My 2011 tour of small-town California continued last weekend with my third rodeo in four weeks, the Mother Lode Round-Up in beautiful Sonora, CA. I shot this rodeo last year, and the Tuolumne County Sheriff's Posse was kind enough to have me back to shoot their first-class event. The Mother Lode is a true home town rodeo, featuring local team roping, team bronc riding, calf scramble and a kiddie rodeo in addition to the usual PRCA events.
The boot race is one of the Kiddie Rodeo events, and kids take off one of their boots and then have to run across the dirt, pick their boot out of the pile, and run back. I was literally lying in the dirt for this picture.
The Calf Scramble is part of the Kiddie Rodeo and the regular rodeo. One person has to pull a ribbon off of the calf's tail while the others try to control the calf. It's much harder than it sounds.
During the Calf Scramble, one of the announcers cracked that Wrangler was happy with the results, lots of torn clothing.
Team Bronc Riding is kind of insane. Each team has to strap a saddle on a wild horse and get a rider to cross the finish line. Most of the time, the horses just drag the guys around the arena.
The highlight of the Round-Up for me was Keith Roquemore's winning 83-point ride on Sache.
It was one of the best bull rides I've seen in a while, and from a rider who was involved in one of the scariest moments I've ever seen at a rodeo when Roquemore's hand got caught in his rigging and he was knocked unconscious at a PBR event at the Cow Palace in 2009.
Always good to see someone battle back from something like that.
While Roquemore was making it look easy, it seemed like all the other bull riders were catching air.
In other roughstock action, my friend Cesar "Kid" Banuelos had a nice ride going until he got bucked straight up off of Beautiful Disaster.
George Gillespie IV won the bareback competition with an 82 on Red Headed Step Child.
I was rooting for Clovis Crane in the saddle bronc event because he's a rare rider from my home state of Pennsylvania, but he (and his bright orange shirt and mirrored shades) bailed looking right at me.
I got some pretty dramatic pictures of the timed events, probably thanks to getting the timing down from Red Bluff and Clovis.
Ryle Smith won the all-around buckle with money in both steer wrestling and tie-down roping.
This was the first rodeo where I wore my new cowboy hat from beginning to end, and I'm already used to it.
Some early clips: