Monday, July 3, 2000
Steamboat Springs It was just a few minutes before the start of Sunday's rodeo performance, and saddle bronc rider Todd Rangel was underneath the grandstands of the Romick Rodeo Arena going through a few last-minute stretches.
Rangel had rolled into town from the southern part of the state just in time for Steamboat's rodeo. However, it was just a brief stop; his travel plans had him headed to Pagosa Springs on Monday and Durango later this week.
"I've been drawing pretty good, but I'm just hoping to win enough money to go again next weekend," Rangel said.
Living this lifestyle has been a dream of the 19-year-old cowboy ever since he was able to climb up the fence and gaze into an arena.
"I've been doing this since I was a little kid," Rangel said. "This is what I've always wanted to do."
He got his start in rodeo when he was 9 years old. Since then, he has been working his way up the chutes for a shot at the professional level.
On Sunday night, the rookie came through in a big way in one of his first professional rides. He rode a rank bucking horse into the top three of the Steamboat Pro Rodeo standings by scoring 76 on the back of L12 Nine Bells.
But like most of the cowboys in this week's four-day Steamboat Rodeo, Rangel didn't have time to stick around. He got a little sleep Sunday evening, climbed back into the car on Monday and, along with his traveling partner Casey Van Belle, and hit the rodeo road headed for the next event and searching for another paycheck.
"This is my rookie year, so I'm not really sure what to expect," Rangel said.
The pair was planning to attend five rodeos this week. How they fare in those events will determine if they head home to New Mexico or head to another performance somewhere else.
This period, which surrounds the Fourth of July holiday, is known as "Cowboy Christmas."
It's a short period of time, but it can make or break any cowboy's season. A good run will leave the competitor sitting pretty for the rest of the summer. A bad run can be expensive and may result in the cowboy heading home in search of a 9-to-5 opportunity to pay the bills.
"It can be the place where you make most of your money," veteran cowboy William Hill said. "There are some good shows to go to over this holiday weekend and you can always make a buck or two. "
Hill said he will travel to three rodeos this weekend. He was in Kansas City, Mo., on Saturday, in Steamboat on Sunday and was headed to Colorado Springs on Monday for an invitational.
"I try to do it every weekend," Hill said of the rodeo. "I'm one of the lucky guys who gets to do it full time."
Hill said hitting the road on the holiday weekend is just kind of routine for a cowboy. He likes to spend his summer months on the Mountain States Circuit. He heads south in the winter for a circuit in Texas and Oklahoma.
For these cowboys, rodeo is as much a part of the holiday tradition as fireworks, flags and barbecues.
This weekend is traditionally the strongest at the Steamboat series, drawing more than a 1,000 spectators for each of the four performances. Today's show, which will start at 7 p.m., is expected to be the largest of the week. In addition to top competition, the rodeo will offer one of the best seats in Steamboat to watch the fireworks show which will immediately follow the end of the rodeo.
To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org