won and had to pay to play. I admire and have nothing but respect for those who put in the hours training and travelling to compete in an original western sport of rodeo. As fans in the stands we have no idea of what it takes to be a competitor, we just see the entertainment value and that’s good too, us who watch, help the committees put on the event and all win.
As many of my blog followers probably are not familiar with the sport of rodeo I for one hear all the negative media about the livestock. Well if that media would actually get to know what they are talking about they would find rodeo stock and contestants’ horses are so important to the success of their sport and industry they are well fed and cared for. These animals from bulls to barrel racing horses are trained to do what they are expected of them and cost a lot of money so are not neglected. No different than sled dogs or competition dogs. I watched Wade Rempel after a full day of rescuing students from the horses to keep them safe well after supper hour feed and water his horses first before joining the boys for supper and visit. I have seen this constantly as we usually camped with the competitors at these events, animals fed and watered first. When your income comes from driving truck you look after that truck….well these folks are no different.
Back to cowboy up and the school I will share some of my images, I have to admit I stood in pouring rain photographing many a rodeo performance when it was a business, I did not spend a lot of time in the rain Saturday as I am down to only one camera so images of action are limited. Teresa Bellows, one of the best rodeo photographers around will have many good images on Lee Bellows Facebook page you can check out some of the action there as well.
I am old school in my photography coming from photographing rodeo on film where you cannot afford to let the motor drive run at 20 frames per second. I still find it a challenge to run on single frame and try to time the shot right, bonus less time editing now on the computer however fewer images to choose from. These are a few images of tomorrow’s rodeo champions getting a good start.
Can you believe it after two days of this these young students just kept getting back on. Despite, I’m sure, some pretty sore muscles this group paid their entry and were going to get there money worth. The contractor brought a lot of horses and they did not stop till they bucked them all. Great pre-season training not only for the human contestants but the horses as well. It was great to see old friends again doing what they love and when they are too brittle to compete but help the young carry on the tradition of riding broncs in the great sport of rodeo.
Just one of the many interesting places our truck camper takes us, in my next post I will share my trip to Moose Jaw stopping to check a RV for sale for my brother-in-law and staying and visiting two provincial parks on the way. Hint of the post I took the roads less travelled drove 90 km/hour or approximately 60 miles per hour and got great mileage compared to driving 100 and over…so just slow down and you will support our gas companies and government taxes less. I’m learning it’s not the destination, the beauty is in the journey to that destination and slow and steady gets you there, you can enjoy both.
Until next post subscribe if you want to be notified when new content is posted or just keep checking back, were on the road again and hope to meet you some where down the road. Thanks for your interest it gives me incentive to keep shooting and sharing…. as always I appreciate your comments…Gerry and Charlotte. Charlotte my editor in chief and partner would make a good government redactor.