Rodeo youth will keep on trying
Staunch and stoic pretty much summed up young Middlemarch cowboy Elih Long, 11, after his disappointing performance in the calf ride at the Wanaka Rodeo.
The junior cowboy struggled to get to his feet after falling from a feisty calf and was carried from the arena to St John.
The concerned crowd will be pleased to know the Strath Taieri School pupil was quickly back on his feet, despite heavy bruising to his legs, and did not require further treatment.
Elih’s face showed that he was quietly employing every inch of his slight frame to master the pain, but with a superb display of manners, did not wince when hismumkissed his cheek.
‘‘I’m all right’’, he said before gathering with fellow junior steer riders for a post-event photograph.
It was his only event for the day and he was disappointed not to be in the running for a prize, but he was determined to keep trying.
Elih has been competing for four years, inspired by his grandmother Kathy Tisdall and mother Rhondine Long, who are both barrel-ride exponents.
He explained that rodeo was a lifestyle for him, something he imagined he would always do.
‘‘It is just the energy of it,’’ he said.
Elih was the youngest competitor at the event, with four teenagers competing in the junior steer ride eventually won by Ashburton’s Brendon Johnston, 14.
Cody Milton, 15, of Middlemarch, explained the undulating riding style the cowboys aimed to achieve ‘‘looks easy but is really hard to do’’.
Practice made perfect, so every fortnight the cowboys try to gather for a ‘‘buck out’’ on young steers.
The youngsters eventually aim to make their way up to second division steer ride events, before graduating to the open bull ride.
Bull rider Chris Nicholson, of Rangiora, said bull riding was not actually that scary.
‘‘Once you get on and have a crack and get the adrenalin rush, you just get hooked,’’ he said.
Wanaka Rodeo Club president Lyal Cocks was delighted with the event, estimating up to 5000 people had filled the arena next to the Albert Town camping ground.
Ride ’em cowboy: Bareback rider Adam Williams grimly hangs on.