The excitement and revelry of the Old West are renewed in newer generations, thanks in part to events like the Chaves County Sheriff’s Posse Rodeo Play Days.
About 60 children and teens — from kindergarteners through older teens — competed in the annual event, but only two savvy contestants walked (or rode) away with coveted, commemorative saddles.
Richard Scott, president of the Chaves County Sheriff’s Posse, said the play days take place from April through September. Children and teens compete in events such as barrel racing, goat tying, Figure 8, flag racing, and calf roping.
Just like a rodeo, it’s not about being judged — it’s about who completes the tasks at hand in the shortest amount of time. Scott said many of the youngsters who compete are also involved with 4-H and Future Farmers of America, but not all. Many of them do, however, have years of rodeo experience under their belt buckles.
“Some of these kids started at 2 years old and stay until they graduate from high school,” Scott said.
With a big smile Makaeli Burkham, 11, said she’s been riding a horse her whole life.
“I started when I was about two or three,” she said. “It’s just fun.” She won a groom kit for participating.
Burkham lives on a cattle ranch in Malaga, N.M. She competed with her horse, Chapo.
“You can learn a lot from (horses),” she added. “Especially about patience.”
Sandra Creamer, 18, won All-Around Cowgirl for Play Days 2011, and now has a brand new saddle emblazoned with the title to prove it.
“It feels good,” she said of beating the other cowgirls for the title. “I’ve been trying (to win) for like two years now.”
Jeanne Creamer, Sandra’s mother, said her daughter was proud of the accomplishment she felt her horse, Comanchi, helped her achieve. Sandra’s words to her mother when she won were “she (Comanchi) won me this, Mom.”
Jeanne Creamer said her daughter trained Comanchi. She is hopeful that her daughter — a senior at Artesia High School — will go to college.
Sandra Creamer said one of her choices for college is Eastern New Mexico University in Portales, and that she plans to study to be a veterinary technician.
All-Around Cowboy went to Zach Gallegos, runner-up for the title was Riley Hestand. Runner-up for All-Around Cowgirl was Jordan Gaines.