Strolling Amok

Pops goes on tour.

Mormon Lake Team Roping

The steer roping encampment is right where the Overland Expo used to be. Still a bit moist, but much better.

The steer roping encampment is right where the Overland Expo used to be. Still a bit moist, but much better.

The weekend following the Overland Expo arrived with pleasant surprise – a team roping event! I tripped upon it at the end of its first day, and wandered over to take Day Two in. The nice thing about all these is that none of these things charge any fee to watch. As a competition event with entry fees and payouts, the organizers apparently aren’t about to devote manpower and costs into the few spectators that might also show up. Most all of the people in the stands are related to the competitors, so why bother? I didn’t return on Day Three, Sunday, because of fairly consistent rain all day. Didn’t seem to stop them, though. I could just barely hear the announcer now and then from camp, and toward the end of the day, rousing cheering and whooping from the crowd. I liked that.

Competitors warm up their mounts, and jabber.

Competitors warm up their mounts, and jabber.

Three things in particular struck me. First was the dedication and drive of some of the teams, and many were proud of their past and current accomplishments. Many took it seriously.

The event went like clockwork, and this is the staging area for teams near the top of the stack.

The event went like clockwork, and this is the staging area for teams near the top of the stack.

 

Second was the overall lay of the event. In Wickenburg, teams tended to show up solo and compete. They seemed to be locals who were there to see how well they could do, get any winnings, and go home when it was over. Here, it was mainly a full-blown family thing. They came in, set up working camps, and dads went to the arena to do their best while moms cooked and made camp livable, and everyone else did their thing. It was more like a mobile town, and horses replaced all other forms of transport. Unlike other places I’ve been, the horses here paid no attention to my bike. It tends to spook most of the rest, and I try to ride with that in mind. These horses seemed to have been around the track a few times, with that attitude of seen it all, done it all. No squabbles between them, no personality quirks, no shyness, no insecurity. Any small child old enough to sit upright and hold the reigns could get a boost up and ride around as they liked through camp. Smaller than that, and they’d occasionally be led around by a parent. The few dogs here, all mixed breeds, were leashed, well-behaved, and obedient, even if not overly friendly. No barking or yapping heard at all. Kids and youths gathered, talked and played – and practiced roping on dummy steers. Predictably, there was no mall syndrome here among any – no bored toddlers throwing tantrums to get their way. They were too busy and preoccupied with all that was going on around them.

Yeehaaah! Skill and luck have to combine here. Times went all the way down to sub-six seconds start to finish, though the norm was ten to twelve.

Yeehaaah! Skill and luck have to combine here. Times went all the way down to sub-six seconds start to finish, though the norm was ten to twelve.

Third was the announcer, a lady with a pro announcer’s voice, but what was startling was her ability to stay right on top of what was going on. She kept clear on who was in the gate and who was supposed to be coming up next, times, penalties, rankings, you name it, right while it was all rolling. She wasn’t announcing it as it was happening – she was clearly running it, reshuffling the deck when necessary. The clarity of mind that it took, well, I was impressed. Despite her admonitions to “know your team number”, a pair of riders would occasionally run out of order, but she somehow detected it, figured out who just ran, and clarified who should then be next and waiting in the stack, all without a hint of being flustered or chiding the miscreants. Cool-headed, with a mix of patience, awareness and order. Her performance itself was no small part of the entertainment value.

Time penalties exist for leaving the gate early or roping only one of the steer's rear legs.

Time penalties exist for leaving the gate early or roping only one of the steer’s rear legs.

Tons of families set up camp, mixing the needs of camp life with practice, practice, practice.

Tons of families set up camp, mixing the needs of camp life with practice, practice, practice.

Well, somebody won a nice rig a few years ago!

Well, somebody won a nice rig a few years ago! “Navaho Nation Rope for the Dodge Truck”

Lots of horse folks hanging around. You know how you see twenty-something girls walking together and talking at mini-malls? Here, they passed by on horses. Sort of the same, but not quite.

Lots of horse folks hanging around. You know how you see twenty-something girls walking together and talking at mini-malls? Here, they passed by on horses. Sort of the same, but not quite.

I don't know what that rear strap is for, but it doesn't look like it's going to do it.

I don’t know what that rear strap is for, but it doesn’t look like it’s going to do it.

The little girl in lavender rode up and down the area, looking as content and everyday as could be.

The little girl in lavender rode up and down the area, looking as content and everyday as could be.

After awhile, her daddy pulled her off and rode to the arena to compete.

After awhile, her daddy pulled her off and rode to the arena to compete.

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There was a majority contingent of Hispanic competitors here, most wore baseball caps, and these gauchos also netted the lowest finishing times!

There was a majority contingent of Hispanic competitors here, most wore baseball caps, and these gauchos also netted the lowest finishing times!

They approached their roping with visible intensity, and seemed able to make opportunities instead of waiting for the right time. It was apparent that they had plenty of experience under their belts.

They approached their roping with visible intensity, and seemed able to make opportunities instead of waiting for the right time. It was apparent that they had plenty of experience under their belts.

Though I took no photos of them, plenty of wives had pots on stoves or campfires while their husbands tried to earn a living.

Though I took no photos of them, plenty of wives had pots on stoves or campfires while their husbands tried to earn a living.

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Children and teens abounded. For most ropers, this was no getaway hobby.

Children and teens abounded. For many ropers, this was no getaway hobby.

Camp life for this crowd.

Camp life for this crowd.

A good lookin' horse in front of one of the posh rigs, which had no correlation to finishing order.

A good lookin’ horse in front of one of the posh rigs, which had no correlation to finishing order.

 

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4 thoughts on “Mormon Lake Team Roping

  1. Chris lemcke on said:

    another enjoyable journey ….Thanks

  2. Mary A on said:

    Love the piccys and the narrative.
    Thank you.
    ps… I read all your ramblings, but don’t usually say anything.
    Take care and ride safe!
    Mary A aka Krashdragon

  3. Horses, horses, horses! Great pics, excellent subject matter! 🙂

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