CALLING ALL BUCKAROOS, cowboys and cowgirls! It’s time to saddle up and join our local Peninsula Junior Rodeo Association! Dream of riding a bucking bronc or lassoing a steer? How about tie a ribbon on the tail of a goat? Compete in barrel or pole bending events?
PJRA is for boys and girls ages 19 & under. That’s right, even your toddler can compete in some fun events just for your little buckaroo ages 5 & under. The Pee Wee division is ages 2-8, junior ages 9-13 and at 14, kids join the senior division. Children compete at the age they were on Jan. 1.
I met Jennifer Bond years ago through her work with the Clallam Conservation District, and horses. Her daughter Lillian Bond is in 8th grade in the Sequim School District and she is gung-ho for junior rodeo competitions. She placed first in her age division at the Northwest Junior Rodeo Association state finals last year, and is currently in first place first place overall as a junior competing in girls breakaway roping for Washington State High School Rodeo Association.
Lillian is so dedicated to the sport, she convinced her parents to let her attend Sequim School District’s Dungeness Virtual School so she’d have ample time during the day to ride enough to keep horses in top condition throughout the year, and it allows her to travel to junior rodeo events throughout Washington and Oregon.
After I shared with Jennifer that Lillian said, “I have the most loving and supportive parent’s ever,” she added, “really, Wes Bond is the best rodeo dad ever!”
To further the notion junior rodeo is a family affair current PJRA President Joe Fors described junior rodeo as a real confidence builder for youths. Joe said he and his wife Kendra have a very busy family with three very active kids. They found with all of the other sports they involved their kids in they were constantly going in different directions to make all of the events and games, and life got very chaotic. He said with junior rodeo, “it’s different.”
“In rodeo, we practice together as a family, travel together as a family and compete together as a family. Our time together is so valued and we enjoy the sport of rodeo so much, that we have cut many of the other activities out of our life to focus on our time together, our church and rodeo,” he said.
Kenzie, 10, competes in barrels, poles and goat tying. Dad said her favorite event is poles, a race on horseback where the horse and rider team weave through a series of poles in a straight line for time. He added “she rides a fast little paint pony named Goldie and the two have a lot of fun together.”
Son, Henry, 9, competes in calf riding, poles, dummy roping, and goat tying. His favorite event is calf riding, the peewee version of bull riding. In his other events, he rides a red roan horse named Waylon who is his best buddy.
Youngest, Donnie, 7, competes in dummy roping, goat tail undecorating and the cal-stake race. This year, he has aged up into the next age level and will replace the cal-stake race with calf riding. Dad said Donnie’s favorite event is goat tail undecorating, an event where the rider and his horse race to the middle of the arena where a goat is held on a leash and has a ribbon tied on to its tail. The rider jumps off of his running horse, runs to the goat, and pulls the ribbon off the tail for time. This year, Donnie will be riding a palomino miniature pony named Bob. The two are a very cute pair.
In addition, said Joe, “We have gained a huge family within the sport of rodeo. Our youngest son Donnie, had a cheering section at every rodeo last year that made signs and banners for him at every rodeo we went to. Most of these people we had never met, but they saw a small 6-year-old boy and went above and beyond to cheer him on and make him feel loved by the crowd.”
He said when their daughter started competing she was nervous and a bit overwhelmed by the big rodeo events. A group of older girls took her under their wing, encouraged her, helped to teach her, and were responsible for her overcoming her fears. The families of these girls have become of our dearest friends.
“For Henry, getting on a bucking calf for the first time was scary, but he is a brave boy,” said Joe. “All of the dads and other boys that were also competing in the roughstock events helped him at every step of the way and he has gained some great friends that he will compete with for years to come. The point is, rodeo is a family of people that encourage, support, help each other.”
Joe feels rodeo is not like other sports, there is something different taking place. He said “it’s a group of supportive and loving families, with children who are learning to keep animals healthy; They are learning how to care for animals that are injured, they are learning how to persevere through difficult situations, they are learning how to be a team with their horses, they are learning the true meaning of sportsmanship, and how to encourage their competition instead of put them down.
“The group of people that lead the Peninsula Junior Rodeo Association are an extremely dedicated and knowledgeable group of volunteers. It is truly an honor and a privilege to get to serve alongside them. Kids that join us will get great coaching and ample opportunities to ride their horses with the other kids and travel to compete if they choose. However, for those that may not have their own horse, there are unmounted events for the younger ages, and for those that don’t wish to travel, they can still practice with us locally and compete in the local events that we sponsor if they choose. We are holding a meeting on Wednesday, April 19th for parents and kids that are interested to come learn more about what we do. Our practices are held at the Clallam County Fairgrounds twice per month [weather permitting] from April through September.”
For more information email peninsula firstname.lastname@example.org, view the Peninsula Junior Rodeo Facebook page or call Jennifer Bond at 360-461-9588.
Karen Griffiths’ column, Peninsula Horseplay, appears the second and fourth Saturday of each month.