Juneteenth Rodeo brings crowd from all around
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IF YOU GO
Juneteenth Open Pro Rodeo
Horsemen's Club Arena at Riverside Park
Events start at 8 p.m.
Vera Lane's and her horse have to be cool under pressure.
Any number of things can go wrong when her and her horse, Uni, are in the arena performing. Not the least of which other animals escaping.
"We've ridden in some pretty tough conditions," Lane said. "We've had sheep get out. We've done drills with bronc horses in the arena, sheep in the rena. You just never know what's going to happen, so you prepare for anything."
And then there's the mud.
"I remember one time in Wimberly, we performed in mud that took the boots and sucked them down to their feet," she said. "Anyone who wasn't leading ate mud.
"We had to take the boots off because the mud was taking them off."
Lane and the drill team lead off the first day of the Juneteenth Open Pro Rodeo, and were among many who came from around South Texas to Victoria for a weekend of events at the Horsemen's Club Arena at Riverside Park for the first of two days of festivities on Friday.
Events continue Saturday evening at 8 p.m.
Lane, from Seguin, and her horse Uni circled the arena and members of her drill team, the Guadalupe County Fair Association True Women's Drill Team, during the national anthem, flag flowing as Uni ran around the group.
Then it was time to put on a show, something that takes years of practice to get down correctly, Lane said. The team of eight ran weaving patterns and walked in tandem, giving the crowd a strong and disciplined performance.
"It took me three years to get her with the training skill set that I wanted her to have," Lane said. "Then it took another three years to get the desensitizing training into her so that she didn't spook at everything."
But Lane said she expects more of her horses.
"Not all horses take that long, but I want my horses to go to the higher levels. I want to know that I can get myself out of trouble out there," she said.
But even then, a horse can never be totally trained to not spook. Uni reacted briefly and mildly in the middle of the team's routine while in the corner.
"However, you do the groundwork, and you can minimize the repercussions and not get bucked off," Lane said.
In a matter of seconds, it was all over.
T.J. Jones and J.B. Gooding had a chance to show off what they could do as a team ropers at the Juneteenth rodeo Friday night.
But, as the two charged out riding along side the steer they had their sites on roping, Jones tossed his rope and missed. It fell to the ground around his horse, and the steep got away as Gooding followed it into the corner and out of the way.
They usually don't miss, Jones said, with Gooding adding that Jones hits about 90 percent of the time.
It wouldn't have mattered it they duo did land the steer. But, hey, that's rodeo for you.
"I broke the barrier, so it wouldn't have mattered it I caught it anyways," said Jones, a 24-year-old roper from Bulverde. "It's tough. Every arena is a little bit different. It's a lot of timing.
"It's one of those things you don't learn overnight, it takes a lot of years to perfect it."
Both Jones and Gooding have been roping for about three years, Gooding a little longer, and have been working together for a year.
The two have but a few seconds for Jones as the header to rope the steer by the horns, then for Gooding to catch its two feet. Their fastest time is 4.8 seconds, they said.
"We're shooting for five or six seconds," Jones said.
The equipment isn't dramatic - a nylon rope - but they stand out. Jones' rope is a bright, neon green that stands out to the crowd.
Gooding, who is 19 years old and from San Marcos, said the rope's composition and make is all about comfort, depending on what one is trying to do. His rope, colored pink in honor of breast cancer awareness, is stiffer than most, compared to his compatriots.
"It's meant to stand up when you throw to catch the feet," Gooding said. "His is pretty soft, it's easier to control and wrap around the horns."
Jones said he remembered coming to Victoria when he was younger, and was interested in returning.
"Back when I was 10 years old, I played a little league all-star game in this town," Jones said. "I kind of wanted to come back."