Ranch Rodeo Action in Fort Bend County, TEXAS
By Kesly Porter Ellis
Photos by Joelynn Rathmann Photography
Ever met a hard-working ranch cowboy who does not enjoy going to town once in a while and showing off their skills for a chance at glory and money? Neither have I; after all, that’s why the sport of rodeo was born. The perpetual chase for fame on the rodeo circuit is a lifestyle that many cowboys are acquainted with; however, the gap between the full-time rodeo cowboy and the full-time working ranch cowboy has been growing since the sport was invented.
As most full time ranchers know, leaving the ranch for a rodeo frequently is not at all practical, but that doesn’t mean that the hunger for competition fades. That hunger is largely why ranch rodeos have become so popular in the ranching industry.
Fort Bend County Fair Ranch Rodeo has been carrying on the Texas Ranching Heritage that is ingrained in the community’s culture. Up to twenty teams, comprised of four local cowboys and cowgirls each, gear up once a year in Rosenberg, Texas to compete for high point ranch rodeo team as well as the champion cow horse award, and they most certainly have some fun while doing so.
“Most of the teams come from local ranches, and we really have a lot of good hands that come to compete”, says previous competitor and current chairman of the rodeo Thomas Snedecor.
“We have a few competitors who have even gone on to participate in the WNFR,” says competitor and committee member Nick Yelderman. One of these cowboys happens to be Thomas’s son, Scott Snedecor, a three-time steer roping world champion.
Ranch rodeos are undoubtedly enjoyable for the competitors, but the community of Fort Bend County delights in the entertainment, and a sizeable crowd gathers to spectate each year. Snedecor says, “We have a lot of fun, and it’s really a pretty good show.”
The three timed events; steer yoking, double mugging, and pasture doctoring, are crafted to test and spotlight the skills that working ranch men and women develop and utilize daily. But the added pressure of a time limit and eager spectators really turns up the heat as each team scrambles to rack up the most points.
In steer yoking, a steer is sorted out of the bunch and across a line. One of the team members must then head the steer, and the other team members work vigorously to secure the steer to the neck rope which is connected to a yoke. The rope must be tied to the yoke correctly and stay tied for a minimum of six seconds for the team to receive a time.
A little dirt is bound to fly during the double-mugging event where a steer is sorted, roped, and then must be laid down. Then, three legs are tied together securely, and the steer must stay down for six seconds or else the team receives a no time.
The action-packed pasture doctoring is meant to imitate the process of doctoring a sick steer out in the open. A steer is once again sorted out and pushed across a line where it is headed and heeled. Then, an “x” must be placed on either flank using a chalk marker.
Each event tests the contestants, and we all know that working with live animals adds in another challenging factor. But with lots of skill, and some luck, one of the crews competing becomes the Fort Bend County Fair Ranch Rodeo high point team. A buckle, money and a year’s worth of bragging rights are awarded to each of the team members.
The 2017 Fort Bend County Fair Ranch Rodeo Average Results:
1st Place Team: Fish Hook Cattle Co.
Team Member: Werth Garrett
2nd Place Team: B – B (B bar B)
Team Member: Andy Goff
3rd Place Team: 6E Ranch
Team Member: Josh Yelderman
Winner of the champion cow horse: Marty Rosenquest
Along with the high-point team, the champion cow horse is decided on by the judge, and the winning horse and rider also receive a buckle. Riding the top cow horse of the year is really a prestigious award, and throughout the rodeo each individual competitor does their best to show off their horse’s abilities in an attempt to receive the winning buckle. Without a solid horse, getting any of the events accomplished would be impossible, or at the very least much harder, and the top cow horse award really emphasizes the horse who shows the most skill.
Witnessing neighbors and friends who are skilled and passionate about what they do compete head to head in tough events in hopes of impressing the crowd and walking away with a buckle can be nothing short of entertaining, and the folks of Rosenberg, Texas certainly know how to put on a good show. The annual ranch rodeo has grown to be a yearly reminder of the county’s rich ranching heritage, and will hopefully continue to do so for years to come.