Loading a steer into a trailer is never easy. Neither is branding a calf, corralling a full-grown cow or staying atop a cutting horse. Don’t bother telling that to ranchers, however, because they already know. Such endeavors are part of their everyday life.
Hoping to showcase that way of life, win money and have fun, more than 75 ranchers arrived at the Montezuma County Fairgrounds on Aug. 2 for the Cortez Ranch Rodeo.
Travelling from as far away as Oregon, participants took part in numerous ranch-related activities and in doing so, not only shed light what is required of today’s ranchers, but also illuminated what is a difficult, yet beautiful, way of life.
Exciting format produces impressive results
From the very start, this year’s Rodeo proved to be exciting thanks to a new format that streamlined the event. The format required teams of five ranchers to load a cow, brand a calf, tie down a steer and pen two cows as quickly as possible.
In order to save time, teams divided the activities amongst individual ranchers and as a result, several one-on-one battles pitting cows against men took place.
“The format was a little different,” said Cortez resident Jeremiah Karsten. “You’re forced to do things on your own. It forces a guy to compete individually.”
No team enjoyed a better performance than “Cow House,” a team comprised of Shane Hatch, Rusty Herrera, Bill Weisman, Russell Sullivan and Wade Hatch.
Showing off impressive riding, roping, and tie-down skills, the six-man team from La Salle, Utah, completed the required tasks in two minutes and ten seconds and took home a $3000 first prize.
Also performing well were “The Sale Slaves,” a team comprised of Chase Massengill, JoDan Maribal, Zane Yates, Joe Stevenson and Rowdy Suckla. Finishing second overall with a time of two minutes and 29 seconds, “The Sale Slaves” collected $2000 and relished the experience.
“I rodeo a lot, but there are no events like this,” said Massengill. “This is day-to-day stuff that cowboys are doing. When you’re a rodeo cowboy, you don’t get to do this kind of stuff.”
Cortez resident Will Charles’ horse, Ringo, was named the top horse in the event, while Kasey Rudder was named “top hand” and Wade Hatch was named “top youth rancher.”
Overall, the rodeo paid out $7600 in cash prizes and $700 worth of gear. Just as importantly, competitors offered an opportunity to demonstrate what they do on a daily basis.
“This gives us an opportunity to go to town and show off our horses and show off our riding,” explained Karsten. “We’re authentic guys that actually work for a living and darn sure make a living punching cows.”
“I think this year’s (ranch rodeo) went smooth,” added event organizer Zane Odell. “Everybody who came out really enjoyed it.”