GLENS FALLS — Bucking their way out of the chute gates, the equine stars of the Adirondack Stampede Charity Rodeo literally kicked off Saturday’s show while their cowboy counterparts held onto their bareback mounts as long as they could.
In bareback riding, the judging is highly technical, and the score depends on how hard the horse bucks and how well the cowboy spurs and keeps control during the ride.
This year was the two-night rodeo’s 23rd year at Glens Falls Civic Center. It’s a Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association event that attracts a wide variety of contestants — numbering about 200 — including several past national champions. Several were from the local area while others came from as far away as Nevada and Texas.
The famous rodeo clown, Keith Isley, was part of the event.
Events included bareback riding, steer wrestling, team roping, saddle bronc riding, tie down roping, barrel racing and bull riding.
This certainly wasn’t Greg Martin’s first rodeo. The Auburn, Cayuga County, cowboy started in rodeos in 1976 and rode bulls until he reached his 40s.
Now Martin, 54, is a bulldogger, also known as a steer wrestler.
In steer wrestling a bulldogger rides out with a barrier separating him from the steer. Once the steer reaches the scoreline, the barrier is released and he and a hazer, or a second cowboy who keeps the steer from veering away, chase the steer on specially-trained American quarter horses until the bulldogger can slide down the right side of the horse and reach the steer’s right horn.
Then he takes the left horn in his left hand and uses his leverage to wrestle the steer to the ground, all in about three to five seconds.
What’s the key to this event? “A good horse, a good hazer, and a good cowboy,” Martin said as he stretched out his muscles before the event.
“We’re all athletes here, including the animals,” Martin said. “There’s a lot of technique in steer wrestling. The horse has got to get you there, and then it’s up to the cowboy.”
It was his girlfriend, Patty Hinman’s second rodeo. In her first, she watched her boyfriend blow out his knee while competing.
That was a little nerve wracking, but overall it’s a great show she said.
“I love it,” said Hinman outfitted in her cowboy boots. “I love all the bling, too.”
Looking down over the Civic Center seating, there were a sea of cowboy hats from straw to felt.
Jocelyn Eggleston already had her colorful flannel and worn cowboy boots in her country chic style. On Saturday, she added a cowboy hat from a longtime vendor at the show, Thomas Brothers Western, which has been coming to the show for more than 15 years from New Jersey.
Julie Thomas, of Thomas Brothers, said her family has been in the business about half a century, and the hats are top sellers at events.
“It’s my first time here,” Eggleston said. “I just started riding horses and wanted to come check out the rodeo.”
It’s for a good cause, too. After expenses, ticket proceeds benefit several charities including: 4-H Therapeutic Riding Program, Big Brothers/ Big Sisters, Boy Scouts of America, Girl Scouts of America, Caritas, Glens Falls Youth Center, Hospice of Warren County, World Awareness Children’s Museum, United Way and the YMCA.
“It all goes to charity, and for 23 years, you’ve supported your community,” said announcer Greg Simas.
Before the events Simas led a recognition of armed service members and a prayer. A cowgirl rode the American flag out onto the dirt of the arena and the national anthem was performed.
“Who’s proud to be an American now?” Simas asked.
Event director Linda Ellingsworth said Friday’s attendance was at 2,610 people, which topped the previous year. A total of 3,326 people attended Saturday’s event.
“Overall, things seem to be up a little this year, which is good,” Ellingsworth said.
Last year, the Miss Rodeo New York pageant approached the rodeo about holding the annual pageant at the Civic Center during the weekend event.
Miss Rodeo New York 2013 Lexi Buckheit said the rodeo is really a way of life.
“I’ve been riding my whole life, barrel racing on my personal time,” Buckheit said. “This is what they do on the farm.”
“Most of the things we see now as competitions came out of actual things they had to do on a ranch,” she said.
Ellingsworth said the event went off without a hitch. There’s a solid core of volunteers who make it possible
“We’ve got a great crowd. The people are totally into it and supportive,” Ellingsworth said. “We want to thank everyone for supporting us.”