The Manitoba High School Rodeo Association (MHSRA) is among the groups promoting the “Build a Cowboy” program, which is geared to newcomers to the sport of rodeo, who have an interest in becoming a rough stock cowboy — bareback, saddle bronc and bull riding.
Male students interested in becoming an eight-second cowboy had their opportunity to gain instruction and practice at the Elkhorn Riding Adventure arena at Onanole over February and March.
Starting out on a Little Bucky machine, the students get a feel for what it’s like to sit on the back of a slippery rawhide surface. In encouraging more participation in rodeo rough stock events, participants in the program learn aspects of riding and how an animal will react.
The MHSRA’s Little Bucky machine, valued at $1,500, was made possible through the sponsorship of Brent and Ginny Collins of Arden, and Wim and Peggy Van Meijl and Brittany Marshall of Minnedosa.
Creating a bucking motion with downward pressure on a steel handle, the man-made machine gives youth a warm-up before they settle down in a steel chute aboard a breathing, bucking animal. For the most part, the young cowboys have some rodeo experience, but may be looking at a rough stock event as a new avenue to play cowboy.
Clinicians at the sessions included Gord Adams and his son Colin, a bareback rider and MHSRA alumni from Deloraine, Kevin Larsen of Inglis, Dallas Lockhart of Brandon, Wayne Rowe of Goodlands, Ward Cutler of Virden, and Kelly Millward of Garland.
Participants included determined youth from a number of Manitoba and Saskatchewan communities.
It’s the goal of the MHSRA to see additional numbers at the rough stock end of the arena in the second half of the 2011-12 season and in future years, thanks to the Build a Cowboy program. Membership numbers in the timed events are strong, but that doesn’t hold true from a rough stock perspective at this time.
Throughout its early history, the MHSRA has had the presence of a strong group of bareback, saddle bronc and bull riders whose grit and determination are both inspiring and entertaining. The majority of these members were from the high school division, as the junior high program has only been around since 2004.
By bringing forth the Build a Cowboy program, the MHSRA is aiming to improve upon rough stock numbers by keeping the younger students interested and growing into talented high school rodeo athletes. Bareback riders are being deemed as an endangered species, with a mere five per cent of the National High School Rodeo Association (NHSRA) members competing in bareback — a wild eight-second ride on a bucking horse, without a saddle, reins or stirrups!
“With membership down this year at the chute end of the rodeo, we are using the A (stronger) and B side bulls to keep the younger boys in the event,” said Art Cochrane, the MHSRA national director and the current NHSRA president. “The Build a Cowboy program is truly beneficial as it touches on all aspects of the event or events, the youth may be interested in.”