Glenrock riders square off for county fair Gymkhana

Harrison Epstein photo
Glenrock’s Lance Schenck zips between the poles during the Gymkhana’s poles event.

Harrison Epstein

There’s two main options for headgear. Most of the younger kids at the Converse County Fair’s 20 Mile Roping Club Youth Gymkhana went with the classic look, a cowboy hat and sunglasses. Others, thanks to parental supervision and care, went with a bicycle helmet.

From children who needed help riding their horses, to recently graduated seniors, the county fair Gymkhana was an event for all ages to ride and show their skills. The event was held in the Grandstands Arena and featured kids from around the state competing in five events.
They had the option of doing the barrel racing, poles, flags, keyhole and goats. Everyone who came out to the event had their own reasons. Some of the children loved riding horses, some wanted to win, others like 9-year-old Gracie Tillard had a simpler desire.
“I like going fast,” she said.
With a team of timers waiting in the announcer’s booth keeping an eye on the flag waver, Tillard and the rest of the riders had ample opportunity to go fast. The youngest of the competitors were the first to go in all events, beginning with the lead lines.
Most of the lead liners were between one and three years old, with the group getting their name after the necessity of leaders. Parents and family friends would find a way to guide the horses for the youngsters.
Owen Smith and his horse were led by his dad, Alex, who walked in front, carrying the horse’s rope. ManDee Moore of Douglas rode with Lusk’s Lucy Brott, a family friend, together on the back of their horse.
Despite having some of the slowest times in the different events, the lead line and tony tots, between four and six, stole the show for the observers. The different age groups were a representation of not just physical growth, but growth of ability.
The lead liners could ride horses just fine, but needed assistance to guide them from place to place. The tiny tots were figuring out how to ride on their own and go through the different events, with little attention paid to times and scores.
The seven- to 9-year-olds in the peewee group were starting to control their horses and ride in a more competitive fashion. The juniors can get to full competition mode for rodeos. While it’s still a hobby and activity, the preteens strive to win and get the best times possible.
For the senior group, it’s real. Rodeo for teenagers to young adults, the age group ends with those who just graduated high school, is competition. At this age, they can start focusing and deciding if they want to stick strong to rodeo.
Some will take the opportunities to go to college and continue doing rodeo, others can jump right into the field as professionals and others can use it for recreation. As much as any ride, the county fair gymkhana was a family affair.
While there were over 60 competitors signing up and trying their hands at the course, many belonged to the same families, including several from Glenrock. Sisters Josey and Faye Lankister continued their week of Douglas activities following the state shoot and other county fair rodeo events. Three consecutive age groups had a member of the Schenck clan. Izzy Schenck was a tiny tot, Lance Schenck a peewee and Clarissa Schenck was a member of the juniors age group.
Douglas siblings Mick and Emma Velazquez ran as a tiny tot and peewee, respectively. Mick, riding on Rony Pony, had a simple goal.
“I just like to ride and my favorite part is to win,” he said.
Despite having her parents and brother right next to her, Emma said that getting to be with Cindy Lou is what made rodeo special. Despite claiming that she’s only ridden on Cindy Lou for a week, her mother chimed in to say it’s been more like two years that the pair has been together. Cindy Lou was originally her mother’s rodeo queen horse, but now belongs to Emma.
She said, “Nobody rides her but my mom and me, ’cause she doesn’t like anyone else.”
Because of time constraints, and spending most of her time practicing flags, she didn’t have a chance to work on her goat tying. After nearly five hours in the grandstands, the overhead lights were shut off and the gymkhana came to a close. Five different riders won events in lead line, the only category with that level of parity.
Annie Mae Moore won three of the events for the tiny tots, while the other two were won by Andy Lillard. Izzy peaked with a pair of second place finishes in keyhole and flags.
For the peewees, it was Haylee Gibbs and Alyssa Dickau each taking home a single event win.
The other three events were all won by Tillard, going just fast enough. For the juniors, Keen Coffman took home the win in flags, Clarissa Schenck was the keyhole champion and Tessa Manning took home the winning time in barrels, poles and goats.
The only member of the senior age class to take home more than one win was Kayten Dickau with two. Faye also collected first place in poles with 22.64 seconds. 


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