California-The Springville Sierra Rodeo is a unique
event for contestants and fans alike. It begins with
a pass through the gates of the rodeo grounds which
mimic the head of a bull. It's like a step back in time--bucking
horses roam free about the grounds and are only penned
up long enough to perform inside the arena before being
driven back up the hill above the contestants' parking.
A town of less than 1000 people,
the rodeo brings in fans from neighboring communities
for a raucous good time. In 2012 an estimated 5,000
fans attended the 64th Annual Springville Sierra Rodeo
April 27-29; the fun began on Friday night for "Bulls
and Barrels," which included a session of motorcycle
barrel racing. Two performances through the weekend
brought Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (WNFR) and top
circuit contestants. The Saturday morning parade shuts
down the main artery to town, Highway 190, and the US
Marine Corps Mounted Color Guard presents the American
Flag for each performance.
Springville is the gateway to the
Giant Sequoia National Monument. The setting is pristine,
a gorgeous arena set up against the foothills of the
Sierra-Nevada Mountains and the action inside the arena
was just as gorgeous as the surroundings.
Running during a wild Saturday night
performance, seven-time WNFR qualifier Rachael Boyle
lit up the WPRA barrel race with a run just as beautiful
as the surroundings. Riding Custer, Boyle stopped the
clock in 17.17 seconds to win the rodeo by three tenths
of a second. She collected $1,171.
"If I could just choreograph
the bucking horses running past the trailer," laughs
Boyle. "They came by just as I was getting on and
he was so fired up. Maybe I need to put a flat screen
with videos of that on the trailer to play before every
It was a busy Saturday for Boyle,
who fans remember by her maiden name, Myllymaki. She
married Pat Boyle back in August 2011. Boyle is one
of the youngest qualifiers ever to the WNFR back in
1988 at just 11 years of age, and made the trip six
more times from 1990 to 2002.
Because they claimed the opening
round win at the Silver Tour stop at Clovis, Boyle and
Custer competed during the Saturday afternoon performance
there before dashing the two hours down the road for
the Saturday night show at Springville.
"The committee is so nice .
. . I came in there late from Clovis and they just waved
me past all the cars," she says. "It's so
nice when you've driven all those miles to see a friendly
face. They really go out of their way to make the contestants
"It's cool to actually be out
of phone service for a while," she says of the
mountain setting. "It's a totally different atmosphere
but it's like going home because everybody's there."
Boyle is spending more time training
these days than hitting the road full time and her main
mount, Custer, is a product of her training program.
She ran the colt, registered as French First Watch,
at the futurities in 2009 and has been slowly breaking
him into the rodeos in the past few years.
In fact, Boyle says the gelding's
inexperience with performances caused him to get a little
quick in getting away from his first barrel during the
second round performance at Clovis. The palomino son
of PESI stallion Frenchmans Guy by a Dash ta Fame mare
runs to the left first and clipped the barrel, taking
a five second penalty to eliminate Boyle from a chance
at the short round.
He made up for it that night at
All in all, Boyle earned $2,742
for the weekend and moved to fourth in the California
ProRodeo Circuit standings. She is hoping for a return
trip to the California Circuit Finals Rodeo, where she
and Custer won a go round in 2011.
"We kind of have an internal
debate right now. My husband keeps saying, 'you're winning,
you should go.' But I like being at this ranch where
we're at [in Coalinga, California], riding my colts,"
For more information on the
Springville Sierra Rodeo, visit them on-line at www.rodeo49.com