This week I’m spotlighting the Pendleton Round-Up. They just celebrated 103 years of rodeo. Pendleton is a rodeo like no other. Their arena is so large a football field fits in the center with room for a race track around the outside.
Big arenas are plentiful in the Pacific Northwest, but most keep the events standard. Roper’s cattle are in a chute and they ask for them to be turned out when they are ready. Barrel patterns are set on a standard course.
Pendleton has taken the size of their arena and made changes that make it unique in the world of rodeo. Ropers still stand in a regulation box and call for their roping cattle. The cattle come from behind the grandstands and are pushed up an alleyway with someone yelling, “Started, halfway,” etc. They also run downhill to enter the arena which speeds things up considerably. The roping events take place on the grass infield which adds an element of danger, well, another element of danger, because rodeo is dangerous all on its own.
This photo is former World Champion Team Roper Clay O’Brien Cooper. He was just about ready to throw his rope when his horse slipped on the grass. Both horse and rider walked away from the wreck, but I’ll bet they were sore the next day.
Another event that Pendleton has made it’s own is the barrel racing. In most arenas that are big enough, the standard measurements are set at 90 feet between the first and second barrels and 105 feet from the second to third. At Pendleton, the pattern is almost twice that distance. The barrels are set in the dirt and the girls race their horses across the grass to compete.
This style of barrel racing is unique to the Pendleton Round-Up. Where a normal winning run is in the mid seventeen seconds, at the Pendleton Round-Up, the fastest time this year was 28.22 seconds.
Even with the barrels set in the dirt, the ground can be slick if the rider doesn’t set her horse up correctly for the turns, causing a dangerous fall.
This horse and rider survived the crash without serious injury.
A big part of the Round-Up is a celebration of Indian Heritage, with pageants, dancing and handmade jewelry.
If you ever get a chance to attend Pendleton, make sure you save plenty of time. The rodeo, Happy Canyon, the Cowboy Hall of Fame, and downtown Pendleton are just a few of the sights you’ll want to see. Close to 100 venders are set up just outside of the rodeo grounds with all types of handmade jewelry.
Have you ever attended the Pendleton Round-Up? What did you like best?