'This is as American as it gets': McCloud riding club hosts roping competition
"With these families here with their kids all participating together in these equestrian events – this is as American as it gets," said Terry Hitchcock about Saturday's 7th Annual Squaw Valley Riding Club Team Roping competition.
Just like in an old western movie, families came into town with their horses in tow to win some bucks while having fun team roping together with old acquaintances.
This year, an evening of different events was added on Friday for kids ages 4 to 16. Youngsters dressed up their horses and raced around barrels, poles, and with flags.
After the first day of the competition on Saturday, there was a big dinner and dance with live bluegrass and classic country music that was also open to the public.
Though there weren't as many people watching the 2-day event as in prior years, the competition still drew a lot of riders to test their roping skills against each other in timed events.
"It gets better every year," said Larry Goddard, who has come every year with his family to McCloud. "It is much improved with better chutes, alleyways, and the arena itself."
Mike Brewer with Brewer's Productions out of Los Molinos has the ropers come to settle up the score of payment as the weekend competition builds. It is all on the honor system. The return is good. The winners of each heap win cash prizes and the top winners also get a belt buckle.
"I gotta sell a couple cows to pay for this habit," said Ashley Taylor, who ended up winning the second day with her best times as a header.
Brewer, who has owned Brewer's Arena in Los Molinos for 57 years, said there are a lot of costs to put these roping events on: insurance, renting the arena, feeding and hauling 150 head of cattle and cash prizes, but he also gets to compete. He puts on 300 roping competitions yearly.
One good thing about these events: there are always eager young teens that want to volunteer to help run the cows, Brewer said. This year's helpers were Ashland Wall, Zephyr Kenny, Colton Altes, Wyatt Altes, and Taya Klebig.
"I want to thank all the club members who stepped up and helped put this roping event on, said Squaw Valley Riding Club President Peter Tolosano. " There is a lot of preparation work but the club looks better than it has in a long time. I also want to thank the ropers who came. They all had a great time."
Here's who won the competition on Saturday
1st place teams – Header Keith Johnson with heeler Matt Jesperson, header Billy Jesperson with heeler Pistol Bray, and header Ashley Taylor with heeler Gary Darst.
Sunday's 1st place teams were – Header Cody Cash with heeler Pistol Bray, header Cody Cash with heeler Zach Salvestro, and header Wendy Johnson with heeler Scott Meyers.