For as long as Mancos resident Kole Yeomans can remember, summers have been spent riding horses and rustling cattle on ranches throughout the Southwest, including his family’s ranch near Mancos.
Thus, when the opportunity to compete in the Montezuma County Fair’s Ranch Rodeo on Aug. 3 presented itself, Yeomans was all in.
“We do the stuff that you see in ranch rodeos every day,” the Mancos native said. “It’s fun to show people what we do and it’s always a good time. It’s definitely fun to perform in front of hometown fans.”
Highlighting this year’s Ranch Rodeo was a unique format that required teams of five ranchers or six ranchers to complete a multitude of tasks, including penning, tie-town roping, trailer loading, and branding.
Teams were ranked according to the time that it took them to complete the four tasks, and prize money was awarded to winning teams.
Leading the way in the competition was a team of ranchers from Monticello, Utah, known as the “Wild Bunch,” who completed the assigned tasks in 2 minutes and 58 seconds. Finishing second was a team deemed the “Slip Shots,” which finished in a time of 4 minutes and 8 seconds.
“We work a lot of cattle, and we work in the oilfields,” said Wild Bunch team member Dante Pacheco, who described himself as a fifth generation rancher. “Events like this have a great community element and that’s what keeps us coming back.”
At several points during the competition, ranchers on foot were nearly decapitated by ropes attached to fast-moving steers or stomped by heifers, yet the competition remained injury-free.
The wild cow milking event, which required ranchers to separate a heifer from a larger heard before roping it and milk it featured several cowboys being dragged by their bovine counterparts much to the chagrin of the large crowd.
Country music played over the loud speakers throughout the event, and ranchers of all ages could be seen laughing and congratulating one another on their accomplishments. Midway through the evening, an especially entertaining sequence occurred when a small steer ran underneath the legs of a horse before falling into the arms of a pursuing rancher.
“I’ve never seen that done before,” but it worked,” quipped announcer Zane O’Dell. “That was an interesting.”
As fans filed out of the arena at the end of the three hour event, a small group of ranchers from Utah loaded could be seen loading their horses into nearby trailers in preparation for what one described as a two-hour drive.
“I suppose we’ll be back at it tomorrow,” one man said, as he climbed into his truck. Safe travels on the way home.”
And with that, truck engines fired up and scores of ranchers hit the road in preparation for another day of hard work alongside the horses, cattle, and family members that they have come to love.