Missouri high schoolers find a sense of community at state rodeo

Friday, June 15, 2012 | 11:29 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Luke Porter didn’t even own a horse when he began competing in the rodeo.

Just to compete, Porter, a 19-year-old Kansas City native, had to find other rodeo participants who would let him borrow their horse for competition. The sense of community in rodeo was one of the first things Porter noticed.

While many could have turned their back on him, Porter said everyone involved in the rodeo opened their arms to help whenever he needed to borrow equipment or a horse.

“Pretty much anybody you meet here is nice and they’ll always help you out with anything you need,” Porter said.

Porter, and his brother Drew, are competing in team roping at this weekend's Missouri State High School Rodeo at the Boone County Fairgrounds.

“It (the rodeo) is very family-oriented,” Luke Porter said.

From the prayer just before the first competition to the last event of the night, fellow athletes cheer on and give their support to those in the arena.

Logan Rutherford, 17, of Weaubleau, started competing in bareback riding four years ago and says the community aspect is one of the best things about rodeo.

“It’s a big family,” Rutherford said. “You learn the faces of the people here and you get to know people pretty well.”

While Rutherford is the only competitor in this year’s bareback riding competition, he says when he does compete against other riders, it’s all in good fun.

“It’s a friendly competition,” Rutherford said. “Nobody is an outsider here.”

Cole Bass, a bull rider from Jonesburg, says while the riders compete against each other, they're friends first. Bass and other riders joke around before competition and support each other during and after their rides.

Before the last event of the night, the bull riders help each other put on the equipment and give advice on how to ride the bulls.

"We're all pretty good friends," Bass said. "You get to know all of these guys really well."

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