Tryon – Cowboys from North and South America came to Tryon this past weekend to compete in the fourth annual Round-up Rodeo at the Foothills Equestrian Nature Center (FENCE). Approximately 1800 spectators turned out to enjoy breakaway roping and barrel racing, cheer on the team roping and hold their breath during the bronc and bull riding. Other events included saddle bronc and bareback riding and tie-down roping.
“It’s a great event for the community,” said FENCE Executive Director, Tracie Hanson. “The rodeo is really fun for families.”
According to Hanson, the rodeo is a great fund raiser, with proceeds going to all FENCE programs and to the Therapeutic Riding Program of Tryon (TROT).
“We want to thank all our sponsors, especially our presenting sponsors, Bryan Easler Toyota in Hendersonville and The Hay Rack in Landrum,” Hanson said. “We couldn’t do it without them.”
The event attracts cowboys and cowgirls from North and South Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, and other nearby states. A few contestants came from as far away as Canada and Brazil.
“These cowboys are competing for international points,” said Pam Treadway, co-owner of Ken Treadway Rodeo Company.
The Treadway Rodeo Company, located in Laurens, S.C., is sanctioned by the International Pro Rodeo Association. Pam Treadway’s husband, Ken Treadway, is a second-generation rodeo company owner and grew up in Asheville.
The company currently owns the current world champion saddle bronc and the current world champion bareback bronc. Such titles are awarded to the horses or bulls voted the best by the contestants.
“The animals are as big stars as the cowboys,” said Pam Treadway. “The rodeo fans have their favorites and are very devoted.”
Treadway said that caring for, and honoring the animals is an important part of the rodeo. She added that the rodeo gives a good life to many horses that would otherwise be abused or even put down because no one could ride them.
The horses, bulls, and calves live on pastures and work eight seconds a night for one or two nights only a few weeks out of the year. Treadway said the animals’ health and well-being are priorities.
“They have to be healthy and feel good to do what they do,” she said, adding that the rodeo association has strict guidelines for animal care. “Everything is about protecting the animals and treating them the way they should be treated. We prefer it that way.”
Most of the horses are Quarter Horses, some have draft blood, and some are mustangs. Treadway frequently gets calls from people asking her to take horses because they’ve bucked off all the trainers.
“A lot of these horses buck for two to three years, then decide they don’t want to buck anymore,” she said. “So we ride them on the ranch and/or rope them off. We’re able to give them a good life, when otherwise they would have been put down.”
The event opened with riders galloping into the arena carrying red, white, and blue flags. The announcer told the story behind the different colors in the United States flag. Then, Miss American Bull Riders Tour, Haven Jarman, of Wadesboro, dressed in red, white and blue sparkles and mounted on a black and white painted horse, galloped into the arena bearing the U.S. flag. The crowd stood for a prayer and the singing of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
FENCE has year-round activities for the entire family, such as nature and horse camps, horse shows, schooling days for equestrians, concerts, dog shows, golf tournaments, and other family events. For more information about FENCE, visit www.fence.org/nature-center.
Other upcoming equestrian events this summer include the Tryon Riding and Hunt Club Charity II Horse Show, July 5-19 at the Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC). Every Saturday in July, TIEC also features Saturday Night Lights, offering free entertainment for the entire family, including world-class equestrian hunter/jumper and dressage competitions and national pony championships. For more information about upcoming TIEC events and Saturday Night Lights, visit www.tryon.com.