KCCM reporters Brigid Shea and John Ydstie present a sound portrait on the National High School Rodeo finals in West Fargo, North Dakota. The report includes various interviews and highlights of the week-long competition with some of the best young cowboys and cowgirls in the world.
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The National High School Rodeo is the largest rodeo in the world. It involves over twelve hundred participants from the United States and Canada who compete as individuals and teams for $28,000 worth of prizes and the satisfaction of knowing the the best young cowboys and cowgirls in the world. This Rodeo is a three-ring circus with bronc riding pole bending calf roping and other events going on simultaneously in front of the grandstand their parents and fans dressed in cowboy hats and Boots cheer for Cowboys with names like Cody buck and Rocky.Thank you so much time and my husband have always been in with rodeos and our children are more or less following what we have done. It's just our fun. The thing we love will be here that I wouldn't some City Slicker down. We just left from a rodeo Friday night and drove 28 hours to get here from Big Springs, Texas. This has got to be the stiffest competition. There's a lot of really compared to people here and really good people. There's a feeling of competition here life in no other Rodeo open rodeo at home that that you can give. I have a son 16 year old Buck Harris that's in the calf roping and he's in the Team Roping.And he hasn't done too. Well, he'd be a national champion and be recognized and you'd get a saddle. Yeah belt buckle from where we're at. I figure we'll spend about $1,200 time. We get home. It's worth it to me to see them. It's it's actually an honor for him just to get to qualify to come here. I feel like I can compete with the kids on this scale because it's the best young Cowboys in the world to give you a pair of blue bell ringer overall just to help you out a lot of are so we have first dating Arena place. We're going to give him a set of Bluebell Wranglers.You talk about courage. One of the many things the rodeo promises and delivers is the feeling of ever-present danger It's Not Unusual to see Cowboys in casts or on crutches. And the announcer is full of stories of how this Cowboy or that road with an injured foot or hand Brad Johnson representative of the American Quarter Horse Association and a former bull rider tells about the appeal of rodeo in spite of or maybe because of the danger. Well, I think I think the risk involved certainly adds to the excitement into the challenge. I don't think there's any question about it. I think a lot of people look for a little bit of danger and some of the things that they do whether they're skydiving or riding dirt bikes or whatever but this is maybe a little more challenging and little more dangerous than some these Cowboys around here that you'll see limping around there. Just waiting for the next chance to get get back on a bull or a horse and you can believe it Cody Lambert of Ruidoso New Mexico is one of the young men who risks his health riding buckingWas involved he once broke his wrist while riding a bull but he's still at it. I found him behind the arena shoots for other young Cowboys were nervously checking equipment and putting on chaps and Spurs in preparation for their own rides all this under the red-eyed and belligerent gaze of the waiting Bulls. Cody had just been thrown by a bull and I asked him why he bothered to get on in the first place. Well, my mother makes me I bet she probably has another idea she used to but she doesn't anymore worry about it that much tell me what goes through your mind when you get ready to ride one of those bulls and what do I notice before you ride? You were walking around doing calisthenics sort of look like you're getting pumped up what's going through your mind. That's just main thing is you want to get pumped up and you want to justYou really just crave and I really want them to Buck and wanting to ride them it just before you ride. You just want to get pumped up and just think about all the things that you want to do. Not think about what you don't want to do. Like what I did do he try to find out you know, how the balcony. How bad they are dried. Well, you've sort of decided that you're going to keep rodeoing then as long as you can you're going to make your living at this. Yes. I'm pretty well decided about it. It's a pretty tough life. So I mean you say you just drove up here 28 hours from Texas and you're gonna drive back tomorrow or at the end of the week when when this is done, isn't that pretty rough life? Yeah, it is. We got five of us driving its it is pretty tough. But there's people who go to work every day that just to make a living at something. They don't enjoy even if you make a living at something you enjoy. I think it's worth it. Right one day you'll eat chicken the next day you'll eat the feathers. It's sort of athletes gamble. That's what you call it. You just get to write you do. It wants and you know, like I just crave them. I like to get on Cody Lambert from New Mexico on the New Mexico National High School Rodeo team. Thanks. Again. God created bosy were meant for me to be road, but Cowboys seen that it was a challenge and so they met it and and they get a certain amount of accomplishment when they can ride a bull there's a certain amount of danger and anytime a man conquers danger. He gets that self-satisfaction internal drive to do that type of thing. Bob. Donaldson is a rodeo clown bullfighter and probably faces more danger than anyone in the rodeo, although his face is painted and he's dressed in traditional clown costume. One of a new breed of clowns who sees his job as fighting bulls not being funny. When a Cowboy is thrown he must distract the ball until the Fallen Rider can get away and if a cowboy gets Tangled in the bull rope, he must go in and help free him Donaldson is a frustrated football player. His parents wouldn't let him play in high school because they thought he might be injured. So when he was old enough he decided to take up a nice safe sport, like will fight it's a challenge. You know, number one. It's a challenge and then number two. I feel it's a definite asset when a Cowboy is in a storm. He's bold might be wanting to get him down her he's hung up. You see him in that position while I feel I get a say Some satisfaction out of being able to help somebody that's in a worse situation than Iron Man. How do you prepare yourself? We're standing right now in the area behind the shoots that and the saddle bronc riding is going on right now in the next event is bull riding. It's kind of like preparing yourself for battle. You know that you're going to have to go out there and do something and sometimes it can get dangerous. But you just prepare yourself that ain't no way that you're going to be the one that's taking the hook and you're going to be able to go in and handle any type of situation that comes up and do it well and get out of there. It's the fact that you've got to keep picturing yourself positive. Thank you very much. Bob Donaldson whose rodeo clown bullfighter at the National High School Rodeo finals in West Fargo. He's from Golden, Colorado and good luck in your bullfighting this morning. Okay. Thank you, John. Well, the rodeo is dangerous for human beings some also complain of inhumane treatment of the rodeo animals in the saddle bronc and bull riding competition. The animals are made to Buck but according to Brad Johnson the representative of the American Quarter Horse Association. The animals are not being mistreated the horses in the Indies Rodeo strings are extremely well cared for and well fed. They work about eight seconds a day and most of these horses that they weren't in a string like this. They'd been a dog food can hear why is that because they're not good for anything else they're here because all they'll do is Buck. They can't be made any riding horses the Stock Contractors that own these animals and haul them around the country from Rodeo to Rodeo have a tremendous investment in these animals, and certainly they can't afford to do anything that's going to be abusive or or hazardous to these animals. I look at you. I see him pull over. Build or something around the back of the bucking Broncos and I wonder what it is that that belt. Does that makes the horse Buck? Well, the flying stance just simply puts pressure essentially around around their abdomen in other words. It would be like pulling a belt tied around your stomach. It's not a painful thing. It's something that's more of a minor annoyance and it helps them to Buck harder. And of course that makes rivetti rodeo and allows these Cowboys to get a better ride out of the stock great 15 year old sophomore out of Florida from Lithia Florida girls are involved in the rodeo to and events like barrel racing and don't time. And while the girls may be able to handle a horse as well as a boy the girl still giggle when the boys walked by and the boys chew their snuff and Swagger's they try to live up to the image of the strong silent Cowboy, but the girls have an image to live up to also and so an important part of the rodeo is the queen competition National Queen chairperson, Connie retinas and local coordinator Roxanne Burnside explain what they look for in a rodeo queen candidate. We're looking for modeling ability speaking ability General appearance and dress and then they were judging photogenic. So the girls brought with them to photos and we took a photo of them here from the rodeo photographer. They were judged in for jennex and then each day each during just before the beginning of each performance are judged in their grand entry. And this is a writing ability their horsemanship ability the rapport with their crowd and their appearance are Queens are required to be properly dressed at all times which includes of course hats banners. Crowns and boots and adds Beauty to the rodeo. There's there is a lot of neat neat things about a rodeo but it adds Beauty to it and color the Queen's are something that people come to see so they can see a little bit of pretty things. Tell me your name and where you're a queen from Kathy Frehley and I'm a national Point National queen of all the Queens. This is the highest you can go. Yes, ma'am being a super radio audience what we can't see what you're wearing described him. You told your outfit and and how much of it you made yourself or where you got it. Oh, it's just a western long sleeve shirt and polyester Knit pants with a hat. And usually I wear scarf gloves and matching boots. Now if you neglected to mention the fact that that your boots Gloves and your hand are all of our bright orange. Did I haven't seen colors like this very often have to look pretty hard to find you usually buy a pair of old boots or and white gloves and dime to whatever color you'd like to match her outfit, don't you do yes, ma'am. Do you like wearing this kind of clothing? Well, I do yes, but then sometimes I just wish I could wear a regular jeans like everyone else. Sometimes it's a lot cooler you feel a little silly sometimes in this stuff not at rodeos because everyone's dressed that way so you don't wear it outside of rodent know why don't we Damon Rogers is from San Saba, Texas and he's in the National High School Rodeo this year right now helping behind the shoots with getting the cowboy all the tax. They need to get on their animals Damon. Are you Cowboy yourself? Yes, sir. I go in the summer. How old are you? 13 I've been riding since what are you doing? Yes, I would think that if I was standing right here, I would have to have a very good reason for Turn it to do it challenge and my dad did it don't get on my rope and stuff like that rope. Now I used to be. All right, so I got my smart back. Yeah what I got my smarts back my brains. You got your brains back and you decided it wasn't for you. I don't want to do event that you would like like to do best email. Do you dream of someday making your living in a professional Raymond you plan on it? It's no dream. So if sometimes it is, sometimes they offer that they're yeah, they're hard just can't wait to get out of high school. I was raised on Highway almost Hairnet everywhere there was a certain place of where I'm going to go next. Just hide your Tails here. There you like that kind of Life. Yeah. I got fiddle feet high was done to just distance. They all hid the money is fees. They took my dog traveling took my time to my sweet wife watch the sky. Sweet rounders they all wish you luck when the know you're in a jam, but you money's riding on the boat. He don't give a damn. There's a shows and all the cities and cities turn your heart play. It takes all the man can muster just try it away the songs. I'm used to hearing ain't the kind that you'd box plays my mom watch the it's Mile in the sky. Now, I've always loved the riding. There ain't nothing quite the same and another year may bring but there's a magpie on a bench real just calling out my name and he calls me home watch the it smiling sky. Prairie love sweet it's sweet.