Clovis News

Young mutton busters are a highlight for crowd

Selah Obenauf's strategy was simple: Do what Daddy says.

And the instructions of the day were to grab a bunch of wool, hold on tight and don't let go.

All nine contestants during Friday's mutton bustin' contest at the 97th annual Clovis Rodeo likely tried to employ a similar plan.

But none of the youngsters did it quite as long or quite as well as Fresno's 6-year-old Obenauf, who rode on top of a running sheep for roughly 5 seconds and scored an 83 to win the event.

"She's wild like her Daddy," said Selah's mother, Marya Obenauf. "She loves going fast, never is afraid of getting hurt. She just loves doing this."

Selah Obenauf edged Dustin Prewitt, who finished runner-up and scored an 82 from the three-judge panel.

Prewitt didn't leave empty-handed. Wearing a cowboy hat, plaid button shirt and chaps on top of his jeans, Prewitt was named "best dressed" before the contest.

Obenauf, who wore a mask and helmet during the race but donned a pink cowgirl hat afterward, received one of the loudest rounds of applause during the second day of the Clovis Rodeo.

Laying on her stomach atop a 130-pound sheep and with her arms hugging the animal's sides, Obenauf wasn't fazed when the sheep ran to the left immediately out of the chute.

Even when the sheep tumbled, Obenauf refused to let go until the rodeo clown separated her from the animal.

"That was fun," said Obenauf, who participated in roughly the 10th mutton bustin' contest of her life. She also took first place at the Big Fresno Fair two years ago. "My dad taught me how to do this. He tells me to hold on tight."

In all, nine events took place Friday at the rodeo grounds, which drew an unofficial crowd of 10,000 as the grandstands were packed and the walk and social areas filled with hundreds, if not thousands, more people.

Luke Creasey was in first place of the bareback riding after scoring 79. Curtis Cassidy had the lead in steer wrestling, scoring a 4.6.

Waylon McCurley and Wade Hooker led team roping at 6.3. Hunter Herrin and Ryan Jarrett were tied atop the calf roping charts at 8.1.

Sherry Cervi led barrel racing at 17.16. Tyler Smith occupied first place in bull riding after scoring an 88.

And Chet Johnson led the field in saddle bronc riding with an 83. The events continue through Sunday.

Chad Ferley of Oerlichs, S.D., the 2006 saddle bronc world champion, was tied for third after staying up the full 8 seconds to score a 79.

"The horse was just all right," Ferley said. "He was easy until the end and then he got a little tricky. We'll see if it's enough to get me a check. It just depends on how everybody else does the rest of the days."

Perhaps the highlight of the day was the mid-show act of John Payne, aka "The one-armed bandit." Riding his horse around the track, Payne managed to get two buffaloes to walk up a ramp attached to a truck and stand on top of a trailer that was roughly 8 feet tall.

Payne ended his act by getting his horse to walk up the ramp and next to the two buffaloes, then stood on top of his horse to salute the crowd.