GUYMON, Okla. – Twenty-two years ago, the Guymon Pioneer Days Rodeo became part of the Wrangler ProRodeo Tour, which, at the time, was the way to showcase more rodeo on television than ever before.
It was also a way to showcase major events in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and the sport’s major stars. That made Guymon an important stop for every cowboy and cowgirl hoping the tour would eventually boost them to a National Finals Rodeo qualification.
The Justin Sportsmedicine program, underwritten by the Justin Boot Co., took advantage of that and made its introduction to the Oklahoma Panhandle to help care for the abundance of contestants that would be part of the field. Program staff and volunteers will return for the 23rd time for this year’s 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.
“Back then when the tour first started, we saw the value of hitting the tour rodeos,” said Rick Foster, a program manager for the sports medicine group who has worked Guymon for two decades. “We want to hit the bigger rodeos, and Guymon draws a big number of contestants. We’re there to tend to the cowboys, and we have a great chance to get to many of them. We’ve been there every year since the tour started.”
That was in 2000, and the Justin team has hauled in its specially-converted, wrapped trailer to the rodeo grounds each spring. Inside, there are training tables, cases of tape, an ice machine and everything that can be seen in a professional athletic training room.
The Justin Sportsmedicine program began in 1980 and has continued to evolve over time. In the 40-plus years since it was created, it has grown from covering 10 rodeos a year to more than 125. Through a year, the team provides around 8,500 treatments while recording more than 1,500 new injuries. That equals roughly one and a half tons of ice, more than 250 miles of tape and 3,000 hours of service.
“Most of the entries in Guymon are with the timed events,” Foster said. “While they may not be taking horse to the ribs or the yanking on their arms like the roughstock guys, they have typical injuries, too. Steer wrestlers have tremendous forces on their knees and backs. We have the same injuries in tie-down roping as a lot of runners, sprinting-type injuries like hamstring and quad strains.
“There are some amazing forces that the bodies go through. We tend to look at things like football trainers see, collision injuries, but there are greater forces at work in rodeo than there are in football.”
The team in Guymon will include a sports medicine physician, Dr. Jason Mogonye, who will make his way to the Oklahoma Panhandle from Fort Worth, Texas, where he is a team doctor for TCU. The JSM team also works with local trainers, physicians and clinicians at many venues to ensure the best care possible for the athletes.
“Knowing there is the Justin Sportsmedicine Team of professionals readily available to us cowboys brings a sense of relief and comfort when climbing on the back of a horse or a bull,” said Stetson Wright, a five-time world champion Utah cowboy who has won the last three all-around world titles. “We are blessed to have the best standing by to help us when we need it.”
The team also provides a sense of comfort to members of the local committee, a group of volunteers that produces the rodeo every spring.
“We’ve had a great relationship with the Justin team and Rick Foster for many years, and it’s a relief, in a way, to know they are here and will take care of the contestants who are here to compete,” said Ken Stonecipher, a longtime member of the committee who had served as chairman when the tour began. “You know that if you see something happen in the arena, they’re going to be right there to handle any situation.”
Over the years, Pioneer Days Rodeo has built a great reputation as one of the best rodeos in the PRCA. It has been named the Rodeo of the Year and has been inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame. Besides opening its doors to around 1,000 contestants each spring, the people in Texas County, Oklahoma, provide a memorable experience.
“When I first went to Guymon, I realized the Midwest hospitality of how they put that rodeo together is just phenomenal,” Foster said. “They care for everybody that’s there for the rodeo. It’s great to be treated in that respect.
“You want to go to Guymon, because you’re going to be taken care of since you are all a team there.”