Story by Hope Raley During his ride on a cold day in February 2016, Taylor Merrill’s bronc fell and ended up stepping on his head, […]
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Meet the Rodeo Ride A Horse Feed A Cowboy
story by Hope Raley
Rodeo has a heart for philanthropy. It is by nature that those of western lifestyle feel compelled to help those in need, and this story is no different. Nonprofit organization Ride a Horse Feed a Cowboy just wrapped up its 16th annual celebration in Hulett, Wyoming. The event was established in 2006 with one goal in mind- help someone in need within the rodeo community. Ride a Horse Feed a Cowboy (RHFC) consists exclusively of roughstock events- bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, bull riding and ranch bronc riding. Held every third Saturday in August, the rodeo is just the beginning of the action with a silent auction, live auction, barbeque and live band wrapping up the day-long celebration. Chanda Snook from Hulett, Wyoming is one of the founders of RHFC and wanted to give back to her community but at the time didn’t know how. It was after another organization held a similar event in Hulett, that Chanda got her idea. “It was a fun event, but they didn’t give back to the community that supported their event after it was over. I thought there had to be another way to give back to the communities that support these events. Without them, events such as ours wouldn’t exist,” explained Chanda. The first several years of the event was a ride-in, where people would ride their horses to town and celebrate with an auction and barbeque. There was one year Chanda recalled where over 75 riders rode to town. The rodeo was added in 2012 after Chanda’s two sons, Austin and Taylor “Bug” had the idea of adding a show. Burch Rodeo was brought onboard and have been the stock contractors since 2012. In 2014 Western States Ranch Rodeo Association came on board and sanctioned the ranch bronc riding. Over the past eight years the ranch bronc riding has exploded and became a crowd favorite. Since the event is sanctioned with the WSRRA, the money won at RHFC counts towards their year end finals held in Winnemucca, Nevada.
The event is a family affair for Chanda with her husband Clint, two sons, Austin and Taylor “Bug”, and herself being the main producers of RHFC. Bug has overseen taking entries and making sure the sheets are ready, chutes are loaded, and the arena is ready when the clock strikes go-time. Austin pulls chute gates and gets the volunteers lined up and in their designated places at start time. Probably one of the most important roles of the event is head of the accounting department which Clint oversees. “He figures out the payout and is our calculator,” Chanda said.
Over the years, RHFC has raised thousands of dollars for those in need, and over the past several years, Chanda has continued to help people not only during the annual event, but throughout the year as well. This year’s event was a little more somber than normal as a Wacey Snook Memorial Bronc Ride was added after losing Wacey to suicide this spring. Wacey was a nephew to Clint and Chanda and cousin to Bug and Austin. $11,000 was donated to the memorial and was a huge draw this year for the roughstock riders, especially since many of them knew Wacey.
This year RHFC raised $47,000 and the proceeds from the money raised at the auction went to three individuals- Riley Simmons, Chad Cordell and Roy Henwood. The silent and live auctions are always stepping it up with amazing donations such as NFR tickets, all-expense paid trips, impressive artwork and much more!
The event kicks off on a Friday night with another crowd favorite- goat roping. Then on Saturday at the start of the rodeo time is taken to remember those who have passed on by offering free beer for the first fifteen minutes to salute the fallen.
Come Sunday morning, when the celebration is over, everyone will go back to their normal day-to-day routines, but the job they did will certainly not go unnoticed. The beneficiaries of the proceeds will never forget what a small Wyoming community did for them during some of life’s biggest hurdles.