Black Hills Folk Stories: I am a rodeo pickup man | Black Hills Travel Blog

Black Hills Folk Stories: I am a rodeo pickup man

By : 
Mat Peters

At the Black Hills Stock Show Professional Saddle Bronc Match in Rapid City, all eyes are on the bucking chute—anxiously awaiting that 8-second whistle. The crowd claps and cheers the cowboy"s performance, all the while oblivious to the unspoken heroes in the arena—the pickup men. In a rodeo, the pickup man is tasked with rescuing the cowboy after bronc or bareback rough stock events, keeping the animals safe, efficiently clearing the arena, and generally making themselves useful on horseback. Shayne Porch is a pickup man. He"s also a rancher, father, husband, and proud South Dakotan. Here is his story.

Shayne Porch is a pickup man for the Black Hills Stock Show Professional Saddle Bronc Match, seen here gathering his tools of the trade next to his horse, Sachett. Photo courtesy of Heidi Porch

I’m just a guy that when the buckin’ horses are out and when the whistle blows you gotta go make sure the cowboys are safe, then make sure the horses are safe. You’re the last on the list.

South Dakota is the greatest place to live. The people here are easy to get along with, they are friendly and they’ll give you a lending hand if they can.

Rodeo is about the adrenaline rush of actually doing it and meeting people and people appreciating what you do. I ain’t in it for the money.

I’ve been kicked a few times and stepped on plenty of times, nothing serious at all, I was in the hospital one time and it wasn’t any big deal.

People’s lives count on you doing your job, there’s some tension there but if you know what you’re doing, it usually works.

I can be who I am. I don’t have an 8-5. Ranching won’t make you rich but you can be comfortable. I have my freedom.

In the life I’ve chosen you don’t get a paycheck day-to-day or hourly. When you sell your cattle on a given day that’s all you make and sometimes you don’t make anything. It’s a good life but if the market is bad you gotta be ready to take what you get and hopefully go on. There’s nothing I can do about it. Hopefully the bankers feel that way too.

People get screwed up in rodeo. It happens. Even the good guys get hurt. It’s just a way of life.

Rodeos are supposed to have insurance but I wouldn’t count on it. I might end up toothless.

This nasty scar on my chin? Living the wild life. Got in a bar fight and got hit. Split her wide open. The guy that did it said he’d haul me to the hospital to get it stitched, but I thought ‘na, I ain’t doing that’.  We’re still buds. Actually he’s about one of my best friends anymore.

My girls stole my heart. I know they’ll be cowgirls someday. I always said I wanted a boy but these two girls of mine are just as much fun as any boy, I guarantee you that.

My father taught me to respect people, to treat them the way you want to be treated and the general life of being a rancher.


*Thank you, Shayne for taking the time to become entry #1 into our new series, "Black Hills Folk Stories". This series introduces you to some of the unique faces that call the Black Hills home. Do you know someone that Black Hills visitors would enjoy reading about? Let us know by sending me a message in the "email this author" link below. 


About the Author

Mat is a Black Hills native. Growing up just outside of Hill City, his fondest memories involve exploring his Black Hills backyard with his black lab Dodger. Colorado called his name after high school so he moved to the Western Slope where he earned his BA in Mass Communication and raced for the mountain and road cycling programs at Colorado Mesa University. As is the case with countless others, the Black Hills pulled him back in. He recently left the brown cloud of Denver to return home where he works for Black Hills, Badlands & Lakes Association. In his spare time, Mat enjoys pedaling bicycles, playing music, cooking, hiking and trying to be a climber.

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