Cowboy Up: Alabama Junior Rodeo ropes Little Rock

Published 5:19 am Wednesday, March 9, 2005

By By Tim Cottrell
Horse trailers stretched as far as the eye could see and Little Rock was inundated with the smells of burgers, dirt, and horses as the Alabama Junior Rodeo Association (AJRA) came to the Little Rock Arena for a junior rodeo Saturday afternoon. The rodeo featured events such as Breakaway Racing, Barrel Racing, Calf-Roping, Pole Bending, Team Roping, Chute Dogging, Goat-Tying, and Bull-Riding.
Guy Spoon, who, along with his wife Veronica, sponsored the event, said it had exceeded his expectations.
"It (the rodeo) went excellent," Spoon said. "There was a real good turnout. This was the first event at this arena."
Spoon's wife, Veronica, was also pleased with the turnout.
"I estimate there were about 500 people in attendance," she said. "There were at least 100 kids participating. We had kids from as far away as Destin."
Nine children from the Atmore area participated in the rodeo. Michael Mitchell, Cameron McGhee, James Dean, Jon Dean, Michael Campbell, Lauren Wilson, Torie Moore, Cheyenne Buckhault, and Raylin Spence.
Guy Spoon said he felt all the local children competed well.
"They did excellent," Spoon said. "Just about all of them finished in the top ten."
Veronica's daughter, Torie Moore, did especially well.
"Torie finished seventh in (barrel racing), fourth in pole-bending, and fifth in goat-tying," Veronica said.
Moore, 13, who has been involved in AJRA events for two years, was also pleased with her performance.
"I did good," Moore said.
Moore also talked about her life in rodeo.
"I've been doing AJRA since I was 11, but I've been travelling with the rodeo since I was two," Moore said. "I've been doing rodeo since I was eight. We go every weekend they have one."
Moore and her mother discussed what fascinated her about rodeo and her favorite event.
"I like goat-tying," Moore said. "The momentum and the speed you build up are fun."
"She likes the fear of falling on her head," Veronica said.
When asked if she enjoyed the time spent on rodeo, Moore was frank.
"Oh yeah, its my life," she said.
Moore also said the time-consuming events had not affected her grades.
"You have to have at least four passing grades or they won't let you ride," Moore said.
"That's not a problem for her because she's an A-B student," Veronica said.
Jon Dean, also 13, has only recently become involved in rodeo.
"This is my first year," Dean said. "Me and Cameron (McGhee) are friends. He talked about it and it seemed like fun."
Dean obviously made a good decision, as he placed first in the chute-dogging competition.
Dean talked about his love of the rodeo and his favorite events.
"I just love being around everybody and having fun," he said. "Bull-riding is my favorite event. It's more intense, gets you more pumped up."
Dean spends a good deal of time practicing at his home.
"We have some barrels at the house I spend 15 minutes on," Dean said. "Chris Moore (Torie's father) has some barrels and bulls at his place that we ride almost every Sunday."
Raylin Spence, 11, who is in her second year competing in AJRA events, enjoyed the event at Little Rock.
"I did pretty good," Spence said. "I didn't stay to find out the results."
Spence's reasons for involvement in rodeo were fairly simple.
"I like to ride horses," Spence said. "My favorite is pole-bending. You go around six poles on a horse and you have to weave in and out of them."
Michael Campbell, 13, enjoyed the rodeo despite a poor finish.
"I bucked off (in bull-riding)," Campbell said. "I'm working hard on it because this is my last year in AJRA (after their eighth-grade year competitors advance to high school rodeo) and you have to be good to get in high school."
Campbell said there was nothing quite like the thrill of getting on a bull.
"Its fun," he said. "The adrenaline is pumping. My dad rode bulls and it made me want to ride bulls."
The AJRA will hold another rodeo April 23 at the Poarch Junior High/High School Rodeo. More information will be available at a later date.

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