Pioneer Days offers hands-on look at roping, riding

Wild Bill Cathey, of Dora, left, demonstrates to Dalton Wren, 9, of Texico how to spin a rope Thursday during the Curry County Mounted Patrol’s rodeo encounter at the county fairgrounds. (Staff photo: Eric Kluth)

By Ryn Gargulinski: CNJ Staff writer

It wasn’t Holly Tyler’s first time on a horse — she rode one in England two years ago — but that didn’t stop her from letting loose a high-pitched wail when the horse suddenly backed up.

Tyler, who was being led around on a horse named Bo, was one of dozens of children and adults who learned about roping and riding Thursday during the Curry County Mounted Patrol’s rodeo encounter at the county fairgrounds.

Held before the opening night of the 35th annual Pioneer Days PRCA rodeo, the first-year event featured rodeo performers and mechanical calves and horses in an effort to educate fans about the sport.

Tyler, 13, and her family moved to the Clovis area from England six months ago when her dad took a job with the cheese plant.

“There’s no rodeos in England,” said her mother, Jayne Tyler. “All we know is what we’ve seen in the movies. This is excellent. We get a chance to experience what it’s really like.”

Meanwhile, Lucy Tyler, 7, much preferred the mechanical horse to the flesh-and-blood version her sister rode.

“The fake one lets you gallop, instead of just walking really slooow like a zombie,” she said.

Brother Harry Tyler, 9, repeatedly roped a wooden calf. “He’s good with his hands,” said mom, who added she would not be at all upset if her children decided to be cowboys.

“I can’t picture Holly as a cowgirl, but I’d be fine with it as long as they’re happy,” she said.

Jayne Tyler was not the only mom at the Rodeo Encounter who wouldn’t mind if her children grew up to be cowboys. In fact, Clovis mother of two Bobbi Dawsey once had rodeo dreams of her own.

“When I was a little girl, I wanted to be the fastest barrel racer,” she said.

Dawsey grew up around horses and cattle in Washington state and recalls a photo her mother took of her at 18 months old atop a horse.

A military spouse, Dawsey said it would delight her if her two sons Alex and Ryan, who already have their rooms done up in western decor, chased the cowboy life.

“Either cowboys or football players,” Dawsey said of ideal careers for her boys, although she would prefer, ironically, that the football isn’t played with the Dallas Cowboys.

A mechanical bull was on hand at the encounter, but it was not hooked up and only there for photos. The presence of the bull itself surprised neighbor Tommy Grindstaff, who accompanied the Dawseys to the event.

“I thought they only had those in bars,” Grindstaff said.
Another Clovis native, Marian Hand, recently moved back to New Mexico after being gone for 20 years. This time she brought her husband Todd, originally from Pittsburgh but now in Boston.

“She dragged me out here,” said Todd Hand, who had been in town three weeks and was already feeling the call of the wild — horses, that is.

“When Marian came out three weeks earlier to buy the house,” he said, “she called me and said we bought the house and it comes with a horse.”

Although Todd Hand said he was able to talk his wife out of the horse “for now,” he said he would not be at all disappointed or surprised if his children grew up to be cowboys and cowgirls.

“I think they’re already halfway there.”