Rodeo Roundup: 2017 Rio Arriba Rodeo

by Staff Reporter / Jun 27, 2017 / comments
Levi Whitely was the first competitor at the “Showdown in Old Abiquiu” rodeo June 24 at the Rio Arriba County Rural Events Center and he drew gasps from the crowd when he took a header off his horse in the saddle bronc riding competition. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

Rodeo Roundup: 2017 Rio Arriba Rodeo

By George Morse Sports and Outdoors

You’d better catch a rodeo cowboy (or cowgirl) when you can, because they’re here today and gone tomorrow as they hit the road to their next rodeo. Unless they’ve earned some money for their efforts, it’s off to their next competition.

That was what happened at the 2017 Rio Arriba County Rodeo, billed as the “Showdown in Old Abiquiu.” If you weren’t there to catch them when they were collecting their prize money, it was like looking for a needle in a haystack if they were even there at all.

The Royalty at the “Showdown in Old Abiquiu” Rodeo June 24 at the Rio Arriba County Rural Events Center included: Rio Arriba County Fair Princess Elyssa Baca of Canjilon (left), Rio Arriba County Fair Queen Katelyn Suazo of Abiquiu, Little Miss Rodeo New Mexico Maxine Manzanares of Abiquiu, Miss Rodeo New Mexico  Tylie  Garrison of Texico, Los Alamos County Rodeo Sweetheart Carley Hollander. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

One competitor who did hang around was bull rider Kayleb Erwin of Queen Creek, AZ. Erwin had been the only bullrider to stay on his animal for the required eight seconds June 23, the first day of the rodeo. He then had to wait until all of the bullriders June 24, the second day, completed their rides. Since bullriding is the last event of the rodeo, it was well after sundown when he finally learned he could pick up his prize money as the only rider to stay on his bull.

Erwin pocketed $896 for his efforts. Prize money is determined from the number of entries an event draws. Each competitor pays an entry fee.

Just 17, Erwin is already a veteran when it comes to staying on the backs of animals. He started with riding sheep (mutton busting), then moved on to calves, graduated to junior bull-riding and now rides professionally.

Erwin is unsure whether he will attend college on a bull riding scholarship or continue to ride professionally. He had an answer when asked why he had chosen a dangerous profession where injuries are common and the bulls often win.

“There’s not a feeling like it,” Erwin said. “When you’re in perfect rhythm with the bull, it’s like everything slows down. It’s like slow motion.”

That must be quite a feeling to make something that lasts just eight seconds seems like it’s happening in slow motion.

Local resident Eddie Maestas of Canjilon won the junior bull riding event and was also the only junior bull rider to stay on the required eight seconds. He collected $243 in prize money.

Eddie Maestas of Canjilon was the only junior bull rider to stay on his bull the required eight seconds and took first place at the “Showdown in Old Abiquiu” rodeo. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

Tyler Montano of Gallup was traveling back and forth between Abiquiu and another rodeo in Taos, which was being held at the same time. He was competing in tie-down roping and team roping. In team roping, there is a header and a heeler. The header first tries to lasso the horns of the steer, while the heeler tries to lasso both hind legs of the steer. Team ropers can enter as many times as they want as long as they pay multiple entry fees.

Tyler Montano of Gallup teamed up with Cody Plant of Los Lunas to take both first and second place at the “Showdown in Old Abiquiu” Rdeo June 24 at the Rio Arriba County Rural Events Center. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

It paid off for Montano, the header, and heeler Cody Plant of Los Lunas. They had the first and second fastest times and collected prize money for both first and second place. That earned them a total of $724 apiece in #12 team roping. They also took first place in #9 team roping, earning $265 apiece for that event.

Montano also competed in tie-down roping. Although he didn’t rope his calf at Abiquiu, he had better luck at Taos.

“I’m in first place at Taos,” he said.

There are three categories in team roping. The team of header Philip McCoy and heeler Dave Hinman took first place and earned $511 apiece. Team roping draws numerous entries and that results in bigger prize money awards.

Daniel Stephens roped and tied his calf in 15.4 seconds, but didn’t finish in the money at the “Showdown in Old Abiquiu” rodeo. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

Other first-place winners at Abiquiu included Rick Peterson of Farmington, who took first and second place in steer wrestling. He earned a total of $741 for bull-dogging two steers to the ground.

Rick Peterson of Farmington wrestled this steer to the ground and took both first and second place in the steer wrestling event. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

Chance Valdez won the tie-down roping event and earned $677.

Rachael Pozzi took both first and second place in barrel racing to earn a hefty total of $1,628 that included $931 for first place. Amanda Radford finished first in incentive barrel racing and earned $620 in that event.

Alicia Sandoval of Espanola competed in barrel racing at the “Showdown in Old Abiquiu” rodeo June 24 at the Rio Arriba County Rural Events Center. Although she failed to earn prize money, Sandoval is in third place in barrel racing in the New Mexico Rodeo Association standings with $1,043. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

Kaitlyn Doughty and Jesse Jones tied for first place in breakaway roping and earned $590.50 apiece.

Corey LeFebre of Bloomfield took first place in saddle bronc riding, earning $344 for staying on his bucking horse.

Little Miss Rodeo New Mexico Maxine Manzanares of Abiquiu competed in barrel racing at the “Showdown in Old Abiquiu” rodeo. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

Rio Arriba County Fair Queen Katelyn Suazo rode her horse around the arena at the “Showdown in Old Abiquiu“ rodeo. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post