Cougar Cowgirl: Let ‘er Buck

Josie hopes to follow in dad’s footsteps at Pendleton rodeo this weekend



Josie hopes to return to the Pendleton Round-Up with a win

JOSIE GOODRICH, Reporter/Copy Editor

The best rodeo of the entire year has finally arrived, and I could not be happier to run down the hill. 

To give some history, the Pendleton Round-Up in Pendleton, Oregon is not only one of the oldest rodeos, but most definitely one of the most unique. It started in 1910 as a frontier exhibition to showcase cowboy skills, gathering over 10,000 spectators.

Hopefully, most of you have seen what arenas look like through my photos or your own experience, but we all know that an arena is a big circle of dirt. However, Round-Up is actually a giant football field.

Seriously, the Pendleton High School football team plays on the grass. 

Also, not only is this arena way bigger than the average arena, it is literally made out of grass and that is what contestants compete on. Not only is it a little more dangerous, but it is so insanely cool.

Last year I got to run barrels on the grass, which was one of the most blood-pumping things I have ever done. A normal barrel racing run is in the 17-second range, but at Pendleton it is in the 29-second range.

Imagine running barrels on a horse going full speed down the length of a football field. Absolutely crazy. 

Round-Up has so many traditional, old cowboy ways of showcasing the rodeo, and it really is a rodeo everyone must experience in their life.

Members of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation live at the rodeo for the week, dancing and doing rituals in the arena for everyone to see. Then there is the Indian Relay Race, where the Indians race horses bareback around the arena throughout the rodeo.

There is also a Happy Canyon Show, basically a big play of how the Western World used to be, showcasing the fight between the early American and Indian civilizations.

Also, the shopping is just exquisite. The amount of real turquoise jewelry and boutiques selling clothes is my favorite part.

This year, I decided to rope instead of run barrels, and the roping is also very unique at Pendleton. Rather than the calf being let out of a chute, like normal, the calf is sent down an alley. I do not know the exact dimensions, but the alley is somewhere around 70 to 80 feet, according to my dad.

The calf is in a holding pen behind the chutes, so you actually cannot even see your calf. When I nod my head and say, “ready,” the calf is sent down the alley. There is a man sitting next to me in the box that will say, “here,” when the calf is beside me, and that is my cue to go.

I then stay beside my calf running down the alleyway until he is out of the alley and onto the grass, and then it is game on. It is a lot harder for some people to rope on the grass because the set up is so different and the only one like it, so the times are also a little longer and tougher.

The breakaway roping is limited to 100 girls, the top 70 in the world and then the top 30 from the Columbia River Circuit, which is a circuit rodeo for me because it is in our region. I was up in the slack on Monday and got to rope at my first-ever Round-Up.

I drew a calf that ran a little bit and went hard left, but because it was his first time on the grass the calf was a little confused and did not blast off. However, once my calf was out of the alley he went hard left and I got in behind him and roped him in 2.9 seconds.

Roping in a 2-second time frame at Round-Up is typically pretty good, and I literally could not stop smiling. It was the coolest thing I’ve ever done, I wish I could explain the adrenaline that comes with roping on the grass.

After all 100 girls run, the top 12 fastest times come back for the short-go on Saturday, which is always the most fun, jam-packed day at the Pendleton Round-Up. 

I cannot say until the performances are over on Friday, but I think that I will make it back to the short-go on Saturday. When I checked Wednesday morning, I was sitting fifth, with 36 girls left to go, and my odds are looking nice.

I am trying not to get my hopes up, but this is the most important rodeo to our family, and to be able to even rope this year was so special, let alone potentially make the short-go my first year. 

My dad was inducted into the Pendleton Hall of Fame in 2018, and I have been going and watching him compete since the day I was born. Out of the last 30 years that my dad has competed here, he has made it back to the short-go 25 times, so Saturday of Round-Up is always a big day for us.

If you have cable or aren’t doing anything on Saturday, I encourage you to watch the Pendleton Round-Up on the Cowboy Channel or in person in case the Cougar Cowgirl is there. 

Let ‘Er Buck!