The Duncan Banner

July 6, 2013

Waurika rodeo breaks the mold in eighth competition

Jeff Kaley/ For The Duncan Banner
The Duncan Banner

WAURIKA — On first blush, the Waurika Chamber of Commerce Ranch Rodeo ain’t your granddad’s rodeo.

On second blush, perhaps the format of a ranch rodeo is something your granddad — and even modern cowboys — would understand very well. Unlike what’s become “traditional” rodeo, a ranch rodeo is based on the type of day-by-day activities cowboys have experienced daily since the dawn of cattle ranching.

These are working cowboys who’ll compete in the eighth Waurika Ranch Rodeo on Friday and Saturday — they aren’t Hollywood or dime Western novel cowboys.

During the two 8 p.m. performances at Coyote Hills Arena, cowboys from 24 ranches will compete in five events that reflect the work day. Here’s what the crowd will see:

- Ranch bronco riding: This is a familiar event at any rodeo and is the core of the ranch rodeo format. It reinforces the relationship between the cowboy and the horse, with riders trying to stay aboard a bronco for a full 8 seconds.

- Wild cow milking: When a heifer stopped producing milk during calving season, somebody had to check the cow for milk and get it to the young’uns. In this timed event, three cowboys contain a heifer and one of them tries to get the cow to squirt milk into a long neck bottle.

- Ranch team sorting: Another timed event, this is a basic cowboy function, separating certain cows or calves from a herd.

- Team doctoring: This event simulates the process of a cowboy recognizing a sick animal, determining its treatment and roping the cow to give it medication. It’s another timed event.

- Team branding: Determining ownership remains crucial to cattle ranching, and this times event highlights another basic — the spring roundup. All the cowboys involved have to show their skills in riding, roping, sorting and handling a calf, which is then “branded” with paint or flour.

Competition at Waurika’s unique rodeo has always been intense, but the fire was turned up two years ago, when there was a change in the rodeo format. Instead of 12 teams competing once each night, the 2013 event is the third in which there are 12 teams in the Friday go-round and 12 other teams in the Saturday go-round.

The points winner must now defeat 23 other teams, with only one opportunity to score.

“This rodeo is tough,” said rodeo committee head and former Waurika Chamber President Brad Scott, who’ll be one of the announcers. “Now that we have 12 teams on the first day and 12 different teams for the second round, all 24 teams are competing against each other, and they only get one chance.

“The (competing) cowboys do like (the still-new format). It brings more competition to the rodeo, and it means a chance to win more money.”

Prize money comes from team entry fees, which are $1,000. The committee sets aside $3,000 to pay for WRCA personnel, leaving $21,000 to be split between the four highest-placing teams.

The overall champ gets $8,400, the runner-up ($6,300), the third-place team ($4,200) and the fourth-place team ($2,100).

The rodeo is a boost to Waurika’s economy, said Chamber President Jon Waid. “It’s a two-night event, and a small percentage of the cowboys will want to stay over night, so they have to be accommodated,” he said.

“People will come into town to buy gas, to eat and maybe do some shopping.”

Sanctioned by the Working Ranch Cowboys Association, the overall winner of the Waurika Ranch Rodeo qualifies to participate in the WRCA World Championship, which is Nov. 7-10, in Amarillo, Texas.