Fond memories were abundant at this year’s Rosewood Rodeo, held at Great Bend Expo III Arena last Saturday. It marked the 15th consecutive October that Rosewood held its therapeutic rodeo for people with developmental disabilities. More than 30 equine therapy riders from Rosewood Ranch took part in the milestone rodeo, including five horse riders who have participated in every Rosewood Rodeo since the inaugural one in 2005.
“Initially, it doesn’t seem like it’s been 15 rodeos until I start thinking back through the years and then on second and third thought, it’s like ‘Wow, we’ve really had some amazing experiences for our riders through the years.’ It is inspiring to know that some of our original riders are still riding all of these years later and have been involved in every rodeo. That probably is the most incredible thing that came to mind at this year’s rodeo and made the significance of this year’s event really set in for me.”
Competing in their 15th Rosewood Rodeo were Robin Bethel, Shaun Ledesma, Jere McCutchen, Mary Minear, and Josh Trimmer. They were joined this year by participants Crystal Alkire, Pam Babcock, Kammi Bennett, Keith Boyer, Darren Brown, Vance Cornwell, Chris Devine, Jonathan Folkerts, Codie Hardie, Taylor Hertach, Ashley Hullet, Johnathan Howe, DJ Johnson, Rita Mestas, Tyler Michaelis, Samantha Purcell, Josh Rader, Angie Rogers, Josh Trimmer, Andy Schultz, Dawn Specht, Abbey Stanley, Debbie Wasinger, and Jim Wonsetler.
All rodeo riders participate in equine therapy throughout the year at Rosewood Ranch, which exists to help people with disabilities, and is located approximately five miles north of Pawnee Rock. The rodeo is the day they get to showcase their abilities to family and friends.
In addition to the adult riders, Rosewood’s youth riders, involved in the Children’s Horse Therapy Program, participated in a trail pattern event at the beginning of the rodeo. At the end of each of their rides, the youth riders received a ribbon for their participation and they were photographed with their family members. Youth riders participating were: Kanye Cross, Elaine Emerson, Ethan Harr, Gentry Ramsey, and Dakota Skinner.
One aspect that was different this year is that therapy horse “Harriett” participated in her first rodeo due to the passing of longtime therapy horse “Dolly” last summer. But even that uncertainty wound up working out perfectly for the day.
“All the other therapy horses, we knew what their attitude was going to be in front of an audience and with a bit of arena noise,” explained Hammond. “But she did really well with our riders and our staff. We couldn’t have asked for better at her first rodeo.”
Immediately following the rodeo, awards were presented. Keith Boyer earned the medal for “Best Cowboy Spirit;” Josh Trimmer was named “Most Improved Rider,” and Tyler Michaelis won the “Most Inspirational Leader” award.
Ribbons were presented to participants for Trails, along with Barrel and Horsemanship events. The clients competed in three levels, depending on their riding ability: rider with lead and side-walker, rider with lead, and independent rider.
During the awards ceremony, high point and reserve awards were presented to Horse Show participants. The adult therapy riders were recognized in front of their peers and spectators for earning the most points in their respective categories during Horse Show Days at Rosewood Ranch throughout the spring and summer. Sashes were awarded to a dozen winners, representing three divisions in the categories of trail and horsemanship. Awards were also presented for showmanship.
Winners in each respective category were: High Point Trail - Tori Rose, Ashley Hullet, Mary Minear; Reserve Trail – Johnathan Howe , Dawn Specht, Kammi Bennet; High Point Horsemanship – Taylor Hertach, Samantha Purcell, Shaun Ledesma; Reserve Horsemanship – Jere McCutchen, Abbey Stanley, Crystal Alkire; High Point Showmanship – Jimmy Wonsetler; Reserve Showmanship – Josh Trimmer.
Other events throughout the day added to the rodeo experience. They included two performances by the award winning all-female Twisters of the Heartland horse-riding drill team. The Residential Team won the staff competition against the Administration and Day Services Teams. A silent auction of items donated by local businesses was held to raise money, with proceeds from the auction going to Rosewood’s Roots and Wings Foundation. A tack shop also provided items for sale, selling items made by Rosewood clients who work at Rosewood Studio. Games and activities entertained children throughout the day. A pulled pork lunch, along with a variety of concession items, was available for purchase during the rodeo. The Honorable Kansas Supreme Court Justice Dan Biles provided the invocation during the Rodeo grand entry ceremony, which began the day’s events.
More than 50 people helped at this year’s event, which was organized by the Rosewood Rodeo Committee, led by rodeo chairman Anna Hammond.
“An event of this magnitude cannot take place without the tremendous efforts and expertise of many,” said Rosewood Service Executive Director Tammy Hammond. “It starts with Anna as the organizer of it all, but everyone has their intricate and important part to play. It’s only because we’ve been doing this event for so many years, and we pay attention to every detail, that this day turns out so perfectly for those we serve each year. We are thankful to all volunteers, attendees, sponsors and auction donors who combined to make our 15th annual rodeo such a success for our riders and their families.”
Find more about Rosewood Services online at rosewoodservices.com.