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franklin county times

Cowboy event set for Aug. 19 in Hodges

Who is the Ultimate Cowboy? An upcoming contest at Rock Bridge Canyon Equestrian Park in Hodges will decide.

The Ultimate Cowboy Challenge will be held Aug. 19 at 7 p.m. at the equestrian park, pitting up to 20 four-person teams against one another to see which can be the fastest to wrangle three steers.

“It’s similar to a ranch rodeo. You have four people on a team, male or female, and we have a circle drawn on one end of the arena that all four contestants and their horses start from,” explained Wade Hill, who, along with buddy Chris Hensley, is coordinating the event.

Three steers – one small, one medium, one large – will be released into the arena for teams to handle. Each team in turn will have five minutes to rope one and load it on a trailer; rope the second into a 12×12-foot pen; and rope the third and tie it down, like calf roping.

The team that can do it the fastest wins the pot.

“We have seen times in less than two minutes. Everything has to work great for it to be like that,” Hill said. Most teams will, however, be able to finish within the five-minute time limit, which is in place for the benefit of the steers. “We’re not out here to run any cattle to death. We want to take care of the animals.”

Hill and Hensley conceived the rodeo event, which Hill said he has seen before, but “it’s kind of new to this area.”

“It gives these people who enjoy rodeo and their horses something they can do in an evening, have a lot of fun, and it doesn’t cost a lot of money,” Hill said. “People have gotten disgusted with the pure ranch rodeos around here. There are so many rules.”

Cost to enter is $200 per team, with a 60 percent total payout to winners. Hill said in an 11-15 team pool, three places will be awarded (50, 30 and 20 percent of the 60 percent for first, second and third place); for 16 or more teams, four places will be awarded (40, 30, 20, 10 percent).

Hill, who lives on a ranch in Speake where he has hosted similar events, said the first few events he has held have been very positively-received.

“We have had really good participation. It seems like everybody is having a good time and liking it,” said Hill.

His first such challenge at the Hodges arena was held in June, with 14 teams competing.

“It’s just friendly competition. Everyone is pulling for each other, just to have a good time,” Hill said. In fact, Hill said many participants will compete on multiple teams – teams forming and reforming on the spot the day of competition – just to have multiple chances to compete and have a good time.

“Everybody enjoyed it last time,” agreed RBCEP’s Kaysha Galbreath. “It brings in a lot of different people. A lot of people like watching roping and stuff.”

Galbreath, who has served as activities director and assistant park director at RBCEP for about three months, said turnout was probably about 200 for the June event. She anticipates continued Ultimately Cowboy Challenges at the park, since they have been so well received.

The Ultimate Cowboy Challenge will also feature a Girls Branding competition, in which teams of three women will work to head and heel a steer then “brand it,” with baby powder or similar, within a four-minute time limit.

This will be the second time Hill has organized a girls branding challenge. He said he hopes for a big response.

“I would like to say we’d have 10-15 teams in it,” Hill said. “But it takes it time to build and for everyone to get interested. If we can have five or six teams this first time, we’ll be happy, and hopefully get more than that down the road.”

Girls branding promises a 70 percent payback of total pot. Cost to enter is $60 per team.

Of course, cowboy and cowgirl attire is required, including a cowboy hat, long sleeved shirt, blue jeans and boots with heels. No one wearing a ball cap, T-shirts or other short sleeves, or improper footwear, will be allowed to participate. “When you’re in the arena,” Hill said, “that’s just the cowboy way.”

Admission for spectators is $5 (cash only) per person, with children 10 and younger entering free. Hill encouraged everyone to come out and enjoy the spectacle of the Ultimate Cowboy Challenge.

“It is hilarious,” Hill said. “For somebody that is familiar with rodeo, they see things happen and maybe think, ‘Oh, that was a god move,’ or ‘That cowboy worked good; that was smart,’” – but even the initiated in cowboy culture will enjoy watching, Hill said. “At a regular rodeo, everybody likes to see the bull riding. Why? Because they know there is a chance that bull might turn around and hook somebody. It’s just the excitement of what could happen … With all of this happing at the same time, there is always a chance of some kind of wreck or mishap. Somebody will jump off to grab one of these steers, and it will flip and run over them.

“It’s hilarious. It’s a very entertaining event to come watch, even if you aren’t familiar with rodeo.”

Hill himself serves as judge to ensure all teams are following safety and technique rules, although he said he hopes one day the events will pay for themselves to the point that he can hire a judge and participate himself. He said to this point, he and Hensley are barely covering their expenses – for people to run the chutes, a line judge, administrative fees and other costs. However, as someone whose family has worked with horses ever since he was young, Hill said he feels “anything we can do along these lines that promotes the horse business, it’s well worth it.”

“Everybody come out and enjoy it and have a good time,” Hill urged. “We’d be glad to see everybody we could there.”

Cowboys and cowgirls who want to sign up to participate should call Hill at 256-565-0600 Aug. 14.

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