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Rodeo school ropes in students


John Paul Schmidt

Colton Zubach throws a lasso in preparation for the rodeo in Great Falls Tuesday.

Ropers were practicing their sport at the rodeo school Tuesday in preparation for this week's rodeo and to improve their skills in general.

The rodeo school at Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation at the Sybil Sangrey-Colliflower Memorial Arena began Monday and will continue until Thursday.

Preston Williams and Nolan Conway were giving pointers to students of all skill levels and ages on how to rope calves.

Williams, 39, is originally from Nevada with the Shoshone Tribe, but now lives in Temecula, California.

He said they had around 10 or 12 students Tuesday. He said Monday they began the day with groundwork and then moved on to some basic roping where he taught the students some tying techniques.

"Then we roped off a horse for the rest of the afternoon," Williams said.

They had a similar schedule Tuesday to give more pointers on technique.

Rocky Boy youth were also giving a fresh coat of paint to the white barricades, tables and bleachers around the arena to prepare the space for the rodeos as the school prepared the competitors.

Williams said he teaches classes like the one he is giving in Rocky Boy often and that he will be participating in the weekend Indian National Finals Rodeo-sanctioned rodeo in the same arena. He will be competing in the calf roping and team roping events at the rodeo.

Williams was the 2009 world champion roper and has won eight INFR titles.

He said he has been competing in rodeos since he was old enough to enter and had his start at junior rodeos similar to the one slated for Thursday at Rocky Boy.

Lauren Four Colors, 17, was one of Williams' students both Monday and Tuesday. She said she plans to compete in the INFR as well in the ladies' breakaway and barrel racing.

She said she was practicing her breakaway Tuesday morning and received some good tips.

"I feel like before, I was having trouble sliding my horse over, so it really helped," Four Colors said.

She said she had never been to a school like this and that it was helping her.

Four Colors and 14 other youths received the classes for free under a program created by Stone Child College. Admission to the school was $50 per person.

Eric Watson, 50, was also a student Tuesday. He has been rodeoing since he was 15 and attended the class to fine-tune his technique.

"We started off with some groundwork," Watson said. "They helped me with some of the finer points of it."

They worked on flanking and tying and then roping the dummy calf.

"I've been doing good this year, but I needed the tune up to help me," Watson said. "They watch and see what I need to do differently."

Watson will be competing in the calf roping, team roping, senior breakaway and senior team roping at the weekend rodeo.

The bronc riding portion of the school is set for Thursday, but Watson said he did not know if there would be enough students signed up for it. He said the popularity of bronc riding with younger competitors is declining not just in the reservation, but across the nation.

Williams said the school was a learning experience for everyone.

"We have kids who have never tied a calf before and then students like Eric here, who has been in rodeos longer than I have," Williams said. "You can always learn something. I can learn something from my students and though Eric's been doing it longer than I have, he's picked up a few things.

"It's not hard to learn at all if you pay attention and your mind is open."


Reader Comments

jimbo writes:

sicko of negatives....eric w sold out his heritage to get the money from the redskins foundation.....

Sicofnegatives writes:

If you think roping cows is cruel what about eating them? And, way to go Eric for knowing how important practice is no matter how old or good you might already be. Those who can do, those who can't, write negative articles in the newspaper.

Bro writes:

Roping cows is just cruel! If you don't think so how about we replace the cows with dogs, cats, or better yet, humans? We, as a society, would NEVER think of the later.

jimbo writes:

Eric W if you haven't learned to rope by now it's too late...


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