No horsing around
Future of high school rodeo program uncertain
Steamboat Springs — When Kaylee Myers rides her horse, Gabby Bar, off into the sunset two years from now, there is no guarantee that the high school rodeo program won’t ride off with her.
“In a way, I think it might fade away to where there might be nobody,” said Kaylee, who is a junior at Steamboat Springs High School.
There are about 15 members on the Steamboat Springs rodeo team this season, but Kaylee is the only one competing.
The rest of the team attends practices and helps with fund-raising, coach Karen Myers said.
But they are not able to compete for several reasons.
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For one, money is an issue.
Former Steamboat Springs bareback rider Chad Vale spent about $700 on equipment last year, he said.
“If you really want to compete at the upper level, you’re going to have to spend a lot of money,” Vale said.
A good horse, Vale said, can run several-thousand dollars.
And a competitor on the rodeo team also needs a horse trailer, and a truck to pull it to the event.
Many team members also do not have a lot of experience, Karen Myers said.
Kaylee, who is competing in Pueblo this weekend, is concerned about the future of the program.
“We worked so hard last year to get the rodeo team started and to get tons of sponsors,” Kaylee said.
“We get disappointed thinking about the future and what if something happens to it.”
Kaylee helped start the team last year with teammates Jake Reinier and Meagen Whiteside.
At least four students competed on the 2000 team, including Vale, who is now a senior.
Vale is not out for the team this season because he is trying to save money for college, he said.
A shortage of practice facilities also has made it difficult for those trying to gain experience.
Steamboat has only one place to train, which is the Routt County Fairgrounds in Hayden.
Karen Myers said one of the goals will be to try to recruit junior high school students into next year’s program.
“It just kind of baffles me,” Myers said. “In a town like this, you’d think there would be a lot of kids (in the program), but there isn’t.
“Here, we promote the western way of life. I’ve got 15 kids and some of them have horses, but they’re not doing it.”
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