A unique vaquero-style roping event is set for October 24, 25 & 26, 2014 at the Santa Ynez Valley Equestrian Center in Santa Ynez, California. Conceived by horsemanship clinician, Buck Brannaman and his daughter Reata, the Wrangler Buck Brannaman Pro-Am Vaquero Roping will be free for spectators to watch 100 teams compete for substantial prize money in the classic California ranch roping style.
As Buck says of the event, “For years I’d been wanting to do a roping event styled after a pro-am golf tournament. Two-person teams enter and come to town, and out of a pool of handpicked pros that I have chosen; we’ll draw their third team member. That will be their team for the weekend. It’s going to be a neat deal – after two days we’ll take the top 30 teams for the finals held the third day, on Sunday. Unlike a lot of ranch ropings, it’s going to have serious prize money – we’re figuring over $25,000.”
Bill Reynolds is co-producing the event with Buck. “Buck and I have worked together for over 30 years,” he says, “and we both agree that in order for a tradition based culture to continue, the good parts of it have to truly shine. The last thing we wanted to do with this [roping] was to in any way be exclusionary. We really have a chance to celebrate people who are interested in vaquero style roping, meaning long ropes and gentle cattle handling.”
The event’s website is www.brannaman.com and one can find entry forms and all the basic information including the general rules:
“The unique thing about this is, all of the shots will have a point value but there will also be a value on time spent,” Buck explains. “So, a team can have real fancy shots, or a team could enter that has solid fundamental roping skills—they’re good ropers but nothing fancy and they’re kind of quick and smooth—it could be an equal score. Everything below a minute and a half is plus nine points, below two and a half minutes is plus six, and below three and a half minutes is plus three. There will be a lot of strategy involved because if you’re a fancy roper you have to decide, can we throw some fancy shots and be quick enough to be in the money? Yet, it’s not going to alienate people that don’t have all the real fancy, crazy kind of throws. It’s going to be inclusive rather than exclusive where nobody’s going to feel intimidated and there will be no subjectivity in the judging of it. You can look at the rule sheet and know why you won or know why you lost.”
Limited dry camping is available for contestants wanting to camp for the weekend. Billy Ruiz, a legendary Santa Maria-Style chef, will have breakfast and lunch available for sale, and there will be an array of vendors at the show.
“Buck and I are inviting who we feel are vendors that are appropriate to the genre and will give diversity and some real interest to the people who are coming,” Bill says. “This roping is an opportunity for people to come of all calibers who are really interested in it. Buck sees this as a chance for the event to happen every year and to have it grow and become something that is educational as well as a lot of fun for people.”
Part of the proceeds from the event will be donated to back to the Santa Ynez Valley Equestrian Association and to the local FFA—FFA members will be helping out during the event.
“The Thursday night before the roping we’re going to have a little event after the teams get assigned their pros,” Bill explains. “As last year, we are inviting folks to visit the Museum of the Cowboy, which is a private museum in Santa Ynez with probably the finest collection of regional bits and saddles, and Ortega braided material to be found anywhere. It will be a nice chance to visit and see old friends. Friday and Saturday morning, the roping will run from 8 AM to dark (Sunday we start at 9AM). Each of those first two days we’ll have 100 teams who’ve got four, four-minute goes. We’re going to have two arenas going at the same time in order to get all this in.”
Buck is once a gain deliberately keeping the pool of pros a secret to be announced at the event but says, “They’re the finest ropers you can find. So they’ll be a lot of people you’ve known and seen rope over the years. It worked great last year. We’d like to do it every year and eventually, as we get more teams, there will be more money. We’d like it to be a really big payday for the teams who win it. Out of the top 30 teams in the finals, we’re paying to eight places.”