The 2018 Working Ranch Cowboys Association World Championship Ranch Rodeo may have been the Beachner Bros. team’s first time placing in the top three, but it wasn’t a Beachner team’s first time winning a ranch rodeo finals event.
Before they became members of the WRCA, Cody and Caden Kendall rode on a Beachner ranch rodeo team with Ty Swiler in the Junior Ranch Rodeo Association. The team won the association finals two times.
“They were really tough to beat,” said Chris Potter, another Kansas cowboy. “Just to see the improvement they’ve made is pretty awesome.”
Potter was a member of the group that started the JRRA, an association to put on junior ranch rodeos for younger cowboys and cowgirls. The organization is based in Pawhuska, Oklahoma, and has hosted junior ranch rodeos for nearly 10 years.
“There were a few little rodeos that had kid rodeos, and we thought it was kind of a neat idea, so we started putting a couple of them together down around Pawhuska, Oklahoma,” Potter said. “It was kind of a big hit, and there were a few people who started the official association and used Pawhuska as a headquarters.”
JRRA rodeos are set up just like WRCA ranch rodeos. Teams of four compete in similar events -- team penning, team branding, stray gathering, and so on. Events for younger competitors even include “wild” goat milking and pony bronc riding.
The rodeos are broken up into two age divisions of 13 and under and 18 and under.
The Kendalls and Swiler, as well as Justin and Jake Peterson, began competing in JRRA rodeos as in their early teens. Troy Higgs from the Lonesome Pine team, and others from Kansas, including Potter’s son and daughter, have competed in JRRA.
Swiler said competing in the JRRA helped him develop his skills in the ring.
“It helps you get relaxed in the arena and be able to think about things while they’re happening,” he said. “Versus being flustered and cluttered and whatnot.”
Potter said it also helps them work as a team.
Potter also competed at the WRCA finals this year. He rode with the Broken H Ranch/Hebb Ranch team, which placed fourth overall. But Potter said seeing hands he watched develop their skills in the JRRA come in and run the show was the highlight of the event.
“Some of us, like me and my wife, have watched them grow up,” Potter said. “Seeing them do what they did, taking home about all the awards they could, I was more excited for them than I was for myself even placing. It was really neat.”