Women front runners in all-round rodeo standings
Women rodeo contestants are leading the all-round championship standings in the early stages of the season after strong performances in barrel racing and team roping events.
Rhodine Long, from Oxford (Canterbury), heads the open all-round championship with a number of wins in barrel racing, the most recent being at Omarama Rodeo yesterday (December 27), and third placing in the team roping event at Winchester Rodeo.
At present, Rhodine is 1000 points ahead of her nearest rival Patrick McCarthy of Hawea Flat in the open all-round championship but the season is yet to reach the midway point.
In second division events, Susie Morrow of Alexandra, leads the rookie all-round championship with solid performances in barrel racing and a third place in team roping at Miller's Flat rodeo.
Championship standings are calculated on the amount of money won at each event.
The New Zealand Rodeo Cowboys Association (NZRCA) president Lyal Cocks said it was still early in the season but it was good to acknowledge the women's success.
"In the past, this sport has largely been dominated by men but in recent years it's attracted more women and junior [under 15 years] contestants," he said.
In November 2018 there were 67 junior contestants and this year its climbed to 84 competitors. He said this reflects the increasing popularity of the sport particularly amongst families.
In team roping, for instance, there are several husband and wife combinations as well as father/daughter or father/son teams.
"At the Maniototo Rodeo last week, the Team Roping event was won by a husband and wife team and second place went to a father and son team," Lyal said.
As a reflection of the changing face of rodeo, the NZRCA was considering expanding the range events to better suit junior and women contestants.
"Right now we're looking at guidelines around the introduction of breakaway roping for junior competitors," he said.
Breakway roping has featured in the bi-annual Australiasim High School Rodeo Challenge for years but is not currently included in the NZRCA's eight championship events on the rodeo circuit.
Breakaway roping is a timed event and a variant of the traditional Rope and Tie event. Steers are roped by the rider in the same manner as the Rope and Tie, but the lasso is attached to the saddle with a string which breaks away as soon as the animal is roped. There is no requirement to put the animal on the ground and tie its feet as in the traditional event.
"A number of rodeos around New Zealand will feature displays of breakaway roping this season," Lyal said.
"It’s a good stepping stone for junior boys and girls learning the roping skills needed before they step up to the Rope and Tie event," he said.
If introduced by the NZRCA, breakaway roping will provide another event for younger contestants, he said. Currently, juniors can only compete in three events; junior steer ride, junior barrel race, and novice steer ride.
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