Gymkhana Rodeo Riders Give Lights Out Performances

Gymkhana Rodeo Riders Give Lights Out Performances

Brynn Dipiero, 6, of Evanston, was just one of the many riders competing at Wild West Outlaws Gymkhana at the Sweetwater Events Complex. SweetwaterNOW photo by Paul Murray

ROCK SPRINGS — Several rodeo contestants at the Saturday, January 8, Wild West Outlaws Gymkhana held at the Sweetwater Events Complex distinguished themselves by posting double wins.

Louise Kennedy from Lyman topped the standings in both age 40-plus barrel racing and in age 40-plus pole bending, with times of 16.326 seconds and 26.485 seconds, respectively, while riding “Rookie”.

Kyle Carpenter from McKinnon won all three of the ages 6 and under events, with times of 35.787 seconds in barrel racing, 52.157 seconds in pole bending, and 18.369 seconds in the third event of the day, an add-on race combining barrels and poles created by event organizer Susan Nichols.

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Kashlee Hill from McKinnon won the ages 7-9 barrels with a time of 17.493 seconds and 7-9 poles with a 24.26 timing.

Sage Cooley riding “Corona” topped the ages 10-13 barrels standings at 17.243 and 10-13 poles with a 21.938 timing.

Rock Springs High School senior Makenzi Scott, 18, ended up in a familiar place—first—in both the ages 18-39 barrel racing (16.508) and pole bending with a 21.056 timing. In Saturday’s barrels, Scott rode her experienced mount, Cats Raspberry Beret, who had previously helped her to a sub-20 second pole bending run last summer which was the third best PB time ever for a high schooler in the United States. Scott will be continuing her rodeo competitions at the University of Wyoming once her high school rodeo career is done.

The Gymkhana competition was held up for about 25 minutes between the barrel racing and the pole bending events when a spectator accidentally bumped a light switch off at the Events Complex Indoor Arena. Technical assistance became necessary to get the arena lights back on so that the competition could continue.

In both barrels and poles, horses at last Saturday’s Gymkhana rodeo had a rougher time of it. Horses seemed more skittish than usual, especially around the third barrel in BR and in maintaining a commitment to the pattern around the six poles each 21 feet apart in PB. Event winners more often than not were riders who could keep their horses on pattern rather than their mounts acting like they would have preferred to be someplace else. There may well have been a reason for part of that.

Cold impacts horses

Rodeo contestants faced an unfamiliar foe at the Indoor Arena—below freezing temperatures inside the arena which echoed the outdoor temperature. People and horses together could see their breaths through much of the morning and afternoon competition, until heaters at the Indoor Arena were able to partially alleviate some of the chill. In fairness to the Indoor Arena, the garage doors had to be kept open wide for much of the early morning as contestants on horseback entered the facility.

The cold was a problem for the horses as well for their riders, who were frequently bundled up as though they were rodeo riding in Alaska.

“It’s the same as with people; if it’s too cold, horses can get arthritis,” declared Josh Parker from Rock Springs.

Carter Parker, 3, was set to compete in lead-line barrel racing and pole bending. “Carter’s been competing for two years now,” the elder Parker proudly added.

“You’ve got to know your horse. They can feel more fresh and frisky in the cold,” explained rider
Christine Thomas from Green River. Thomas did not feel this was necessarily a good thing. “Horses can
go slower when doing rodeo in the cold if the horse is being naughty and doing its own thing,” she said.

“If the horse is being naughty and not paying attention to you, it may decide to not run through the pattern. The horse can decide not to run through the pattern and then you lose the mechanics (of the barrel racing or pole bending),” Thomas said. :Then you have a slower time because you have to get the horse back on pattern.”

Then again, some rodeo riders have an easier time dealing with winter, as explained by Lyman’s Oakleen Hoffman, 10. Hoffman said that her horses—Sparky, 15; Minnie, 17; and Spirit, 11—can use her grandma’s indoor riding facility. Louis Kernnedy is Hoffman’s grandmother.

“The cold doesn’t seem to affect them,” Hoffman said about her horses, although she added that the cold
can make horses a little more tired than usual. Hoffman competes in different youth rodeos in goat-tying
as well as in barrels and pole bending. Her horses can be interchangeable. “They all have the same level
of interest in different events,” she said.

“It’s harder for horses in winter to warm up their muscles,” Scott explained. “It’s easier for horses to warm
up their muscles in spring and summer.”

Simply caring for horses to get them ready for rodeo is made harder during winter. “You put the blanket
on the horse because it’s cold, then it get warm during the day and you take the blanket off, but then you
get a hard cold again at night and you have to go put the blanket back on again,” Scott said. “Blanket on,
then blanket off.”

The bottom line, however, according to Scott, was that once a horse is properly warmed up, “I don’t really
see a difference in their times” between warm and cold temperatures. Scott added that she does try to get in some outdoor trail riding during winter months when the weather permits.

Be that as it may, “It’s just easier for a horse to warm up in spring and summer,” declared Jordan Nix
from Rock Springs.


No Pro Pole Bending Yet, But Lots of Breakaway Roping

Thomas expressed regret that pole bending is not, yet, a pro rodeo sport. Pole bending is a competition found in youth, high school and other amateur rodeos, but not yet in the pro circuits such as the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, even though women’s rodeo events now feature “breakaway roping” as well as barrel racing.

“Pole bending is good for barrels horses,” Thomas said. “The horse has to go left, right, left, right in poles. It keeps barrels horses in shape.”

With breakaway roping, not only is it limited to only a few seconds of action per rider, but, Thomas said, each breakaway rider has to worry about not breaking the barrier and thereby incurring a 10-second penalty added on to the roping time.

In breakaway roping, the female rider has to lasso the runaway steer, but there is no attempt to wrestle the steer to the ground as there is in tie-down roping.

Down To The Wire

The next Wild West Outlaws Gymkhana rodeo event is scheduled for Saturday, February 5, beginning 9 a.m., at the Sweetwater Events Complex Indoor Arena. The final WWOG event for the 2021-2022 season is scheduled for Saturday, March 5.

Further information regarding upcoming Gymkhana rodeos is available by contacting event organizer Susan Nichols at (307) 350-2989.

The Gymkhana rodeo results from Saturday, Jan. 8:
Barrel Racing:
Ages 6 & under (order of 1-2-3, time in seconds, with dollar payout amount)
Kyle Carpenter, 35.787, $15
Wes Wegener, 38.638, $10
Brynn Dipiero, 89.99, $5

Ages 7-9
Kashlee Hill, 17.493, $36
Kennedy Kleinlein, 19.00, $24
Sadie Nichols, 20.415, $12

Ages 10-13
Sage Cooley, 17.243, $33
Oaklee Hoffman, 17.303, $22
Raygon Peterson, 18.496, $11

Ages 14-17
Jadyn Mortensen, 16.517, $48
Kassidy Hewitt, 16.777, $32
DeEtte Powell, 16.871, $16

Ages 18-39
Makenzi Scott, 16.508, $60
Rheanna Norton, 16.862, $40
Andi Carpenter, 16.925, $20

Ages 40-Plus
Louise Kennedy, 16.326, $42
Stephanie McCann, 16.93, $28
Patricia Bindl, 17.827, $15.40

Pole Bending
6 & under
Kyle Carpenter, 52.157, $12
Wes Wegener, 57.071, $8

7-9
Kashlee Hill, 24.26, $33
Aspen Cuthbertson, 26.557, $22
Ashten Folks, 31.834, $11

10-13
Sage Cooley, 21.938, $33
Tracie Westerberg, 24.965, $22
Oaklee Hoffman, 25.471, $11

14-17
Kassidy Hewitt, 22.557, $39
Zoey Robison, 22.885, $26
Jadyn Mortensen, 23.434, $13

18-39
Makenzi Scott, 21.056, $45
Samantha Hakala, 24.368, $30
Stephanie Root, 24.74, $15

40-Plus
Louise Kennedy, 26.485, $27
Kelly Westerberg, 26.828, $18
Chris Thomas, 27.477, $9

“3rd Event” (Obstacle barrels/poles)
6 & under
Kyle Carpenter, 18.369, $12
Wes Wegener, 20.646, $8
Kaisley Kennedy, 43.163, $4

7-9
Chase Westerberg, 10.601, $30
Kashlee Hill, 12.188, $20
Kennedy Kleinlein, 15.512, $10

10-13
Andrew DeGrassi, 10.636, $21
Raygon Peterson, 12.264, $14
Payton Haddeen, 12.952, $7

14-17
Nakoda Bird, 12.238, $24
Nakoda Bird, 12.529, $16
Makinsy Huntington, 13.548, $8

18-39
Stephanie Root, 10.364, $36
Samantha Hakala, 11.54, $24
Samantha Hakala, 11.993, $12

40-Plus
Mishell Howard, 12.522, $27
Louise Kennedy, 12.89, $18
Kelly Westerberg, 13.103, $9