Man against beast, that’s all there is to it

Central Otago Mirror - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - JO MCKEN­ZIE-MCLEAN

‘‘In New Zealand ev­ery­one wants to break open. That is when you ride with the big-wigs.’’

Fred Parker started his rodeo ca­reer in nap­pies, and he reck­ons he’ll fin­ish it in nap­pies too.

The pres­i­dent of the Millers Flat Rodeo Club rode his first sheep when he was four-years-old but work com­mit­ments saw him re­tire at 25. At 51-years, he has re­mained in­volved in rodeos and doesn’t plan on giv­ing it up any time soon.

‘‘I came here in nap­pies and I’ll prob­a­bly leave in nap­pies.’’

At this year’s sig­na­ture Box­ing Day event, Parker was the chute boss, mak­ing sure the cow­boys weren’t ‘‘muck­ing around too much’’.

‘‘It is a great adren­a­line buzz...it is man against beast, that is all there is to it.’’

The rodeo, in its 53rd year, kicks of the sum­mer hol­i­day rodeo cir­cuit and this year over 120 rid­ers com­peted in the event.

The club was try­ing to at­tract younger rid­ers, and held a clinic ear­lier in Novem­ber which had good at­ten­dance, he said.

‘‘We had quite a few first timers so hope­fully we will get more next year.’’

High­lights this year in­cluded Hawar­den cow­boy Tim Costello ‘‘break­ing open’’.

Costello, also a full-time model, moved from the sec­ond di­vi­sion sad­dle bronc to open bare­back.

‘‘In New Zealand ev­ery­one wants to break open.

‘‘That is when you ride with the big-wigs.’’

The 26-year-old won top place in the sec­ond di­vi­sion with 66 points, and came sec­ond in the open bare­back with 63 points.

He had been modelling full­time for about three months and ad­mit­ted it was ‘‘pretty rare’’ for male mod­els to be in the rodeo scene.

The ad­di­tion of shade sails this year was wel­comed by the large crowd who took shel­ter from the scorch­ing sun.

Parker said the club had been work­ing hard at set­ting the stan­dards in NZ Rodeo by putting the wel­fare of the stock and spec­ta­tors first, with the ad­di­tion of the shade sails.

‘‘We do our ut­most to en­sure the stock are looked af­ter and are in good phys­i­cal con­di­tion be­fore and af­ter the day.

‘‘Our on­site vet will tes­tify to this and the com­mit­ment we have to the wel­fare of the an­i­mals.’’

Sec­re­tary Mark Booth said the day ran smoothly and the bank was packed.

Millers Flat Rodeo ac­tion on Box­ing Day.

JO MCKENZIEMCLEAN

Fred Parker.

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