Rodeo, roping liven fairgrounds

PHOTO BY DANIELLE STOMBERG—Darnell Johnson in the tie down competition Sunday afternoon at the Mesa County Fairgrounds.

PHOTO BY DANIELLE STOMBERG—Jace Booco stands with his brother, Jake Booco, to the right of him, during the opening of the final day of the Rodeo at the Mesa County Fairgrounds Sunday afternoon.

Sports traditionally calls on an athlete to rely on someone else, whether it’s a teammate on a field or a coach offering advice from the sidelines.

Either way, rarely does someone do it solely by themselves.

But what about when that partner is a 1,000-pound horse?

At Sunday’s CPRA Finals Rodeo at the Mesa County Fairgrounds, man and beast were relying on each other in every event.

One event where horse and human go hand in hand was the first event of the day, the tie-down roping.

“The horse has to give you his heart,” three time CPRA tie down champion Darnell Johnson said. “The most important thing is the teamwork with your horse.”

Tie-down roping is also referred to as calf roping and involves a cowboy roping a calf as quickly as possible after he is released from the start area. After the catch is made, the cowboy dismounts his horse sprints to the calf and with a small rope ties any three of the calf’s legs then puts his hands up in the air to stop the time.

“It is derived from an actual ranch competition,” Johnson said. “It comes from roping a sick calf on the ranch if you have to doctor him.”

Tie-down roping requires many different attributes from the cowboy including timing, speed and strength. As well as a horse that knows to start walking backwards once the calf is caught to keep the rope taught which allows the
cowboy to wrap the calf on the other end.

“The horse has to run and allow you to rope the calf then stop and let your work with the rope,” Johnson said.

“Give you amble time to get down get (the calf) tied.

Johnson is from Pueblo and finished third in this weekend’s event. But with the competitive finish he ends as the year end champion of the CPRA winning over $3,000.

He picked up tie down roping from his family and said a big part of the sport is trying to keep the adrenaline in check.

“You have got to keep a handle on your emotions,” Johnson said. “With the tie down, it is about not being too emotional and being able to control them in that short amount of time.”

Other competitions finishing up on Sunday were bareback riding, steer wrestling, breakaway roping, saddle bronc riding, mixed team roping, team roping and barrel racing.


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