As I awoke my sleepy eyes at 6 a.m on Saturday April 9th to make the five and a half hour drive to Cherokee Oklahoma I wasn't sure what to expect when I arrived. Little did I know at 6 a.m.that morning that I would find myself surrounded that afternoon by inspiration.
As I drove through the beautiful Osage with a travel cup of coffee in my hand, one of my best friends playing co-pilot. and a small baby blue colored Honda covered in dirt I arrived in Cherokee Oklahoma after a few hours. When I pulled into the arena it looked like a normal saddle club. The wind was gusty, and the dust was flying. The bucking horses were in their holding pens, and the abundance of cowboys and gals filled the bleachers, and rodeo grounds. I had just arrived to the Rylee Miller Memorial Ranch Bronc Ride.
While I never met this young lady that was killed in a car accident a few years ago, her spirit flooded these rodeo grounds. The amount of folks that came to celebrate her life in this memorial was overwhelming. As the event began, they brought Rylee's horse into the arena for a tribute to her life that was ended too soon. This horse was lead by James, the man hosting the event, and the love of her life. I was brought to tears.
To make matters a little more emotional, they followed this by the waving of ol' Glory. I don't care how many rodeos or events I attend, the waving of Ol' Glory always gives me goosebumps. The cowboy lifestyle sure knows how to give thanks to our Veterans, and our freedom in the most respectful powerful ways.
The opening ceremonies were followed up by a prayer to celebrate the life of this young lady. In my opinion you sure can't beat a bunch of country folks coming together for such a great event, and to take a moment to thank the good Lord for this country, and the many blessings he has bestowed upon us. What a start to such a great event!
The Ranch Bronc riding event is something that's a little different than saddle bronc riding that's often times seen in Rodeo's. The rules are they have to ride in a ranch type saddle with a horn, ride for 8 seconds, and it's pretty much stay on if ya can. You're allowed to use the horn but you receive higher points if you "fan" your hat. This event came about from cowboys trying to "break" young colts on the ranch.
While this event is much more than just bucking horses, I was in awe of the stock. They were rank!
The dust filled the air, and as I made a little seat at the edge of the arena I began to get covered. I loved every minute. However I did find it hilarious as one guy was walking back down to the bucking chutes, looked over at me sitting by the fence, and begin to crack up laughing as he said "Miss, you're all dusty" . "Yes sir, I'm quite sure I am" I wouldn't even look in a mirror because I was quite certain that if a guy who had just rode a bronc noticed how dusty I was that it certainly had to be terrible. In fact all you could see was the whites of my eyes, and my teeth after I finally looked in the mirror, ha!
Fanning one so much you blow out the top of your hat! Now that's pretty western!
There were plenty of volunteers to help run the silent auction, the cook shack, the loading of the stock, and the abundance of pickup men. The silent auction was to benefit the Rylee Miller Scholorship Fund, and there were plentiful of items!
This event even hosts women's ranch bronc riding, and those ladies can take a rough event, and make it look beautiful!
Those girls might be my new hero's :))
As I was covered in dust, literally... and I loaded up my camera gear for the drive home back to Southwest Missouri, I thought to myself that even though I never met this Rylee Miller, that I hope I live my life like she did. She obviously was loved,and respected by so many for them all to come together in her honor.
The Rylee Miller Memorial Bronc Ride just concluded it's 3rd year, and they're already planning on the 4th annual for 2017. As this event continues to grow, and grow you can expect a pen of rank stock, authentic cowboys that come off the ranch to showcase their talents, and a silent auction full of handmade items from cowboy gear makers. Put it on your calendar for 2017!