The town of Dodge City and Western State Bank Expo Center plays host to the Young Guns Rodeo Series. According to one of the founders, Scott Vander Hamm, what started out as a small gymkhana to help kids keep roping and riding over the winter months has blossomed into a huge event that sports over 225 contestants in a plethora of events. As you can tell from the photo, there is a herd of them. In its mission statement, Young Guns has the purpose to promote and provide standardized timed events for the young people of Kansas and surrounding areas. Contestant categories include 6 and under through 18 years of age.
The series includes a two-rodeo weekend in October, same in November, same in January, and two weekends in February including a finals on February 19th and 21st. Saddles and prizes are awarded at the conclusion of the event. Coloradans from Holly, Lamar, Wiley, Wetmore, Wild Horse, Kim, Boone, Rocky Ford, Penrose, Elbert, Ordway, La Junta, Trinidad, Swink, and other towns cross the state line to compete in the sport they love. New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and Nebraska are also well represented. Having rodeos in the winter can be somewhat of a challenge. The weather plays a big part in the enjoyment and smoothness of the event, as well as the travel that many people do to attend. Granted the competitions were held in the indoor arena, but warming horses up, feeding and caring for horses, getting to and from the arena, can be challenging in adverse weather conditions.
The event leaders after 6 rodeos are as follows: Cayhill Sharon of Ordway leads the 6 and under Boys Goat Untying and Pole Bending; Braylin Barratt(6 and under) of La Junta is 2nd in the Barrels, 4th in the Goat Untying, and 2nd in the Pole Bending; Wesley Lammers (7-10yrs) of Elbert is 1st in the Boys Barrels, 2nd in the Goat Tying; Slade Lord (7-10 yrs) of Lamar is 4th in Boys Barrels; Bristyl Barratt of La Junta is setting 1st in the 7-10 Girls Goat Tying and 3rd in the Poles, Trinity Ortiz of Swink is 2nd in the Poles for 7-10 year-old girls; 11-14 Boys Goat tying has Waitley Sharon in 1st and brother, Traven Sharon, in 2nd. In the oldest division of 15-18 years old, Sage Bader of Kim is setting 2nd in the Team Roping heading, Brayden Fillmore of Penrose is setting 3rd. Wyatt Wollert of Wiley is setting 4th in the 15-18 year old tie-down roping. The Colorado boys hold the top four spots in the steer breakaway event. First is Sage Bader, 2nd is Brandt Walton of Trinidad, 3rd is Brayden Fillmore, and 4th is Braxton Morgan of Elbert.
The die-hard cowboys and cowgirls continue to keep their horses in shape and hone their rodeo skills despite the white stuff on the ground and freezing temperatures. Some can get pretty creative with roping dummies, tying dummies, and searching for an indoor arena to just ride. I admire their dedication to the sport. Happy Trails.