Outside the ranching world, most people equate “rodeo” with bull-riding, bucking broncos and professional cowboys competing for monetary prizes.
But for everyday cowboys there’s “ranch rodeo,” where real working cowboys demonstrate their skills at the tasks that are part of their everyday world, competing for fun and for bragging rights for the ranches where they earn their living.
Ranch rodeo contestants use the equipment and tack they’d use any day of the week on the ranch. They compete as a team representing the ranch they work for, rather than as individuals. There are top hand and top horse awards, but the main prize is for best overall ranch team.
Kansas ranch hands compete in regional events to determine which teams advance to the Kansas Championship Ranch Rodeo, held annually at the end of September in Medicine Lodge.
Typical ranch rodeo events include bronc riding, team branding, team doctoring, wild cow milking and team penning.
Bronc riding is the only event in which only one member of the team participates. For 8 seconds the cowboy tests his bronc riding skills as he tries to obtain points for the team.
In this year’s Kansas Championship, ranch hands from Haywire Cattle Co. of El Dorado won two events and placed in another to win the 2019 championship, marking their second consecutive year to win the Kansas event. The team was the reserve champion in the 2018 World Championship Ranch Rodeo.
Members of the winning team are Andy, Callie and Randy Jones; Justin and Jake Peterson; and Clint Bohnen. Justin Peterson won the bronc riding for Haywire. The team also won the wild cow milking and finished second in the branding.
The second place team was Lonesome Pine of Cedar Point, which finished first in the team penning, second in the wild cow milking and third in the stray gathering. Members of the team included Bud, Troy, Makenzie and Frank Higgs; Travis Duncan; and Bo Krueger.
Arndt Ranch & Bailey Ranch of Emporia won third, with the team consisting of Ryan and Michael Arndt; Glen Collinge; Wes and Richell Bailey; and Reid Green. Fourth place was the team of Calvin, Cody, Caden and Gina Kendall; Ty Swiler; and Josh Lilley with Beachner Bros. Livestock of Erie.
Other event winners were Stock & Felt of Redfield in the stray gathering and Rezac Land & Livestock of Onaga in the branding.
Little Tee Jay Paul, owned and ridden by Calvin Kendall with Beachner Bros. Livestock, was the top horse. The top hand was Kolby Stock with Stock & Felt.
With the top four teams from Medicine Lodge already qualified for WCRR Nov. 7-10 in Amarillo, fifth place Keith Cattle Co. & Perry Thompson Ranch of Allen and Council Grove will represent KCRR at the finals.
Team branding is an event that is based on calf branding. This event requires four team members: one on horseback, two ready to flank the calf and one ready with the branding iron. As the team member on horseback ropes the calf, the two flankers must wait until the calf is dragged across a line before they can remove the rope and brand the calf. Winners in this event are based upon the fastest time of branding the calf.
In the team doctoring event, one ranch hand on horseback ropes the head of a calf, while a teammate on horseback ropes the heels. As the calf is held with ropes from both ends, whatever “doctoring” needs to be done is accomplished.
The event that is generally known to bring the most laughter is the wild cow milking, where a team of four cowboys does whatever it takes to catch and milk a wild cow. When the cow is roped, three team members on the ground hang on the best way possible to bring the cow to a standstill so that one of the team members can collect milk in a long neck bottle and run to the finish line.
Team penning is one of the most popular events in ranch rodeos. It requires four team members to read and judge the cattle’s behavior. A good cutting horse is vital, as three cows must be cut from the herd. Team members must keep the three cattle separated from the herd and drive them to the pen. Patience and teamwork is the key in this event. The winner is determined by the fastest time.This article includes content provided by the Kansas Livestock Association.