Depending how the wind’s blowing, you can smell some of the athletes at the Clovis Rodeo from around the block.
No, the cowboys and cowgirls don’t stink — it’s the stock.
Fresh manure filled the air Friday evening, and combined with kicked-up dirt, smoky tri-tip and deep-fried corn dogs it made for an interesting aroma likely unmatched in the sporting world.
But what would you expect from more than 400 head of stock?
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This year’s selection is one of the most vast and best in the rodeo’s history.
In previous years, the Clovis Rodeo would use animals from three stock contractors. This year, it went with five.
This move, according to John Growney, the rodeo’s stock contractor, allows for only the best of the best bulls and horses to perform this weekend.
“It brings the A team,” Growney said. “When you can bring the A team from five stock contractors, you sort of take away the bottom end of the bucket horses.”
To ensure a peak performance from the animal, they only run one event in the weekend.
These beasts are bred, fed and groomed for 8-second runs.
In a year of competition, they could see less than five minutes of live rodeo action. For a life complete with room and board, that’s a pretty lush lifestyle for an athlete.
It also helps the riders, as their score is dependent on the animal. Think of it like NASCAR. The winning driver is dependent on their car and crew. In rodeo, riders are dependent on their animal, how it’s trained and how it bucks.
For timed events like team and tie-down roping and steer wrestling, contestants want a fast animal out of the gate to help their time. In points events, the rider and bucking bull/horse are each given 50 points.
The judges score both, and the rider with the highest score at the end of the event wins.
The cast of riders proved the stock’s worth, with a handful of world-ranked cowboys from the PBR sticking around to compete in the opening night of PRCA action in Old Town Clovis.
It showed right from the start as Austin Foss scored 82 points in the bareback riding on the horse Clownin’ Around.
The horse erupted out of the gate but Foss held on for a wicked start to welcome the eager crowd of nearly 8,000 for the best ride of the event.
Dallee Mason, Shane Proctor and Cody Campbell were some of the PBR pros to compete in the bull riding event Friday. But all were thrown off the saddle for no scores.
Garrett Smith of Idaho was the leader after Day 1, scoring 89 points on Wild Eyes.
Fresno’s Sheena Robbins was third with a time of 17.42 in barrel racing. Darby Fox clocked a 16.79 to lead after the first day.