Rodeo youth will keep on try­ing

Central Otago Mirror - - WANAKA NEWS -

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.

Photo: MAR­JORIE COOK 630313670

Ride ’em cow­boy: Bare­back rider Adam Wil­liams grimly hangs on.

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