There is No “I” in Rodeo
Published on Feb. 8, 2020
Students at the University of Wyoming (UW) began spring semester last week after a month-long Christmas break. Members of the rodeo team returned to their usual agenda with the start of classes: school first, positively represent UW and preparing themselves and horses to win. These expectations are met because of the willingness the team has to help each other.
Like several of his teammates Austin Hurlburt joined the rodeo program this fall after two years at a junior college. Hurlburt, a College National Finals Rodeo qualifier, appreciates the atmosphere at UW.
“Practicing together every day and helping each other get better is what makes the team great,” said Hurlburt, who is currently sitting fifth in the region for both tiedown and heeling.
The dynamic of togetherness is created by more than just teammates, it relies on the animal the sport grew from: the horse.
Cowboys and cowgirls develop a bond with their horses built in trust. They are attentive to wellbeing of their horse and work with them – not against them. They treat horses with the same compassion as their teammates.
The love for horses shared by everyone involved in rodeo impacts the sport beyond just using the animals to compete. Horses create a special kind of comradery in the rodeo community.
People are quick to let someone needing a mount use theirs and advice on horsemanship is shared between one another for no reason other than to help the next generation of cowpokes grow.
Lakken Bice is a senior on the rodeo team competing in the barrel racing and has been involved with horses her whole life.
“Our team has an extremely low tolerance for mistreating horses, like we do one another. I think there is a bold line between making a horse do something verses asking. On our team it’s expected to be on the right side of that line,” said Bice, who was the champion barrel racer at the Colorado State Rodeo last spring. “The skills we practice reflect at the college rodeos in a really positive way. We definitely view our horses as partners, not tools.”
UW rodeo is currently winning the region fall rodeos, into spring rodeos the region for the men, women and both individual all arounds.