Ranch broncs added to Routt County Fair

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— A new twist on the familiar rodeo event of saddle bronco riding will come to the Routt County Fair on Aug. 18 and 19 when the Rocky Mountain Bronc Riders Association gallops into the fairgrounds in Hayden.

Fair Coordinator Jill Delay wrote in an email this week that a ranch bronco competition will replace the traditional ranch rodeo at the fair on Aug. 19 after the fair board was unable to meet its self-imposed deadline of Thursday to secure a cattle herd for the traditional ranch rodeo.

With area ranchers working overtime to keep their cattle on good pasture in the midst of the summer-long drought, they are reluctant to stress livestock with a fun event like the ranch rodeo.

Rocky Mountain Bronco Riders Association manager Heidi Suttee said Friday that ranch bronc riding events are catching on from Texas to Wyoming, in part because cowboys who climb on the bucking horses are free to use traditional Western saddles and many of the events are open to novices.

Unlike the saddle bronc and bareback bronc riding events sponsored by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association of America, the cowboys in ranch bronc events do not have to avoid allowing their off hand to touch the horse. In fact, they are free to take a two-handed grip on the lead rope, or to use their off hand to grip the pommel.

The Rocky Mountain Bronco Riders already were scheduled for a competition at the Routt County Fair on Aug. 18, and that’s the date for novices (women are welcome) to sign up. The association’s finals event was added to the schedule for Sunday, and that event is reserved for cowboys who have competed throughout the season.

The 2012 calendar began with four events in January, February, March and April in Texas, Suttee said, and all of the cowboys who took part in those events have been invited to come to the Routt County Fair.

Events continued into the summer with ranch bronc competitions in Craig, Encampment, Wyo., and Granby with 20-plus entrants at the typical event.

Entry fees are $50. Call Suttee at 307-327-5004.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com

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