WEST VALLEY CITY — Even John Wayne couldn't tame the horses in the Days of '47 Rodeo. In the movies, the bucking broncs settle down and accommodate their riders.
The bareback horses, the bulls and the saddle broncs are all bred to buck. Down on the ranch of Jeff and Wendie Flitton in Chester, Sanpete County, ranch foreman Jared Rydalch says, "Some horses won't be broken."
Before rodeo, this type of horse was cast out and rendered useless. Today, these animals are bred for rodeo.
"We almost lost this breed," Jeff Flitton explained. "But now we breed it back. Temperament is the most important thing. A horse or a bull needs to know that he can win."
Imagine that. Without such personalities, there would be no rodeo.
The Flitton ranch stocks some 300 bucking horses and about 100 fierce bulls. Flitton further explained that some bulls are valued at upward of $150,000.
Trying to further define these bulls, Flitton said, "We don't want them wild, but they need to be determined."
The bulls were indeed determined Friday night at the Maverik Center, as only three of 15 riders posted a score. One of those was Chad Cole of Salem, who earned a score of 74 points, tying for second with the current No. 1 in the world, Shawn Hogg of Odessa, Texas. First place in the bull riding category went to Friday Wright, of Moss Point, Miss., with a score of 84.
Utahn Caleb Bennett almost took down Kelly Timberman, ranked No. 1 in the world in the bareback riding event. Bennett posted a 78 to Timberman's 79. Bennett, from Bluffdale, said Timberman, from Wyoming, is his traveling partner.
"I tell him all the time," said Bennett, "that I'm going to beat him. But it just hasn't happened."
Bennett attended Bear River High School and has been in rodeo since his freshman year there. He is now 22 years old and, in 2008, he finished 17th in the world in riding bareback broncs.
Plain City's Ryan Shaw won the steer wrestling event, posting a time of 4.2 seconds.
"You just have to ride the line," he said.
That means you have to have the right timing at the start gate — not too soon and not too late.
"I got a good steer," he added.
What does that mean? "He's slower and lets you catch him."
As a 15-year veteran, he doesn't ride broncs or bulls. He used to do team roping but said, "I got sick of that."
Rodeo is not shy about breaking out patriotic pomp and ceremony. To begin the evening, the audience was led in the Pledge of Allegiance. After a prayer, two soldiers in uniform rappelled down from the rafters presenting the U.S. flag for the national anthem.
One injury occurred when Ryley Johnson of Lehi over-jumped his steer trying to wrestle it to the ground. The extent of his injury is not known.
Other event winners Friday night:
Tie-down roping: Roger Nonella, Klamath Falls, Ore.
Barrel racing: Maegan Reichert, Mount Pleasant, Texas.
Team roping: Steve Sherwood, Grace, Idaho, and Cole Wilson, Lehi.
Saddle bronc riding: Chuck Schmidt, Keldron, S.D.
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