GUYMON, Okla. – Every athlete wants a fair opportunity to compete.
In the world of rodeo, no other event does it better than the Guymon Pioneer Days Rodeo, set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 6; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 7; and 2 p.m. Sunday, May 8, at Henry C. Hitch Pioneer Arena. It’s why the best in the business return to the Oklahoma Panhandle the first weekend of May each year.
“We’ve always focused on the cowboys,” said Jim Quimby, chairman of the volunteer committee that produces the annual event. “For us, that means doing what we can for the contestants, from our hospitality to getting the best stock. That means getting the best bucking horses and bulls and giving the timed-event contestants the best cattle to compete on.”
The committee will try to get enough roping cattle and bulldogging steers for each cowboy. In team roping, the animals will be fresh, meaning they’ll come straight from the pasture and will not have been roped prior to the event.
“Our team ropers won’t draw for their steers because they’ll be walking fresh and chute run,” said Ken Stonecipher, a longtime committee member. “We’ve had muley steers, those that don’t have horns, but this year we’re using horned cattle in team roping.
“They’ll still have a long score with a hand-pulled barrier.”
The primary difference is that most rodeo cattle have been through the chutes and know what to expect. They’re trained to do their jobs.
“When we get these fresh cattle, you don’t know what to expect, which we hope will make it a little more western,” Stonecipher said.
That’s just one aspect of the commitment to great livestock. The barrel racers, ropers and steer wrestlers will showcase some of the most athletic horses in the business, animals with blazing speed that can handle the maneuvers needed to stop the clock in quick order.
Of course, primary stock provider Pete Carr of Carr Pro Rodeo will bring with him a pasture full of great bucking horses and bulls. Not only that, but Carr has sought out some other tremendous contractors to help provide the fantastically athletic bucking beasts for this year’s festivities: Powder River Rodeo Co., D&H Cattle Co., Korkow Rodeo and Frontier Rodeo.
“It’s important to me that the cowboys can get on any horse or any bull and have a chance to win the rodeo,” Carr said. “We’ve had some great rides in Guymon over the years, and I’m sure we’ll see that again this year.”
That’s just what the rodeo needs, Quimby said.
“We’ve got several horses and a number of bulls that were at the 2010 NFR,” he said, referring to the year-end championship, the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. “I think, altogether, it’s shaping up to be the best four performances you can see anywhere outside the NFR.”
With previous years as indicators, Quimby might be dead on in his assessment. Take Dirty Jacket, a 7-year-old gelding that has helped cowboys win the Pioneer Days Rodeo title each of the last three years. In 2010, Will Lowe scored 87 points on Dirty Jacket to win the rodeo, while Joe Gunderson’s 86 on the horse held up for second place.
“The thing I like about coming to Guymon is that we all have a shot,” said saddle bronc rider Bobby Griswold of Geary, Okla., a four-time NFR qualifier. “That’s a rodeo we all want to win.”