Photo © Jason Lugo

“Once you put your boots on, you’re going all the way.” -Kim Frandsen

Like packing dynamite into a hole, Kim Frandsen settles himself down on the back of his bronc. Keeping a wary eye on the head of his horse, he knows it’s the most dangerous part of the ride. Seconds later the gate swings open and both horse and rider explode into the arena of Southern Idaho’s Oakley Ranch Rodeo.  Cracking a bullwhip and jangling cowbells tied to the saddle, Kim sends the bronc arching in the dusky sky.

Photo © Jason LugoWith years of training on his father’s cattle ranch in Bancroft, Idaho, Kim brings talented competition to one of the toughest and highest paid ranch rodeos in the Western circuit.

In only its fourth season, Oakley Ranch Rodeo has made a reputation for itself. “Some of the toughest teams compete here,” observes team finalist and winner John Ward of Dillon, “It’s one of the best ranch rodeos.”  John, with twin brother Jason, has competed all three years at Oakley Ranch Rodeo going on to Winnemucca, Nevada.

Different in nature from the PRCA (Professional  Rodeo Cowboy Association), ranch rodeos use the hard-earned skills of real working cowboys to compete in cutting, branding, doctoring, horse roping and trailer loading.

Photo © Jason LugoFor decades, cattlemen gathered their cattle off outlying property to separate and make ready for market. For cattle owners, taking cattle off feed to brand, sort and doctor meant loss of weight and dollars for ranchers who hired out the process.  Speed was an important factor in processing the cattle.  Cowboys adept at roping, marking, branding and vaccinating cattle as well as breaking horses were often sought after for their skills.  As a pastime, cowboys gathered to show off their skills and share tips.  These competitions became tradition and the commercial rodeo was born.

Unlike pro rodeo that streamline rodeo events and use horses that are honed for the ride, ranch rodeos often bring in broncos that are running wild on the desert days before their first ride. “The wilder the animal the better,” says Frandsen.   Ropes that ranch rodeo competitors work with are also longer (60 feet) than pro rodeo (35 feet) requiring more control and skill.  Most competitors come right from work to compete in some of the most grueling competitions in cowboy skills.

Photo © Jason Lugo

Weston Warr competes in the Stock Saddle Bronc riding.

Seeing the need for more authentic events in ranch rodeo, Steven Babbitt and Broden Mathews, both of Oakley, Idaho, began the Oakley Ranch Rodeo in 2007. Teaming up with Pfizer Pharmaceutical Company and Toby Hoffman, Three Bar Cattle Company and Eugene Mathews, Babbitt and Mathews have created an event that brings in stiff competition from over four states.  Held in Southern Idaho’s Great Oakley Basin, south of Burley, teams from Nevada, Wyoming, Montana, Utah and Idaho work hard for a position in the top finals.  Committed to offering the best in rancho rodeo events, Southern Idaho’s Oakley Ranch Rodeo adheres to Frandsen’s motto:

Photo © Jason Lugo“Once you put your boots on, you’re going all the way.”

This year’s Oakley Ranch rodeo is September 9-10. Friday’s events start at 1 p.m. and go to 10 p.m.

Saturday’s events start at 9 a.m.  That evening at 6 p.m. the top 18 event winners will compete.

For more information call Steven Babbitt, 208-539-1756 or Broden Mathews, 208-431-3263.

About the author

Paula D. Webb - Paula grew up on a ranch south of Grace, Idaho. From the time she learned to form letters, she’s loved writing. Earning her degree in English/Professional Writing, Paula has written for several publications. She also loves walking, baking artisan breads, music and most of all, being a wife and mother.

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1 comments

Fantastic photo