On 53 acres of rural land between Sanger and Reedley, 16-year-old Cobie and Cole Dodds already have become addicted to the cowboy way of life.
The horse riding. The hunting.
And especially the rodeo events.
So last summer following their freshman year at Reedley High, the twins pleaded with their parents to be home-schooled to allow them extra time on the family ranch.
Brett and Mindy Dodds reluctantly obliged.
But the reduced classroom time in favor of more time outdoors has benefited Cobie and Cole in many ways, the twins say.
Most notably, they’ve been able to hone skills in particular rodeo disciplines that they’re hoping lead to a future on the professional rodeo circuit.
For now, the Dodds will showcase their abilities at events such as the National High School Finals Rodeo, which runs Sunday through July 23 in Gillette, Wyo. Cobie qualified in trap shooting and Cole in tie-down roping.
Also competing from the local area at the 68th annual event are Reed Neely (saddle bronc riding), Andee Poole (goat tying, pole bending, breakaway roping), Bailee Poole (rodeo queen) and Taylor Strohl (girls cutting).
It’s pretty exciting. This is one of the things I’ve always wanted to do all my life, get to Nationals.
Cole Dodds, a tie-down roping qualifier from Fresno County
“It’s pretty exciting,” Cole said. “This is one of the things I’ve always wanted to do all my life, get to Nationals.”
But it’s not always literal horse play.
Cobie and Cole help run the family business of training race horses, conducting early-morning workout sessions and talking with customers.
The twins do school work in the middle of the day, also meeting with teachers from Hallmark Charter in Sanger to update them on their progress as needed.
When ranch and school work are done, they ignore usual teenage distractions such as video games and opt for real-life adventure.
“Just about any time there’s nothing to do, I’m hunting,” Cobie said. “I get my trap shoot practice (by) shooting ducks, shooting doves. Just depends what hunting season we’re in.
“Been doing this since I got my hunting license at 11.”
Despite that experience, Cobie isn’t quite sure how his talents stack up against the competition at the National Finals.
About 1,500 will compete in the National High School Finals Rodeo, with participants from as far away as Australia, Brazil and Mexico.
There will be about 1,500 competitors in various events, with participants from as far away as Australia, Brazil and Mexico.
Trap shooting consists of five gunmen spaced about 5 feet apart, taking turns shooting at flying clay discs from about 45 yards away for 100 rounds.
“I’m going to go there with a smile on my face and see what happens,” Cobie said. “I feel confident in my work and just going to have fun.”
Cole said he’s has been riding since he was 6. He’s practiced roping goats and calves for years, too.
6,000 Crowd expected to attend the 68th annual National High School Finals Rodeo in Gillette, Wyo.
He’s hoping it’ll all come together before an expected crowd of 6,000 next week.
Tie-down roping consists of a cowboy riding his horse, roping a calf that’s been released out of a gate, and flipping the animal on its back and tying its legs.
“I’m feeling good and my horse is working good,” Cole said. “If I rope the way I’m capable and don’t put too much pressure on myself, I think I can be in the top five.
“I’ll be ready.”
National High School Finals Rodeo
68TH ANNUAL RODEO
- Vitals: Sunday-July 23 from Gillette, Wyo.
- Of note: There are six qualifiers from the Fresno County – Cobie Dodds (trap shooting), Cole Dodds (tie-down roping), Reed Neely (saddle bronc riding), Andee Poole (goat tying, pole bending, breakaway roping), Bailee Poole (rodeo queen) and Taylor Strohl (girls cutting).