Elbow-popping action

SARAH DUNN
Last updated 14:49 24/01/2013

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Saturday saw thousands of spectators flock to the Richmond Rodeo to see cowboys and cowgirls take part in a tradition that has been going on for more than 50 years.

Richmond Rodeo Club member Di Hamilton said it was special for the small club to be able to introduce people to rodeo. She said people came "out of the woodwork" to roll up their sleeves and lend a hand when the event drew near, saying it was the highlight of the year for her club.

"We all love the sport of rodeo," she said. "I think it's safe to say the people who are involved with rodeo love horses and love stock, particularly cattle."

The club put up a total of $13,000 in cash prizes, collected by fundraising and gate sales. They also donated $500 to Riding for the Disabled Richmond.

Di said the club took their responsibility to take care of the cattle, horses and sheep seriously.

"We really do look after the stock; we don't have ‘She'll be right' attitudes."

The club owned six of the novice bronc horses, who were taken care of by club members Graham Purvis and Ben Nisbett. Di said the broncs were more than just wild horses to the club, saying each had a name and a personality.

Waimate Rodeo Club supplied more experienced horses for the open bronc section, and the three-quarter-tonne bulls for the open section came from Rangiora.

Kept overnight at club president Ian Parkes' place, the bulls have tough-guy names like Big Tex, Jake the Muss and Captain Hook.

Some are well-known celebrities in their own right: brown-and-white monster Dougal has had a hero's welcome at Richmond Rodeo for at least two years running. Ian provided his own younger bulls for the novice bull section.

Novice bulls buck but they can be more toey, said Di. "They don't know their way out so easily, but all the bulls are lovely today."

Richmond Vets veterinarian John Mace scratched one bull from Saturday's competition as it was limping, but said the others were in good shape to be ridden.

"I presume he had a fight in the night, so we withdrew him," John said. "The guys are pretty good, they don't present anything that isn't up to it."

Richmond Rodeo Club member Jack Gould, 17, looked forward to Dougal's performance, and that of a new black bull being ridden for the first time.

Attending with his family, Jack's job was to stand in the arena and let the bulls out of their chutes.

"You can get pushed around by the bulls but the cowboys get the worst, they get hammered," he said.

Murchison apprentice engineer Robbie Bourke prepared to get hammered by horses in the second-division bareback ride around midday. He had friends cover his left arm in medical tape from shoulder to wrist to prevent hyperextension of the elbow joint.

"The horse is so strong that if you don't have the arm tape, you can straighten your elbow and it will pop out."

The ride was Robbie's first attempt at bareback riding after a disastrous run that landed him in hospital with an injured back.

Helping to tape his wrist, older brother Harry admitted he was feeling rather tense.

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"I haven't watched Robbie do a bareback ride yet, so I'm all nerves."

Robbie managed to come off his horse uninjured, and was runner-up in the second-division bullride.

Nelson parents Carol and Kelvin Heiford watched proudly as their 3-year-old son Max and his brother Quinn, 4, held onto their woolly broncos for dear life during the sheep ride.

The boys decided they wanted to go for a ride after watching other children have a go last year.

"I wasn't nervous, they take worse spills at home," Carol said. "It was the highlight of the day."

Carol thought Quinn would be keen to try again next year, but tearful Max might need time to forget his fall. Jimmy Booth, an 18-year-old mechanic from Fairlie, took out the top prize when he won the open bull section. Scott Graham of Galatea won the open bareback bronc category, while Mosgiel's Larry Williamson came first in saddle bronc. Bruce Thomas of Middlemarch won the rope and tie, Christchurch man Chris Hood took out the steer wrestling, Tineka McDonald from Darfield won the barrel race and Ray Woodley and Roy Tisdall dominated the team roping.

- Nelson

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