Dirt Road Diary at Iron Horse Ranch

Mail Call

Connie CaseyI just love the deep growling, rumbling and pounding of a thunderstorm! It is a not so subtle reminder of the power of Mother Nature. I’m in the basement with my binoculars looking for the kids with that first clap of thunder because I can’t hear them anywhere from the porch. I can see across the hay fields that the kids have gone to the mail box. What likely started out as a leisurely stroll has morphed with the sudden storm and they are running now. Wet mail and packages are gripped tight. I can see the boxes are crushed and mushy from the onslaught and haphazard mode of transportation. The boys in their muddy boots stomp and splash on the dirt road. The kids are racing the rain more than each other for the half mile back. They are still a ways off and I can hear shrieks of laughter carrying on the wind. They approach the house giggling, panting and nearly breathless. Stumbling onto the stoop and soaked to the bone they are smiling like it is Christmas and muddy up to the knees. These kids are joyful about being soggy and delivering packages and envelopes that look like they have been through a wringer. And as abruptly as turning off a light switch — it is over. The roar is replaced by silence and a few disappointed groans from my wet boys. I gathered the mail and watched them run back out to splash for awhile longer. Just today I had a firm grip on my umbrella not willing to get wet when I had to go to town on errands. Maybe I need to take a lesson from the kids. How long has it been since you felt JOYFUL about being caught in the rain?

Boys running in rain

The Birth of a Bull Rider at PRCA Junior Rodeo Camp

Connie CaseyBaby bull rider

Since my youngest was still in diapers he has wanted to be a bull rider. At home he had to settle for horses but our mounts weren’t wild enough to match his need for speed. Not just speed though; this little adrenaline junkie wanted to ride a derailing crazy train. The Mutton Busting events he has participated in didn’t do much for him either except teach him that plowing the arena floor with your face is no fun. I’m not sure what it is that makes us so different right from birth but THIS son was born ready to take on every crazy challenge. If he couldn’t find an X Game type adventure he made one of his own. His nickname is “H Bomb”. I really should buy stock in mouth piece and helmet companies. We spent lots of time over the years going to Friday night bull riding practice watching all the young guys give it a try. About a year ago someone gave him a beautiful handmade bull rope that has been hanging in his room like a museum piece. It is his prized possession. My young son has been counting down the days until he was 8 and ready for some rough stock events in Junior Rodeo. That day has come. 

Anxiously waiting to leave for Rodeo Camp

Saturday the 19th of March was the PRCA Rodeo Camp in Coeur d’ Alene ID. The boy has never readied himself for the day with such urgency! He raced through breakfast and went to sit at the barns and wait for 9am to come. Upon arrival we were greeted by Julie Jutten, the Manager of Industry Outreach for the PRCA at check in. As the event organizer she did an awesome job juggling parents, kids and cowboys, getting everyone to the right place at the right time. The 34 participating kids ranging in age from 8 to 18 split into their groups ready to go! Bull, saddle bronc and bareback riding hopefuls gathered round their MORE than qualified instructors with rapt attention and our day got under way. 

Watching the instructor

I spent most of my time watching the bull rider class. The cowboy in charge of this group was Justin Andrade out of Hollister California. He is a past qualifier of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. I was especially impressed with his patience with such a young group of newbies. My little man Hunter had a blast. They reviewed safety equipment, learned how to tie bull ropes and practiced on a “dummy”. No buck outs in this clinic! I must admit I was pretty happy with that! I was pleasantly surprised at the lunch break that the cowboys each spoke with the entire group about health and fitness. Rodeo isn’t just about going for a wild ride, it is about becoming an athlete! At the end of the day they gathered at the bucking chutes and took turns sitting on a bull to practice chute procedures and livestock safety.  Much to Hunter's chagrin, this critter was uninterested in giving him any action! 

Practicing bull rope knots

Bull rope knots

Danny Alires riding out of the great state of Washington directed the saddle bronc group. This professional cowboy is a resident of Bickleton, WA and a past qualifier of the Columbia River Circuit Finals (PRCA). They too reviewed all of the equipment and practiced on a “dummy”. At the end of the session they each took turns sitting in the chute on a horse. 

Saddle Bronc instruction

Cowboy Jared Smith out of Eastland Texas ran the bareback class. This two-time NFR qualifier excels as a bareback riding master! The “dummy” used in this group looked like a lot of fun! Back at the chutes, they enjoyed taking turns on the horse of the day!

Well, this is now all my kid talks about. He is tying bull ropes on banisters, gates and fences. For some folks rodeo is bred into them. For others it is a way of life they found they could love. For the rest it can merely be entertainment. Wherever you find you stand on it come on out and support rural America. You won’t be disappointed. What more could you ask for on a beautiful Saturday?

This camp is a FREE event! There are 12 remaining camps on the schedule at this point for 2016. Please see the official schedule and more info on junior rodeo at Pro Rodeo Kids. If you are new to rodeo, are a skeptic of rodeo or just looking for something fun to do I strongly encourage you to come out and enjoy the show. PRCA sanctions over 600 rodeos each year in 37 states and 3 Canadian provinces, so there is surely one near you! Please check out this link for PRCA rodeos in your neck of the woods. Thank you to Lacey Green Photography for coming out for the day!  Check out more of her work at Lacey Green Photography.

Rodeo Camp CDA 2016