Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Piikani Youth Rodeo returns with a renewed sense of purpose

Young Cowboys Hunter Little Bear and Antoine North Peigan
C. Davis photos and video
Chris Davis, Pincher Creek Voice

The Piikani Youth Rodeo began in 1995 and ran for many years. This year, Tyrone Potts and Rodney Big Bull spearheaded a major effort to bring it back.  Both Potts and Big Bull emphasize that the rodeo is not just for Piikani youth, but is also open to anyone between the ages of 4 and 25.

Taking place on Wednesday evenings at the Crowlodge Rodeo Grounds in Brocket, the rodeo currently gives about 60 youth an opportunity to learn and practice their skills in various events, including barrel racing, bull riding, steer riding, equestrian, sheep riding, and more.

Organizers Tyrone Potts and Rodney Big Bull
"We're just giving all these kids an opportunity," explained Tyrone Potts.  "Most of them would not have an opportunity to be involved otherwise.  We just want to give them an opportunity that they might not have under normal circumstances.  We want to promote our cowboys and this reserve.  We have less and less cowboys every year, so we're trying to start at the beginning.  These kids are our future."

Cheyenne Crow Flag
"We welcome the Pincher Creek community to come out.  They don't have to participate, they can come out and have fun with us.  That's all we want.  We're just here to have fun."

Potts volunteers his horses for the project, because most participants don't have one. "A lot of them are rodeo horses.  They're trained in barrels, and roping."

"They get all excited and say 'Mom, I rode a horse!' interjected Rodney Big Bull."

"Me and Rodney have been doing it for years," continued Potts.  "We didn't do it for about two years, but we came back and started doing it again."

"It's open to anybody.  We used to get kids from town, and we get kids from Standoff now."

Emma English
"One of our main sponsors passed on a few years back," explained Big Bull.  That sponsor was his sister, Sandra Grier. "We let it hang for a while, but we're back at it now.  It's done very well for us.  We're talking about 60 kids coming out and all having fun.  Nobody is making a dime on this. Our pay is putting a smile on these kids faces, and showing the kids they've got other things to than drinking, drugs, and partying.

"The last time we ran this a few years back, in the three months that we ran this, there was no vandalism on the reserve.  Now it's the same thing too.  It keeps them busy.  It's a creative alternative. A couple weeks ago it was just pouring rain, and the kids were still riding."

Big Bull was thankful for the support the project has received, both in the present and in the past.  "The health center, Peigan Youth Prevention Program and Marilyn Halton and our good friend Lloyd Sproule, who's very supportive of us... In times past, a lot of really good people in Pincher Creek have supported us, and we really appreciate that.  "Butch Little Mustache has also been very supportive of us."

"The Health Center is helping us with the funding to get sheep, and stuff like that," elaborated Potts. "They also pay for a meal for the kids and volunteers."  The sheep come from Springpoint Hutterite Colony.

Young cowboy Hunter Little Bear has been participating for a "couple weeks".  This is his first year in rodeo.  He plans to become a bull rider, but for now he's riding sheep.  "It's hard, because they're too fast," he said.  Antoine North Peigan is the strong silent type, also in his first year with two weeks in the rodeo under his belt.  He plans to ride 10 sheep and also wants to ride bulls. He's been learning how to hold on for 8.

Lucky David
17 year-old Lucky David started with sheep riding in his younger days, but he's 8 years in now and riding bulls.  He won at the Indian National Pioneer Rodeo last year. He took 4th place in bull riding at Southpoint arena in Las Vegas last November.  "I've got Browning Montana Indian Days next weekend (now last weekend), he said.  "It's fun.  My dad inspired me to ride.  My dad used to ride bulls."

Riel Bruised Head
17 year-old Riel Bruised Head has been competing for 6 years.  "Bull riding and SRCA, RRCA last year, and Albequrque, New Mexico," were recent bigger events he's participated in.  "It was pretty fun, good bulls down there. I think 2 kids from the Blood came down with me. I did 7th, I'm pretty sure.  Stayed on 2 out of 4."

"He's one of our top bull riding prospects right now," explained Tyrone Potts.  "He's been through two world finals already, he's going to be our next world champion."  Bruised Head is getting his pro card shortly.

Lane Good Rider
At 15 years of age, Lane Good Rider is also making a name for himself on the rodeo circuit. "I do IRCA, I went to White Swan, Washington on the Far Tour Rodeo. It's my last year (steer riding), then I do bulls. I've been riding since I was thirteen.  He too was planning his Browning Montana trip when we talked.  "I like the feeling when you get on, and after the ride.  It's pretty fun doing it."

Lucky David

Josh David

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