Hang on, have fun the theme at fair | SteamboatToday.com

Hang on, have fun the theme at fair

Christian Planansky, 6, tries to hang on to his lamb during Saturday's mutton bustin' competition at the Routt County Fair. Christian was successful at hanging on, at least until his lamb crashed into a fence.

— Every day is a day for the animals at the Routt County Fair, with lambs and hogs dragging their young "masters" around the showmanship ring, cattle being obsessively washed and rabbits living the high life.

Saturday's youth rodeo events built on that theme, but added a twist as the lambs, calves and horses deployed into the fair rodeo ring dominated the day, bucking their wide-eyed riders time after time.

Those results often brought grimaces from the young cowboys and cowgirls and occasionally brought tears, all before eventual wide smiles and loud tales.

The Planansky family was right in the thick of it, the youngest two of the family's five boys trying their hands at the morning's events.

Joe Planansky, 9, took his shot at calf riding, launching from the rodeo bucking chutes and into the ring.

The event was one he'd been looking forward to, though the only thing he'd done in the way of training was try to hang on to a friend's back one day earlier this summer on a trampoline.

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He made it further than many of his contemporaries Saturday, but as he and his calf shot toward the middle of the ring, the calf bucked up and Joe bucked off.

He hit the dirt hard and didn't complete a six-second ride, but when he emerged, the bruises were only physical. His pride was very much intact.

"It was quite challenging, but I had fun," he said. “When I got flung off, I hit the ground pretty hard. It hurt my back at first, but I got up and walked back and started feeling better."

His younger brother, Christian Planansky, 6 years old, had a similar experience in the mutton busting.

"Mutton Bustin’," for the city slickers out there, is rodeo talk for "lamb riding," but Saturday, there was a lot more "bustin'" than "riding."

When released from the small chute, most lambs made a break for freedom and left their preschool-aged riders in the dust.

Planansky finally won a match for humanity, at least kind of.

He held on to his lamb longer thanks to his strict adherence to the most basic of advice.

"I squeezed on his head," he said.

The lamb wasn't a willing accomplice, and when it couldn't buck Christian, it got rid of him another way: by running squarely into the fence at the end of the arena.

Christian finally let go, and tears wet his cheeks.

That only lasted a moment, however.

As it turns out, no matter how long you hang on at the Routt County Fair rodeo events, the pain is temporary, and the glory is forever.

"I cried a little," Christian said, "but it didn't hurt for too long."

Rodeo events continue at the fair starting at 11 a.m. with Mutton Bustin'.

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @JReich9