Adventures in Rodeo: My Wild Ride | Black Hills Travel Blog

Adventures in Rodeo: My Wild Ride

  • Adventures in Rodeo: My Wild Ride
    Adventures in Rodeo: My Wild Ride
Tuesday, June 6, 2023
By : 

Summer, everyone’s favorite season of the year! School is out and the excitement and anticipation of outdoor activities begin. I have fond childhood memories of my summers, which included long, hot days in the hay fields, brandings, and the everyday chores of maintaining a cattle ranch. However, summer also meant fishing, swimming, 4-H events, street dances, parades, barbeques, and rodeos!

I grew up in a small town of 100 people, but on one day of the year, the population would grow to 500 or more! It was the Fourth of July annual celebration. One of the traditions in this small community was the annual youth rodeo. Kids age 7 to 18 would participate in events like bull riding, tie-down roping, team roping, calf scramble, barrel racing, pole bending, and even a greased pig contest. There was an event for everyone. Some participants were from seasoned rodeo families. Others, like myself, just wanted to experience the thrill of rodeo, even if it meant a face full of dirt and possibly scratches and bruises.

One summer, at the age of 10, I decided to enter the rodeo calf-riding event. The big day finally arrived. It was very hot and time for my event. My heart was pounding as I lowered myself down into the bucking chute and mounted myself on a calf no bigger than three feet tall. Thinking to myself, I can do this! As the older, teenage kids helped me wrap my hand in the bull rope, I paused again, “What am I doing? Oh my, this is crazy!” I told myself that I only have to hold on and ride for eight seconds. I nodded, signaling them to open the chute and let me have my turn. One second, two seconds, three seconds, and down I went.

Even though it wasn’t the best performance, I gave it my best try. That was my one and only time being in a rodeo! However, I continued to go watch friends and neighbors on weekends throughout the summers.

My journey with the sport evolved in 1992 when I married into a third generation rodeo family and moved to the beautiful Black Hills. My husband and I raised two daughters who found themselves completely immersed in the sport. We traveled to Wall for the Play Days Youth Rodeo when Jessica was 4 and Ashley was 7.

As the years passed, they became top contenders in the 4-H, Junior High, High School and Little Britches Rodeos. Their specialty was barrel racing and pole bending. Both events combine the horses’ athletic ability with the horsemanship skills of a rider.

Like other sports where the tricks of the trade are passed down from one generation to the next, rodeo passes down seasoned horses. This allows even the youngest participants to ride well-trained horses with confidence and trust.

This summer will be our 18th year hooking up the horse trailer and loading feed, equipment, and horses. Our family will enjoy one more season of this spectacular sport before our youngest leaves for college in the fall.

As the summer season begins, I encourage everyone to see a rodeo in action! It is an exciting way to take in the culture of the area. In most Black Hills communities, you can watch and participate in the time-honored tradition that is South Dakota's state sport.

Rodeos are very exciting to watch! There are two distinct groups, the rough stock events and the timed events. Rough stock events can be dangerous and wild. Bull riding, saddle bronc riding and bareback bronc riding are extreme, adrenaline-filled sports. The goal is to ride the bull for eight seconds. Riders may only use one hand to hang on while refraining from touching the animal with their free hand, which would result in a disqualification. The judges give each contestant a score based on specific rules.

The timed events, team roping, steer wrestling and tie-down roping, do not receive a score like the rough stock events. The places are based on the lowest time to complete a performance. Barrel racing and pole bending use an electronic “eye’ to accurately time each contestant’s run. Many of the horses used in rodeo have an outstanding bloodline of speed, grace and toughness, and an unbreakable bond with their rider. 

Black Hills & Badlands Rodeo Events | Summer 2023

Belle Fourche

Black Hills Roundup | June 30- July 4

Deadwood PBR Touring Pro | June 9-10
Days of ‘76 Rodeo, PRCA | July 23-29

Hill City
Mt. Rushmore Rodeo at Palmer Gulch | June 10 and 17, Aug. 3, 19 & 26

Hulett, WY
Hulett Rodeo | June 11-12

Fun Fact: Interior Frontier Days Rodeo is one of the oldest rodeos in South Dakota, and is situated in beautiful Badlands National Park as its backdrop.
Interior Frontier Days Rodeo | August 26

Corn Palace Stampede & Rodeo | July 11-16
Rapid City
Central States Fair Range Days Rodeo, PRCA | Aug. 18-26
Wild West Wednesdays at Hart Ranch | June 28 & August 16
Xtreme Broncs Finals | Aug 20
Black Hills Stock Show & Rodeo | Jan 26- Feb 3
Sundance, WY
Crook County Fair & Rodeo | July 22-29

Wall Celebration & Rodeo | July 6-8

Photos courtesy of Mel Schmidt from Belle Fourche, SD.