The Rodeo


These were the early days of rodeo...

Ranches matching their best bronc riders against another ranches' bronc riders on the rankest horses they owned.  Horses were raised to be tough and last all day long to work the big round-ups of cattle.  These horses dated back to the wild mustang and the better breeds brought over on ships from Europe.  The rodeo animals of today are "BORN TO BUCK" - it's in their blood.  Great animals don't come along as often as one might think.  These days, there are selective breeding programs throughout the United States and Canada.  Flying U has been raising bucking horses since the late 1960's and the bucking bull program, which was brought about by Julio Moreno's interest in the bull industry, began in the late 1980's.  Julio oversees the breeding of the stock, carefully choosing the right cows to cross with the best bucking bulls and the best bucking mares to cross on the stallions.

The bucking stock is the heart of a rodeo stock contracting outfit.  Flying U Rodeo Co. - one of the oldest continuing stock contracting companies in the world - needs the backup of hundreds of bucking horses and bulls throughout the year-long rodeo season and raises most all of their stock at their ranches in Marysville, CA.  A horse or bull may only buck four to six times a month, then will be turned out and another group of stock will go on the road.  This means that each animal works an average of only ten minutes a year...what a life!

One of Flying U's first bucking studs was a mustang-type named "Tennessee Stud", whose cross on "Harlem Babe" - a good little mare that came out of Watts (Los Angeles) - was fantastic!  She went on to produce many great bucking horses who eventually became Saddle Bronc horses at the National Finals Rodeo.  The daughters of "Harlem Babe" also gave birth to many of the red roans still seen in the Flying U Bucking string today.


There have also been many great bucking horses purchased by Flying U because their owners could not handle them.  "Astronaut" was a bridle horse gone sour who went on to compete at the NFR.  Another horse that made many a trip to the NFR was "Cal Expo", a former buggy horse who found a good home at the ol' Flying U.  "Short Fuse", a chunky little bay horse went on to become Bareback Horse of the Year in 1964.  These kind of horses don't come along very often, since their rank parents were weeded out of the herd and not bred back.  Athleticism and heart are the qualities to look for in good bucking stock.

The 1981-82 Bareback Horse of the Year, "Classic Velvet" was a dun gelding with the pedigree of working cow horse lines.  And, while his brothers and sisters made their mark in the show ring, "Classic" made his mark as one of the greatest bareback horses of all times.  Hundreds of thousands of dollars were won on this beautiful quarter horse from Sonoma County, who came to the Flying U after a group of cowboys all tried to ride him and - in turn - were all dusted!  "Classic" also had a brother who came to the Flying U as a pick-up horse and ended up an equine friend that the grandkids learned to rope on.

Today, Flying U boasts the likes of "Big Chill", a grey thoroughbred gone sour on the English show circuit.   "Big Chill" has made a couple of trips to the NFR and has the reputation of being one of the strongest horses in bareback riding, but is also so gentle that you'd think you could put a child up on his back.  The greatest mare in rodeo, "#363 Skoal Sally", is also a product of the Born to Buck Program.  She has bucked off many a champion cowboy and has also taken many to 80 or 90 point scores.  The best grey of all had to be "#39 Angel Blue" - the 1985-89 Saddle Bronc of the Year.  This award was voted on by fellow stock contractors at the NFR, thus it is a very prestigious and coveted honor.  A saddle bronc riders knew that if he drew "Angel Blue" that he would either be getting a paycheck or be getting bucked off!

The tough part about raising horses is that it takes so long to find out if you have a champion bucking horse.  The colts are not bucked until they are almost four years old and they may not prove themselves right away.  With younger, smaller riders, bulls can begin being bucked at two years of age.  All of these young bucking animals need to be brought along slow and easy, as not to scare them the first few times around.  They are brought to good arenas with excellent footing for them to buck on, as well as being put in well-maintained bucking chutes and corrals.

The Bucking Bull Program has come along very well in the recent years.  Julio started with some roping heifers and bred them to NFR bull "#9 Copenhagen One Eye" and "#74 Dodge Ram Tough" - a little black bull with a lot of heart.  Today, their offspring heifers are being crossed on "#97 Whitewater Skoal" and "#H7 Typhoon" - both great bulls with plenty of credentials.  "Whitewater Skoal" can be seen on TNN when the PBR travels to the West Coast for the Bud Light Cups.  "Typhoon" is now well over ten years old and lives a good life with a herd of cows.

Flying U Rodeo is looking forward to the future, when these young animals will be the next stars of professional rodeo.


Mane Event Drill Team to Return to 2011 Rodeo

At the 2010 Frank Bogert Memorial Rodeo, one of the highlights was the colorful flash of the Mane Event mounted drill team from the Coachella Valley area. These cowgirls exhibited patriotic pride as they proudly displayed Old Glory all three days of the rodeo. Four veteran riders who participated last year include Lynn Follstad, Sue Segal, Amber Ramirez and Tammy Freeman.

They have over 20 years experience in entertaining rodeo crowds and their colorful and patriotic high speed presentation of flags will get you to your feet.  Their seasoned riders will jog along the rails reaching out with handshakes and lots of smiles for great picture memory moments. Watch for them back in the arena in 2011!

Mane Event Drill Team Performing
The Mane Event Drill Team Performing in Palm Springs in 2010



The Riata Ranch Cowboy Girls have cemented their reputation as an international trick riding, trick roping and Roman riding troupe. They have made quite an impression on the professional rodeo trail with their choreographed one of a kind dance and trick roping routines and their thrilling trick riding stunts. It is truly a Trick Roping & Trick Riding Spectacular. They have appeared at rodeos across the United States such as Reno, Salinas, Pendleton, the Wrangler National Finals in Las Vegas, Reno rodeo, Pendleton Round Up, Salinas, Dodge City and many more around the country. They have traveled to 17 countries on four continents building their reputation as world class performers.
Their unique brand of entertainment has led to performances in professional sporting venues. Mostly for the NFL which includes several half time performances (including horses) for the San Francisco 49’ers, Barcelona Spain for the American Bowl, Monday Night Football and numerous Super Bowl appearances. The Riata Girls were in Lexington Kentucky where they were part of the opening ceremonies for the 2010 World Equestrian Games in which they choreographed a 9 minute trick roping segment with the accompaniment of the University of Kentucky Philharmonic Orchestra.
A performance by the Riata Ranch girls is like watching a Broadway show. The combination of dance choreographed with their trick ropes to music is entertaining. The same young women who just wowed you with trick roping skills, thrill you with dangerous but elegant stunts on horseback that will have you on the edge of your seat.


The Contest PDF Print E-mail

Rodeo contests are divided into two categories:

  1. Those which are scored by a judge...the rough stock events of bareback bronc riding, saddle bronc riding, and bull riding; and
  2. Those which are timed for speed...cowgirls barrel racing, steer wrestling, and the roping contests.

Riding broncs and roping calves are the events that were born on Western ranches. Being able to rope a calf or steer on the open range was a necessary skill if an animal required attention. Riding a bronky kind of horse was part of the territory, as many horses were green broke at best.

The contests of riding and roping require only two things of the horses and cattle... either to buck or to run, actions that are natural.

If you think about all the different disciplines in which horses are used... showing, racing, jumping, pleasure riding, etc.,... some kind of equipment is worn by the horse and something is used to communicate instruction to the animal.



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