A ride of a lifetime
But there was one ride the thick crowd will all be talking about, and it featured a 7-year-old named Aaron Higgins.
In the hoot-and-hollerin’ event called mutton busting, Higgins rode his sheep from the gate to the exit and would have gone all the way to Dotsero, had the rodeo handlers not yanked the second grader from his wooly ride.
“He won last year too on a Friday night. It must be his night,” said his mother, Tricia. Aaron’s dad, Brad, is head of this year’s rodeo committee.
Aaron, who’s missing a few teeth, described what it took to be a two-time winner, including the fantastic 92-point ride Friday.
“I hold on to the wool,” he said.
And what if he falls?
“It hurts,” he explained. But he wouldn’t know. Aaron got the only standing ovation all night after his glory ride.
Other newcomers also had fine performances at the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association event, the 13th year the Eagle rodeo has had such a label. Rookie bareback rider Sam Nordick is a collegiate wrangler in Laramie, Wyo., and started riding when he was 9 in the little britches rodeo circuit. Now, he competes for his college team and takes the summers off to hit the Jack Daniels Circuit in Colorado and Wyoming.
“It was pretty big business back then,” said Nordick, who scored 71 points and finished third for the day. “I get a lot of support from the older guys. They help you ride the rodeos day in and day out. They just treat me like one of the guys and it’s a pretty interesting tour.”
Nordick has surely taken his lumps. A 4th of July ride in Crawford, Neb., saw Nordick flattened by a horse named Checkers. But he has tutors, like this year’s world champion Lan Lageunesse of Morgan, Utah. Lageunesse is a talent Eagle’s rodeo attracted by doubling its prize money to $4,000 this year.
“I think this rodeo is definitely on its way,” said Lageunesse, who scored a 72 after a decent, but not spectacular, ride. “It’s one of the better rodeos out here on this date.”
Friday, local firemen were honored by the county commissioners before the opening event. The rain they longed for all summer came just as the rodeo started, but tapered off, much to the disappointment of Smokey the Bear, who also was on hand. County commissioner Michael Gallagher said it best, telling the crowd, “Lord, it’s not enough yet, but we’re greatful.”
The same could be said of Friday’s rodeo, with today’s show wrapping up the 63rd annual event.
Results for Friday’s action:
Carr’s Andrew Martin put in a 8.4-second performance to win Friday’s show. But it’s Dustin Raupe’s 18.2 second total on two rides that has the Peyton resident ahead in the overall. Raupe put in a 9.1, good enough for third place, just behind Chris Downey of Cheyenne, Wyo., with an 8.9.
Chris Timberman from Casper, Wyo., rode Snake Eyes for a score of 77 to win Friday’s event. Still, it’s Mark Garrett’s 81 on Thursday that’s leads the overall.
Jump off your horse and bring a steer to its side in 3.9 seconds. Sound impossible? Keenesburg’s Justin Jackson did it Friday to take home the prize. Brighton’s Todd Suhn leads the overall with a 10.7 on two rides.
Dan Etbauer of Goodwill, Okla., poured in a 77-point ride on Call Waiting Friday to win the single event and take the lead in the overall, just one point ahead of J.W. McCuistion’s fine ride on Wednesday.
Oh how those Scheller boys can fly. Brothers Clint and Mark Scheller of Ault tied up their calf in 6.4 seconds, just 0.1 second ahead of Ty Blasingame of Ramah and Lance Allen of Cheyenne, Wyo. Ace Spratt of Lysite, Wyo., put in a time of 7.1 to take the overall lead of 14.4. His hazer friday was Mike Christnick of Wheatland, Wyo.
Cheri Scrivner’s time of 16.5 still stands in the overall, but Friday, Temecula, Calif.’s Kristin Weaver put in a time of 17.01 to tie four-time world champion Kristie Peterson, of Elbert, for second place.
Jason Legler rode last, but finished first. Legler, of Eaton, is ranked among the best in the world and showed why, taking the overall lead with an 81 point show Friday. Legler rode Toy Tiger like a stuffed animal, sending the weathered crowd home on a good note.
The PRCA rodeo concludes today at 7 p.m. at the Eagle County Fairgrounds. Tickets are $12 for adults, $5 for children (6-12) and $8 for seniors.