Finals are family affair

By Kevin Baird

kbaird@cnjonline.com

Samantha Hamilton, 6, competed in her first rodeo this week, at the High Plains Junior Rodeo Association, the very rodeo her grandfather helped found.

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Courtesy photo: Sunny Hamilton
Samantha Hamilton, 6, watches as her grandfather, Dwayne Ridley, prepares her horse, Stinky, Friday at the High Plains Junior Rodeo Association Finals at the Curry County Events Center.

Dwayne Ridley, 73, is one of five men who began the HPJRA in 1974. Although he is retired from rodeo he spends a lot of time in the saddle with his granddaughter.

“She’s been riding horseback with me since she was in diapers,” Ridley said. He added that he often takes her along to do range work on his ranch south of Yeso.

“We go in the pastures and go feed the cows,” Hamilton said.

Ridley says Hamilton spends up to six days a week riding with him in the summer and comes over nearly every weekend during the school year.

“I love that she likes it so much,” Ridley said.

“I like to do barrels because I like running around them.” Hamilton said. She said her horse’s name is Stinky.

Hamilton, who goes to Zia Elementary School, placed third in barrel racing, 6 and under, in the first go-round. In the second round she received zero points on Friday for not following the barrel racing route.

“It is very rewarding to see the younger generation connect with the older generation,” said Sunny Hamilton, Samantha’s mother.

“In high school I rode bulls, roped calves, and did team roping,” Ridley said, “I liked calf roping best because you’re timing and everything has to get better.”

Ridley said he also won the PRCA Clovis team calf roping in 1972 with Benny Fulghum. He said it was his biggest accomplishment in rodeo, and the belt buckle he won is his favorite.

Although two of Ridley’s kids went to college on rodeo scholarships, Sunny Hamilton said she only didn’t do very much rodeo at all.

“It’s exciting to see your daughter do something you didn’t do,” Sunny Hamilton said.

Although Samantha Hamilton’s rodeo debut was cut short she said she will continue to go to play-day rodeos in Fort Sumner.

She said she wants to try all of the events at some point, but not mutton busting. Not ever.

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