Mormon Lake Team Roping
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.
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.
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.
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.