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Rodeo participants usually in for a wild ride

Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry Professional Rodeo Cowboy Krandall Conn, above and at right, hangs on a little over half-way into his eight-second ride Thursday at the Allegheny Mountain Championship Rodeo.

I went to my first rodeo on July 28.

I never thought it would be about the personalities.

On July 27, I met a cowboy – a real Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association bareback rider.

Krandall Conn, 21, of Michigan City, Ind., was a special guest at the sponsor dinner for the 42nd annual Allegheny Mountain Championship rodeo at the Flying W Ranch in Kellettville.

Not only was it cool to be able to cheer for someone I had actually met, Krandall helped me understand what was going on.

I asked a lot of newbie questions. He, and traveling rodeo operator Shana Graham of Painted Pony Championship Rodeo of Lake Luzerne, N.Y., patiently answered them.

There were things I never would have thought to ask.

The bareback rider has to keep his feet above the horse’s shoulders to start and for two jumps. Knowing that kept me from wondering why in the world a horseman wouldn’t clamp his legs around the horse that was trying to send him flying.

The rider only receives a score if he stays on for eight seconds.

The rider is awarded points … but so is the horse.

A boring ride might make it easy to get to eight seconds, but it doesn’t help the rider’s score much.

Graham explained that the most sought after animals – her company provides bulls and broncs for rodeos – are those that are ridden by the winners (most points) and those that throw their riders (most potential).

Last Thursday, Krandall stayed on Rockstar. I’m confident I would have dislocated… everything. He beat out Tim Kent, who has early nearly $100,000 in his rodeo career, by three points.

Krandall was all smiles afterwards.

Maybe he’ll remember this event. He explained that he doesn’t remember some of his earliest competitive rides … too much adrenaline.

At one point during our conversation, I asked if he admitted that he was crazy for doing what he did.

He smiled.

I also briefly met Brinson Harris. I would call him a rodeo clown. Maybe that’s right, but it’s not enough. He was like a game-show host, cheerleader, comedian.

I was taking photos right at the fence. Usually when someone comes up to me when I’m doing that, they tell me to back up. He said if he got in the way to throw a rock at him. I assured him I would not, he had plenty of other possible ways to get hurt. But I sure did like not being sent away.

Brian Ferry is a Times Observer staff writer.

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