Ranch Rodeo Rider

A rider in last year’s Mountain High Bronc and Bulls ranch rodeo bronc competition hangs onto the lead rope with one hand and his lariat with the other. He’s riding his ranch saddle, too. The rules for ranch rodeos are different than PRCA Rodeos like Chief Joseph Days.

This year’s Bowlby Bash, previously known as Summerfest, previously known as the Bowlby Bash includes a number of events in downtown Enterprise. On June 22 Main Street will offer a soap-box derby race, an old-fashioned carnival for kids, a pie eating contest, a water balloon toss and, of course, a parade, and lots of good food and good fun on Main Street and beyond.

Just to the north, at the fairgrounds arena, you’ll find western action galore at the 15th annual Mountain High Broncs and Bulls, featuring a Western States Ranch Rodeo Association championship-level bronc event, bull riding, a wild horse race, and, of course, mutton-busting. Entertainment includes Bull Poker and “$100 the hard way.” Rodeo entertainer Rob Johnston is on tap to provide wholesome family entertainment, as well as being the man-in-the-barrel that the bulls love to hate.

The show starts at 5 PM. And this year admission is free. “We wanted to make sure that seniors and families could all enjoy this great event,” said organizer and rodeo announcer Lee Daggett. This year there will be a jumbo-tron for the audience to watch, complete with instant replay. And if you miss the live event, you can catch the action on TV in the near future. “SWX Sports out of Seattle will be filming the events for the nationally-televised Cowboy Channel,” Daggett said.

The 2019 Mountain High Broncs and Bulls event promises to be more exciting than ever. “We have four national ranch bronc-riding champions scheduled to compete,” Daggett said. “They include reigning WSRRA champion Chase Thrall, past world champ Mike McBeth of Emmet Idaho, and top riders Travis Utse and Justin Quint.”

Thrall is a 32-year old Nevada cowboy, who, like all ranch rodeo contestants, actually works on a ranch. “My boss was very understanding, and gave me time to go to the rodeos,” Thrall said in an interview for Rodeo News last year. “….my wife made it possible by doing most of the driving. Sometimes she’d drive all night so I could sleep. Then we’d pull into the ranch and I’d jump out, grab a horse, and go check cows or water or something.”

Count local buckaroos in too. They’ll include Riley Warnock of Imnaha, an up-and coming force in Ranch Rodeo. Robby DeVore will be riding too. DeVore was seriously injured in last year’s Haines rodeo when his bronc smashed a hoof into his head as he finished his ride. “He’s the comeback kid,” Daggett said. “We’ll all be rooting for him.”

Bronc riding in Ranch Rodeo events is a little different than more conventional PRCA rodeos. Among other differences, in Ranch Rodeo, contestants ride their regular ranch saddles and are allowed to hold onto the bronc lead rope with one hand and their saddle or lariat with the other. This is neither as tame nor as simple as it sounds. There’s plenty of air under these horses, and lots of spring. This year, the bucking horses will likely be provided by Tri-State Rodeo Company, run by Debbie Scott and Bonnie Rasmussen of Burns, Oregon. Rassmussen is a Wallowa County native. So providing stock for the Mountain High Broncs and Bulls is something she especially looks forward to. Tri-State is one of the only women-owned rodeo stock companies in the business.

Yes, there will be bulls, provided by Wyatt Brothers Bucking Bulls of Bonners Ferry, Idaho. In addition to traditional bull riding, the somewhat insane “$100 the Hard Way” event will return, offering those brave or foolish enough the opportunity to pluck a $100 bill off the horns of a not-very-happy bull who is running loose in the arena. There will also be a game of “Bull Poker,” in which five bull and bronc riders see who can outlast the bull while sitting at a card table. (Hint—bulls seldom play cards. They don’t sit at tables. They have other ways of winning the hand—or maybe the hoof.)

The real winners, though, will be the audience. This year’s Mountain High Broncs and Bulls looks to be the best yet.

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