BIG CYPRESS — Young rodeo riders from Big Cypress, Brighton, Hollywood and Immokalee reservations and surrounding areas, corralled June 27 at the Junior Cypress Rodeo Arena for the third annual Youth Summer Series Rodeo.
From mutton busting to goat tying, 182 youth contenders rode and roped feisty animals during the first of three summer rodeos in Big Cypress. Other events included pony, calf and steer riding, chute doggin, junior bulls, steer undecorating, breakaway, team and dummy roping, barrel racing, pole bending, goat untying, and junior and senior goat tying.
“Rodeo is like any other sport; they learn to help each other out,” said rodeo director Ayze Henry. “Obviously they have to practice, so it helps keep them out of trouble.”
Tribal kids and teens were represented in the winner’s circle.
Cariss Johns won pony riding and calf riding in the 7-9 age group. In barrel racing, the 9-12 age group was a tight race; Jalee Wilcox was just over half a second off the winning time and placed third. The 13-18 age group was also close; the first four cowgirls were only 1.1 seconds apart. Madisyn Osceola took third and Samantha Veliz placed fourth.
Mutton busting tested the youngest kids up to age 6, who struggled to stay on sheep. Hayne Fulford used a unique tactic; he hugged the sheep tightly, held onto its wool with both hands and stayed on for the full 30 seconds. It was a winning strategy – he took first place. Ada Bruised Head placed second.
Some of the kids compete in the Eastern Indian Rodeo Association (EIRA), but most compete in other junior rodeos in Hendry County, Okeechobee, Arcadia, the All Florida Junior Rodeo Association and the Florida High School Rodeo Association, Henry said.
Participants earn points in each of the three summer rodeos. At the end of the series, the competitor with the most points in each event will be named champion.
Prizes will be given for first through fifth place. The final rodeo is scheduled for Aug. 29.