The Ute Mountain Roundup Rodeo opened Wednesday night with an exciting array of fireworks, a stirring singing of “God Bless America” and thrilling rides by some of rodeo’s biggest stars.
Bull rider Ty Wallace, ranked No. 3 in the world, created fireworks of his own.
The Colbran native sat in the shoots as the first six bull riders were bucked off before climbing aboard a bull named Gale Force and bringing the crowd to its feet with a dizzying ride that resulted in a score of 77.00.
“It’s the first time that I’ve been here to the pro rodeo, and these guys have been good to me,” Wallace said. For a small-town rodeo, they’ve done a really good job. I had a good little bull, a young bull that was kind of out of line for a minute, but he spun, and it worked out.”
Among the other well-known stars who provided standout performances was Corona, New Mexico, resident Taos Muncy, who currently sits 16th in the world standings for the saddle bronc event and has won $1.4 million in his career.
Perched atop a bucking horse with a distinct kick and an unnatural rhythm that would confound less-experienced riders, Muncy stayed aboard and earned an evening-best score of 79.
In the tie-down roping event, Albuquerque resident Seth Hall’s time of 9.7 seconds placed him at the top of the leaderboard. Nick Guy of Sparta, Wisconsin, put forth the best steer wrestling performance of the night with a time of 4.1 seconds.
“I was here last year, and I got the same time,” said Guy, who is ranked No. 5 steer wrestler in the world. “The arena conditions are always good here, it’s a nice big arena, the ground is good, the steers are usually good, and it’s a great little rodeo.”
Other highlights from the evening included a 17.60-second barrel race from Jessie Telford of Caldwell, Idaho, and two scary moments for bull rider Dalan Duncan, who rode three times after his first two bulls of the evening tripped and fell coming out of the shoot.
At the conclusion of the evening’s events, several competitors signed autographs outside of the arena much to the delight of young fans, who eagerly handed posters to smiling cowboys and cowgirls.
“I try to set a good example for younger kids because I remember growing up and looking up to guys who were where I’m at in my career,” Wallace said. “If I can make a kid’s dream come true and give them some confidence, I enjoy it.”
Although the first night of the Ute Mountain Roundup Rodeo is now in the books, local fans can still catch all of the excitement during two more nights of nonstop action, which starts at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday.