By Gary Montgomery, BVN Staff –
After 25 years of zigzagging across the country telling the story of the African American cowboy, the Bill Pickett Rodeo still draws exuberant crowds and is one of the real joys of summer.
Since its inaugural event in Denver’s Adam’s County Arena back in 1984 the Bill Pickett Rodeo has introduced hundreds of thousands of youngsters to the African American rodeo experience.
Named after the legendary Black rodeo pioneer, Bill Pickett was credited with creating the ‘dogging’ techniques used by today’s cowboys.
The primary goal has always been to highlight the story of the African American cowboy. By creating the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo, founder Lu Vision not only achieved his goal of telling the African American cowboy’s history, he also created a venue for today’s local African American cowboys and cowgirls to exhibit their skills, hone their craft and follow their dreams to other professional circuits if they choose.
“We have seen a lot of our folks go up to the PRC (Professional Rodeo Circuit), some of them have done alright up there, said General Manager Sedgwick Haynes. If you can rodeo down here you can rodeo up there.”
There are African American cowboys and cowgirls all over the country, thousands in the Inland Empire alone, people who love horses and the cowboy life. Most are unrecognizable by day posing as teachers, bankers, lawyers and even actors, then like Fred Flintstone when the 5 o’clock whistle blows they rush off to their first love, horses.
During its 25 year history, the Bill Pickett Rodeo has provided an opportunity for thousands of those part time cowboys and cowgirls who want to pursue the professional circuit or just want to showcase their riding ability.
Riverside native, Lauren DeCoud is one of those aspiring cowgirls with bigger aspirations.
After getting her first opportunity to compete in the barrel racing event at last year’s rodeo, Lauren was invited back this year to participate in the barrel race and the relay event.
Growing up in the Riverside-Moreno Valley area Lauren was a star basketball player at Mo Val High. As the starting point guard, Lauren helped lead the Vikings to their first and only appearance in the CIF Quarter Finals, losing to eventual champions San Clemente.
“My whole family rides, I have been around horses my whole life,” said DeCoud.
“My mother rode horses when she was pregnant with me. I have always loved to ride”.
Lauren and Cowboy, her faithful steed had and impressive run in the barrel racing event and held the top time in the relay event coming into Sunday’s final round.
Lauren’s goal is to continue to polish her skills and at some point give the Women’s Professional Rodeo a shot.
“First, I need a more advanced horse to compete at the next level and I need better equipment before I can go on the road,” said Decoud.
Lauren’s current skill level combined with her obvious passion for the sport will likely overcome those minor obstacles and get her to the WPR real soon.
Gmontgomery can be reached @ firstname.lastname@example.org
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