Rodeo camp teaches basics

DAYTON – For somebody riding a bareback bronc that’s trying desperately to get them off its back, getting your hand caught in the rope – known as a hangup – can have some serious consequences.

Colton Buchanon, of St. Charles, who was attending the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Championship Rodeo Camp at the Dayton Rodeo Ground Saturday, explained what they were.

“You can break a wrist,” he said. “Or get stepped on.”

Buchanon, who’s been riding for several years, learning how to get out a potentially dangerous situation was just one of many basic skills the group of 17 students worked on.

Terry Coleman, of Fort Dodge, helped pass his skills on to the young riders. He is also an assistant coach for the Iowa Central Community College rodeo team.

He stresses several things, one of them is getting the fundamentals right.

“It’s where you have you start,” he said. “You have to learn the proper form.”

Then you do it over again.

“Three-fourths of our team workouts are nothing but fundamentals,” he said.

He also emphasizes having not only the right equipment, but quality equipment.

“It’s purely an investment,” he said,

Clayton Wiedering, 17, of Lake City, found the camp a great way to spend time with friends and work on his spurring technique. Spurring is the leg hold used to help grip the horse as it bucks.

“Everything else,” he said. “I have pretty much down.”

Of course, slowed down to practice speeds, moving your legs just right as the horse sways back and forth looks pretty easy. Doing it full speed on a real animal is a different story.

It’s not as easy as it looks.

“No,” he said. “Not at all.”

Colten Bills, 17, of Dayton, has been away from the rodeo arena since August 5, 2012, when he suffered a serious injury.

He’s been working on coming back since.

To say getting back in the saddle – even on a simulator – was making him happy might be a bit of an understatement.

“This is overwhelming happiness,” he said. “It’s a huge burst of confidence.”

He found out that he still had the ability to perform the basic moves, it’s just a matter of getting clearance from his doctors.

“I know I can do it again,” he said.

Rodeo can indeed be a dangerous sport, even for a professional.

Jake Griffin, of Riverton, Wyo., one of the instructors at the camp, has a copy of his neck X-ray. Even a layman can see where it’s broken next to the clamp and the screw used to put it back together.

He enjoys teaching students since he is unable to compete. He said that by offering camps like Saturday’s where students can get the basics, it helps them become better and safer riders.

“We could have saved 15 steps in the process,” he said. “This is a great place to learn.”

Parental support is important, too.

Michelle Buchanon, Colton Buchanon’s mom, readily admits that her son being involved with the sport makes her a bit nervous. However, she said feels the danger is outweighed by the benefits. She said her son has learned about respect and other important values as a participant.

They prepare for each ride together.

“Right before Colton goes, I go behind the chute and say a prayer with him,” she said.

Watching her son actually ride is another thing. She said she won’t watch him come out of the chute but once past that, opens her eyes.

“I have to,” she said.