Montana cowboy culture field trip
Volunteers at Bull Run Guest Ranch in Cascade, Mont., lead Youth Center campers on a horseback ride July 26. (Courtesy Photo)
by Kathy Desy
Chief, Airman and Family services
8/10/2011 - MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. -- Malmstrom Youth Programs summer day camp participants took part in a "Montana Cowboy Culture" mini-camp on July 26 at Bull Run Guest Ranch in Cascade. JS Rodeo Company from Vaughn and the Montana Farm Bureau Federation were also on hand to share information about rodeo events and livestock identification. Activities for the day included: barrel racing, team penning, steer roping, horseback riding and branding.
Upon arriving at the ranch the children were greeted by JS Rodeo personnel Sherry Smith, Chance Smith, Shane Bessette and Shawn Bessette to learn about rodeo livestock and equipment. Team ropers, Shane and Shawn Bessette, showed campers how to rope steers. Campers tried their hand at throwing a rope around a set of horns attached to a barrel of hay.
"The rope was green and black; I turned it around my head five times and got it over both horns the first try," said camper Nathaniel.
Dani Hamann, a barrel racer from Cascade, explained barrel racing and brought her two horses, Goose and Gus, for demonstrations. Campers learned why horses travel in certain patterns around the barrels, how horses are timed during a competition, how to turn a horse in a certain direction, how to get a horse to run faster, the importance of leaning forward on the horse and how to get a horse to stop.
Next was a question and answer session. Many of the children were curious as to the gear used in barrel racing and what happens if you knock a barrel over. Campers used
"Petey Pony" bouncy balls to race around the barrels and were timed on how fast they went, their pattern, if they kept their horse close without hitting the barrel and lastly not having time added by knocking a barrel over.
Alena Ogg, the Western Regional Manager for Montana Farm Bureau Federation, along with several area ranchers were on hand to teach the children about branding and its importance among ranchers. They learned how to tell the difference in brands and the six locations brands can be found on livestock. Next the children were able to choose a set of brands and burn them into a design on a piece of wood to take home.
Campers learned about Team Penning and used "Petey Pony" bouncy balls and soccer balls to simulate penning cattle. They had to move a group of soccer balls to a certain area to demonstrate the movement of cattle.
Campers also got a swing at a horse piñata which was filled with little keepsakes such as finger puppets, stretch horses and other similar toys.
"I got to take two swings at the piñata," said camper Kylie. "Sam broke it open and I got three horse puppets and three sticky horses."
The most anticipated station and favorite of the day was horseback riding.
"I rode Sugar," said camper Tanaya. "She was very nice; she is brown with white hair. I got to pet her neck and hair during the ride."
"It's a wonderful experience for all of us; the sea of orange t-shirts brings smiles to our faces," said Mona Ehnes, Bull Run Guest Ranch. "And just look at the pictures, they tell the story. What a great day. Fresh air, exercise, fun games, food, and new sites and sounds to soak in. I'm so glad we can offer the ranch for a location for the day camp."