Family atmosphere backstage at rodeo
EAGLE – Wednesday may have been family night at the Eagle County Rodeo, but the feeling was the same Thursday. And chances are, it will be the same when the cowboys compete tonight.Make no mistake, the Eagle’s rodeo is quite competitive with some of the best riders and ropers from around the world vying for large cash purses. But from behind the bucking chutes emerges a friendly picture.Bareback riders help each other with their saddles, joke around and even keep an eye on a rider’s little kids.”I enjoy helping my friends,” said Chad Klein, who stuck around long after his eight seconds on a horse. “I like seeing all my friends at the rodeo and talking about their rides. If they get bucked off, I laugh at them. And if I get bucked off, they laugh at me.”
And for a younger rider like Klein, it’s a dream come true to be on the same start list as older legends like Marvin Garrett.”He’s won worlds five times. He’s in the (Rodeo) Hall of Fame. I watched him on TV as a little kid, and it’s just an awesome thing to be able to compete and be friends with one of your heroes,” Klein said. “Not many kids get to do that.”Garrett, who stuck around after his run to aid some of his bronc-riding friends, is just as excited to compete with those who were mutton busting when he was winning titles. “It’s pretty cool,” Garrett said. “There are guys who have been to my schools and are doing really well, and it’s a real joy to be rodeoing with them and still be competitive.”And it’s the familiarity that Garrett misses during the offseason.”When you go home and slow down, you miss the friends you know and the things you do and the pranks you pull on each other,” he said.But there’s still plenty of competitive drive in Garrett.”The reason I’m still doing it is because I love to ride bucking horses,” Garrett said. “Hopefully, (my ride) will catapult me to another (National Finals Rodeo) and another World Championships. That’s what I’m after. I feel real thankful. I’ve had a few accidents that could have gone the other way.”
Sandvick trioWhile Larry Sandvick got in a great ride, his two sons, Wyatt and Dylan, got a glimpse through the fence.”The boys are rodeoing with me this week,” Sandvick said. “I was glad they were able to get in on the mutton busting. That quieted them down a little bit. They were mad they missed it at Dodge City, (Kan.,) last night.”After their father’s ride, Dylan and Wyatt rode sheep, but with their mini-saddles.”They want to ride everything,” Sandvick said.Sandvick was anything but worried about his 5- and 7-year-old kids hanging out in the bucking chutes.
“It’s awesome. I can come here with just the boys by myself and be busy trying to ride a bucking horse and there’s always somebody back here who has a little brother or remembers being the little cowboy behind the chute,” Sandvick said. “They’ll help you take care of them and they’ll be friends. And they might wander off with them to get an ice cream cone or something. That’s the rodeo atmosphere that will never be changed.”And Sandvick was also there to give a helping hand to some riders.”That’s the rodeo way. We compete against each other, but we help each other as much as possible to fix whatever is wrong. I have a leather business, so I end up helping guys fix a lot of things, and some things I don’t even know about, but I’ll learn as I’m doing it. That’s the great camaraderie of rodeo. ‘I will help you. You will help me.’ It’s a great atmosphere for the little ones to learn rather than fighting about toys in the back of the pickup truck.”As some of the steer wrestlers made their way out into the ring, Wyatt hopped on his bareback rigging and pretended to ride.Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail, Colorado
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