The contest is open to kids ages 4 to 7 and up to 50 pounds in weight. The riders Thursday donned sturdy helmets, bright pink vests and rugged cowboy boots before they wrangled sheep and took off.
The goal is to bear hug the shaggy steed and stay on for as long as possible. Some kids toppled off after mere moments, but others hung on for 10 to 15 seconds.
Rider Makenna Burton, 7, earned a respectable score of 81 out of 100. She said some parts were easier than she expected, but some parts were harder.
“It was a little of both,” Makenna said. “It was hard that they took off so fast, but holding on was easier.”
Sisters Aniya Murphy, 5, and Abilene Gustamantez, 7, were two big winners at the contest, earning the first and third places, based on their scores.
Abilene’s ride earned her a score of 92.
“It was awesome,” she said.
Aniya was hesitant to take a ride at first, mounting and dismounting a sheep several times before getting the courage to blast out of the gate.
“I didn’t want to ride the one with horns,” she said.
Her parents had to coax her onto a different sheep, but she locked her arms around the sheep’s neck and hung on so long that event organizers had to pry her off.
Her impressive ride earned her first place and a near-perfect score of 99. After switching, the hornless sheep Aniya rode served her so well she gave it a special name.
“I named it Twinkle, because it’s beautiful!” she said.