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Rediscovering rodeo

By: Jim Linsdau News Messenger/Placer Herald Sports Editor
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By Jim Linsdau News Messenger Sports Editor It can be said that rodeo is a live and well in the USA, and certainly in Lincoln. The California High School Rodeo Association District 1 and District 3 put their skills on the line in the Fall Classic. It was held last weekend at the Lincoln Rodeo Grounds and included a couple hundred young cowboys and cowgirls, and a whole lot of volunteers. Although the CHSRA has “high school” in its name, it’s not a program of any high school. It’s made up of high school students from schools throughout each district, and there are nine districts in the state. And the contestants are separated into junior and senior divisions. I’ll not attempt to explain the structure here, as I am not an expert on CHSRA. But, there are experts who I hope will continue to provide The News Messenger with updates on the “Thundering Three,” as District 3 refers to itself. Although I am no stranger to rodeo, I hadn’t been to one in a long time. When growing up, I had friends who competed in rodeos, but I had never attended one made up of kids 18 and younger. For anyone who has competed in high school sports, I can say there is none quite like rodeo. With the exception of hunting, I can’t think of another that involves animals. Of course, animals are a big part of rodeo. For those who take issue with the use of animals in rodeo, I can honestly say none were hurt in all that I witnessed this past weekend. I cannot say that about the contestants. In fact, a little research on rodeo shows where the animals receive far greater care than do the cowboys and cowgirls. Yes, there were a few calves roped and flanked (wrestled to the ground). But following each successful tie downs, all jumped up and trotted safely into a pen. That wasn’t always the case for those contestants who rode on the backs of a bucking horse or bull. The way some of those cowboys were tossed into the air and then went into freefall was fascinating at best, and frightening at worst. And when it came to the bulls, a hard landing was only the first part. Then it was a matter of getting quickly out of the way of an angry bull. “I used to be a little bit scared, but I didn’t show anyone,” said District 3 bull rider Tyler Stueve from Marysville, describing his early years as a bull rider. “I know how dangerous it is and I respect it, so it really doesn’t scare me anymore.” There was one young man hurt bad enough to take to the hospital. But he was released after a couple hours and returned to the rodeo to compete again. For those who think the young aren’t made of as stern of stuff as those of an earlier generation, go to next month’s District 3 rodeo, Nov. 5-6. The cowgirls may not get on the bulls and bucking broncos, but the horsemanship they demonstrate is beyond amazing. Their horses are extremely well trained, and cared for. In fact, when a typical high school athlete takes a shower and goes home after a game, the rodeo athlete first looks after his or her horse. And that includes cleaning the horse trailer as well. Rodeo may not be for everyone, but for these rodeo athletes it may very well be everything.