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Monday, May 2, 2016

It's RODEO Time in Scott Valley ............. Gail L. Jenner

It's Rodeo Time in our valley -- Scott Valley -- just a hop, skip and jump across the state line into California from Oregon. This year will have marked the 69th annual Pleasure Park Rodeo and it's an event that not only attracts locals from all over the area, it attracts visitors from around the north state and the West. It takes place every first Sunday in May, hence the big day will have occurred just "yesterday!"

P.S. I'm sure I'm dirty and exhausted and hopefully am fast asleep after a LONG day of fun and sun and dirt and dust! Horses put away.....?  Kids in bed....? Laundry piled up in the laundry room or on the back porch....?

You bet......

Although the Scott Valley Pleasure Park Rodeo started out as an entirely local activity back in the 1940s -- when a group of young men, looking for something exciting to do, were approached by an old cowboy who thought he could help them out. One of the young men had been playing horse polo at West Point and when he came home, he had gathered his friends together and introduced them to the wild sport. From there, it was only a matter of time that an arena was built!

From that auspicious beginning grew the roots of our county's most famous rodeo. At first it was only local cowboys and local "stock" but in a few years, the sport drew larger and larger crowds. It eventually became a professionally sanctioned rodeo. And now we have our May rodeo and the "Old Timers' Rodeo" in July....which is even more of a family affair. If you haven't enjoyed a rodeo, slip on your boots and grab your hat. We have a ton of fun...and everyone gets into the act.

Our oldest son and Doug -- saddle cow race just a couple years ago!
My husband Doug became an active participant; for more than 12 years, he rode bulls (he joined the college rodeo team for a time, as well). All in all, he emerged as a 3-time "All - Around Cowboy." In all that time, he was never thrown from a bull -- although at least twice he did "touch his hat" (and replaced it on his head), which disqualified him. I attribute his success to his amazing upper-body strength, developed while hauling hay (3-wire bales = 120 lbs each), sometimes as many as 1000 bales in a day.

He also participated in a number of raucous and entertaining "local" events, including the Packer's Race, Wild Cow Contest, Wild Cow Milking Contest, Cowhide Race, and even the Wild Horse Race. These events are some of the most popular on rodeo day -- always full of action and "mis-adventure!" Thankfully, he's "retired" now from bull riding, but he still enjoys getting into the action occasionally. But our sons and our daughter all have spent time in the arena, in the dirt, riding calves and steers, horses, and more. From drill team to competition, they've grown up around rodeo.

The annual May weekend begins with Saturday's junior rodeo, followed by a BBQ and dance downtown, and on Sunday, the annual Etna Parade. Everyone loves to see the Junior Pleasure Park horse drill team, the floats, the old cars, the kids, and horses, the Back Country Horsemen and Mountain Men Re-enactors (with their black powder shotguns that when they go off, everyone jumps!)....and more. 
The kids ride a manure spreader!
Re-enactors keep it lively when their black powder guns go "bang!"
Our family is often in the parade -- either with a vintage car or on horseback. The last couple years we've entered some of the Jenner grandkids (the two boys in front, on the left, are two of our grandkids): Mark and Collin. The others are grand nieces and nephews (but only a handful of them....there are plenty more!).
Granddaughter Morgan and friend -- running in high gear!
The rodeo begins with the "Kids'" events, including Mutton Bustin' -- which most of our grandkids have participated in at one time or another...
Dressed for riding his mutton!

Hang on, Buddy, okay????
A long - standing tradition, here is our youngest son Matt, when he was 6 years old young (23 years ago), wearing Doug's chaps from childhood. These chaps have gone through all of the kids so they are nearing 65 years old! Matt is also married now and is a father of two young kids. 

Mutton Bustin' -- for anyone who doesn't know -- is when kids get to ride sheep. They hang on, any which a'way, and try to last for as long as possible. Our grandson (above) won the winning buckle for TWO rodeos this year -- quite a feat for a six-year old...Our older son Nick and his wife Jenny visit with their younger son (6 years old) -- giving him some sage advice before slipping down into the chute?!

But the rodeo is made for little kids... what better place to get dirty and run around without fear?!

And, of course, the main events are the traditional ones: bareback riding, bronc riding, barrel racing, team roping, calf roping, and bull riding. Even now, when I hear the music start, and the announcer call out, "Bareback riders get ready; bull riders, pull down and start pukin'," I think of the number of rodeos I sat threw anxiously watching Doug behind the chutes, getting ready for his turn, grateful that in all those years, he never got hurt!


It's a great time celebrated by our multi-generational farm and ranching family, and it's a community event that we all look forward to twice a year.
This photo, taken by a friend, is of a cousin -- not a professional cowboy, but certainly could be!

Gail Jenner is the wife of a cowboy-rancher- and former rodeo bull rider. Writing about life in the West and on a cattle ranch that has been in the family for 5 generations now (over 140 years) only adds greater inspiration to her stories. Author, educator, rancher's wife, she loves riding and gardening and spending days on the ranch with her husband of 45 years. She is proud that her children and grandchildren find this life as satisfying as she does! In addition, she and 6 of the Jenner "girls" have joined together to establish a retail sales business of 100% All Natural Angus (ranch-bred and raised) premium beef, called Jenner Family Beef!
For more about her, check out:  or


  1. I do remember the Ft. Madison rodeo when I was much younger. Your post brought back some fun memories. Now, if I had time, I'd go to the Pikes Peak or Bust rodeo. So much is still as it was all those years ago. That's kind of comforting. Doris

  2. Yes, rodeo is pretty traditional and really a family affair! That is one of the best parts of the sport -- and it is a sport. You can't be in poor physical shape. And, for those who don't know, rodeo stock live a life of great ease: 8 seconds of "work" a week at most! But the challenge is also a risky one, however, it is something that has a history in the actual life of cowboys and ranchers. It's a throwback to times when physical strength and guts were paramount. Thanks for stopping by, Doris! Hope you do make another rodeo sometime :-)

  3. It all looks pretty excitin'. I've been to few local rodeos. They were fun and kind of intense. I liked reading all about these cowboy doings and all those great pictures, too.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Sarah. Yes, we always look forward to the gang of family and the kids -- it's such a great way to spend a day! Photo ops everywhere!

  4. Gail, my husband and two of our four sons rode saddle bronc. I never tire on a good rodeo, which we have several in our area, Northeast Washington. Thank you for sharing your fun and family with us.