Founder recalls early days

By Eric Butler, PNT Correspondent

Trying to control his horse after missing his target in the steer breakaway roping, Payson Moore knew he had trouble when the rope got near the horses feet.

That’s because his horse had previously had a similar incident — but with barbed wire instead.

But Moore did get the animal under wraps and, after the event, the 11-year-old talked about it with his grandfather on Wednesday morning.

It was just another day of rodeo competition as the second day of the High Plains Junior Rodeo Association Finals took place at the Mounted Patrol Arena in Clovis — except for one thing. This was the day that Payson was told that his grandpa, Keith Moore, was one of the co-founders for the rodeo.

“That’s cool,” Payson Moore said.

Keith Moore and Bob Bradley were in the stands to watch their grandsons compete in the HPJRA Finals. Both were among a group of five Clovis men — which also included Dan Hardisty, Dwayne Ridley and Johnny Forest — who created the local rodeo circuit in the mid-1970s.

Bradley and Moore agreed that things certainly had changed from the days when they decided to stage rodeos for their kids.

“There were five of us. One weekend, we traveled about a thousand miles. When we got back, we decided we had to do something different,” Keith Moore remembered.

That was 1974 and the result was the High Plains Junior Rodeo Association. The original design of the association was to stage rodeos within a 100-mile radius of Clovis.

The men were in their 30s and were in the habit of shuttling their kids to rodeo events throughout the Southwest. Soon, they would be traveling to locations a little closer but with quite a few added responsibilities.

“We’d come to the towns, and they’d give a little help with the chutes, but we actually put them on ourselves,” said Bradley, whose grandson Wesley Wright is in the same age division (9-through-12) as Payson Moore.

“My wife kept the books. Bob’s wife and Dwayne’s wife did the timing. Bob did the announcing,” said Moore, who had another son, Hayden Moore, competing in the 13-15 division. “I did all the racing events, Dwayne did the roping events, Dan had the books and Johnny worked the chutes.”

The Clovis men also provided the stock animals for the contestants to ride, rope and tie down.

“I can’t believe this thing’s grown like it has. It’s amazing. We never dreamed it would be this big. In fact, we never wanted it this big,” Bradley said. “We limited it to a hundred runs a night and we had two nights to begin with. But it just got to the point where we just couldn’t hold it (the amount of entries) down.”

No longer does Moore have to worry about supplying everything needed for what amounted to a large family rodeo. He still works with his grandsons on rodeo skills at his own property, however.

Does Keith Moore enjoy his new role? “Oh yeah. We get to holler at them a lot,” he said. “They all work good.”