‘Rip and ride’
MANOR — Preparing for his bull riding event Friday night, 18-year-old B.J. Trout had a pragmatic attitude about the chances of getting hurt in his line of work.
“It’s not if,” Trout said, “it’s just when, and how bad.”
Trout, of Mount Pleasant, was one of the contestants at the annual rodeo at the Crooked Creek Horse Park. It’s one of many East Coast rodeo events each summer at which would-be Professional Bull Riders stars such as Trout earn their stripes.
The two-day event near Ford City also is a good chance for Valley rodeo fans to see a live event with all the rodeo fanfare — clowns, trick-riding demonstrations and real cowboys doing dangerous stuff.
Before Friday’s events, 2-year-old Zane Kilgus was getting ready for his rodeo career by practicing roping a dummy steer near his parents’ trailer. His dad, Ned, and brother, Zach, were contestants in the rodeo.
The Kilgus family of Watsontown travel the region from April to October to attend rodeos, said Zane’s mother, Denise. In between, they marvel at what a cowboy Zane is becoming.
“He dresses like that when we go to the mall or the grocery store,” Denise Kilgus said. “I’ll ask him if he wants to put on his tennis shoes or something else and he just says, ‘No, me wear cowboy boots.”
Kim Buchleitner, 39, and the mother of three boys, travels throughout the summer to compete in barrel racing at rodeos. Buchleitner of New Bethlehem trains horses when she’s not competing.
But Friday night, she planned to “rip and ride,” in her event.
“It’s just such an adrenaline rush,” she said.
Nancy McAfoose is a rodeo regular. She and her husband come from Indiana, Pa., every year. She knows just what to wear — cow-print cowboy hat, horse-print shirt, American flag scarf and bright red cowboy boots.
And she knows just where to sit — on the corner, out of the sun, with the best view of the bulls and broncs coming out of the shoot.
But the action is sometimes too much for McAfoose.
“Mostly, I watch with my eyes closed,” McAfoose confessed.
After falling early in his bronc-riding event, Trout went to watch a video of his ride so he can improve next time.
Next week, he plans to travel to a big rodeo in Wyoming. It’s one of about 40 events a year for Trout.
Along with watching videos, Trout practices visualizing the perfect ride in between events.
“I can picture the perfect ride,” he said. “I just didn’t get it tonight.”
If you go
Professional Bull Riders
The shuttle bus is free, as is parking at the school.