Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Ranch Rodeo action heats up a fair

| August 4, 2022 12:00 AM

With temperatures in the 90s even in the shade, four teams of four and their steeds gathered to compete against each other in the annual Ranch Rodeo at the Lake County Fair.

The west bleachers were nearly filled to capacity with fans who would not be put off by the searing heat. The event, organized by Paul and Sharon Guenzler has become a welcome fixture at the conclusion of the fair. As with the fair, it is a free event to attend.

The participants in the event include local cowboys and cowgirls who regularly carry out similar work on their ranches.

The four-person teams consisted of two pairs that were matched up just before the event began. This year’s event had two father-son pairs, another father and son who competed on different teams, three teenagers, one cowgirl, and one hardy cowboy who claims to be 64 — but moves like a much younger man.

The three team events consisted of branding, mugging and a combined event. In the branding event teams headed and healed two steers. Then one team member scurried to a bucket that had a flour and water concoction in which they dipped the branding iron, ran to the roped animals, branded them and then returned the iron to the bucket to stop the clock.

In the mugging event, teams had to rope a steer, wrestle it to the ground, tie up three feet, and then race back to their horses. The clock stopped when all team members were again mounted. Fortunately for one team the rules did not state that they must mount their own horse as two members of the team found it much more expedient for the younger member to race to the horses that had wandered farther away while the other nabbed and mounted the closer horse.

The combined event involved cutting out and herding two calves into the back of a trailer, doctoring another, and team roping two more. All of the teams were quite efficient in this event — probably through much practice of these activities on their own ranches. They may not have won a team roping event in a regular rodeo, but on a ranch the goal is to “get ‘er done” and that they did.

The winning team in the Ranch Rodeo consisted of Blake Nuffer, Ryle Lytle, and father and son Kelly and Koy McAllister. This team apparently had the magic mix as it had the oldest participant, the youngest participant and one of the father-son pairs.

Each of the team members received a prize of a breast collar for their efforts. The second place team was made up of Will Harris, Hallie Nelson, Jack McAllister and Levi Guenzler and were awarded head stalls for their efforts.

After the team events, an additional event, Rope and Ride, pitted individuals against each other. In this event each of the participants competed by first roping a calf and then continuing directly to barrel racing through a normal barrel pattern. The top three finishers in this event were 1st-Levi Guenzler, 2nd-Paul Guenzler, and 3rd Blake Nuffer.

Sponsors of this exciting, down in the dirt event were Northwest Counties Farm Bureau, Western Montana Stockman’s Association and Montana Livestock Auction—owned by Blake Nuffer.

In addition the stock in the event were provided by Montana Livestock Auction, Paul and Sharon Guenzler, and Zeb Lytle.


Team members Hallie Nelson, Jack McAllister, and Levi McAllister tend to the steer after 'branding while Will Harris kicks up dust in his haste to return the branding iron to the bucket in order to stop the clock. (Marla Hall/Lake County Leader)


Paul Guenzler, Hallie Nelson, Tanner Berg, and Will Harris chase down a steer in the combined event during the Ranch Rodeo. (Marla Hall/Lake County Leader)


Blake Nuffer, Ryle Lytle and Koy McAllister complete the 'mugging' as KellyMcAllister begins to head off to recover the horses that have moved away from the action. (Marla Hall/Lake County Leader)

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