Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Eagle Butte

Play Day: learning fun – “The most important teacher in rodeo is experience”

Play Day during the CRST Fair and Rodeo celebration is a much-anticipated and exciting youth event that provides a time for children to learn about the sport of rodeo and horsemanship. Children will gear up for mutton bustin’, ribbon pulling, barrel racing, pole bending, flag racing, and a boot scramble during this year’s event.

Besides having a good time, the participants will gain valuable rodeo and horsemanship experience. There are no local rodeo schools, so many rodeo athletes turn to mentors, peers and family members when they are first learning about the sport. As one seasoned bareback rider said, “The most important teacher in rodeo is experience.” Play Day is just that — an opportunity for young children to participate in exciting events while gaining experience and building confidence.

Taking the bull by the horns and overcoming fears

For many kids, Play Day may be the first time they ever climb and ride an animal, come out of a chute, or enter in a timed event — feats that require courage at any age. You will see children learning to overcome fear, whether it is stage fright, performance anxiety, or just plain butterflies, these young athletes will look fear in the eyes, grab it by the horns, and conquer it, all while their family and friends cheer them on.

Showcasing love for the animals

The special bond between horse and rider will be on full display at the event. Riders will brush their horses, braid mane and tail, and ensure the cinch is properly placed for maximum comfort. Another common sight is children playing with the young goats who will be entered into the ribbon pulling event.

Two athletes on display: horse and rider

Many of the young participants are still mastering their horsemanship skills, and the timed pole bending and barrel racing events test the horse’s and rider’s skills. In pole bending, the two athletes (horse and rider) weave through a set of five poles and race back to the finish line, while in barrel racing, the horse and rider maneuver around three barrels in a clover-leaf pattern. Both events showcase the young riders’ ability to handle a horse —   maneuvering through sharp turns at high speeds.

Exposure to the rodeo scene

Unlike the busy hubbub that usually encompasses a big rodeo, Play Day is a great opportunity for a young child to be exposed to the rodeo world in a calm and safe atmosphere. Children will have the opportunity to compete like seasoned cowboys and cowgirls and get to experience the behind-the-scenes environment of the chutes and crow’s nest, without the danger of bucking stock and roping cattle.

A determination to be the best they can be

Whether it’s mutton bustin’ or pole bending, the young athletes will strive to do their best during each event in which they compete. Some of the best photos of the event capture the young athletes’ sheer will and determination to hold on, to successfully grab a ribbon, or to maneuver around a barrel. When you join Play Day fans, look at the young cowboys and cowgirls after their performance – nobody can be prouder of them in that moment than themselves. It is that excitement in their eyes, but more importantly that sense of accomplishment that makes Play Day a wonderful event.