LUBBOCK, Texas — The Texas Tech College Rodeo has become one of the biggest intercollegiate rodeos with over 550 contestants drawing competitors all the way from Canada for cash prizes, saddles and trailers.
The event is hosted by the Texas Tech Rodeo Team who have gone to great lengths to make it a success.
“My favorite part is watching and being able to give these kids an opportunity to compete for the kind of things that pro rodeo people compete for,” said Texas Tech Rodeo Coach Jerrad Hofstetter. “It’s been a lot of fun and I think that it’s going to really take off from here.”
The Texas Tech Rodeo Team not only competes in the rodeo but they are highly involved behind the scenes, raising money by securing businesses for sponsorship and prizes, preparing the arena, loading cattle and even helping with meals.
Fortunately, they get additional assistance from other teams that participate at the Texas Tech Equestrian Center.
“We are all a big group and we help each other with every show that each other puts on,” said Hofstetter, referring to the Ranch Horse Team, Horse Judging Team and the Equestrian Team at Texas Tech.
The event that seemed to be the highlight was the Little Raider Rodeo, a few hours dedicated to exceptional kids who were paired up with a member of the Texas Tech Rodeo Team for an afternoon of rodeo themed activities.
“We make it possible for our students with severe needs to come and be able to participate,” said Life Skills Supervisor Keely Kent of Levelland. “We tried to create it to be as close to a real rodeo as possible.”
The students were invited to be in the arena with the rodeo team where they participated in safe and supervised activities.
Each student and mentor rotated to different stations that offered events like roping, racing around barrels on a stick horse and getting to ride horseback.
“A lot of them love getting on horseback,” Kent said “Their sensory needs are met when they are able to just get on the horse. They are very therapeutic for them.”
The therapy is referred to as hippotherapy, which is the means of improving coordination, balance, and strength through the use of horseback riding.
“We’re going to give them a little rodeo of their own. A day to be the champion right here in the arena.”Justin Runford – Pro Rodeo Entertainer
The Little Raider Rodeo was sponsored by John Roley’s Autocenter which also participated in the event.
“It’s such a wonderful bond that we have with the community and with the kids,” said Stephen St. Clair, of John Roley’s Autocenter. “We just love to see these kids smile and their hearts light up. What a great thing it is to be a part of this.”
The impact of the event could be felt throughout the arena as the laughter and cheering was continuous.
Family members were smiling as big as their children and it was evident that the biggest prize of this rodeo was the lasting memories that were made.