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Cowboys, cowgirls gear up for Medora

In early June, Medora continued to revitalize its rodeo past with the Medora Badlands Classic.

The town isn’t stopping there as the North Dakota Hall of Fame produces the inaugural World Class Bucking Horse Association Medora Badlands Classic at 1 p.m. today at the Medora Ranch-O-Rama arena. The futurity will feature just two events, saddle bronc and barrel racing, with two rounds each to weed out over 20 cowboys and cowgirls per event.

While the format of the event differs from that of a traditional rodeo, some competitors prefer it. Leroy Eash of Fortine, Mont., said he’s competed in futurities all around from Montana to Canada and loves the format and chance to ride younger, less experienced horses.

“I enjoy getting on those young horses, kind of colts they have there,” he said. “Obviously, they have four-five year olds so they’re young. A lot of them just straight up want to buck. They haven’t learned some of the older horses’ tricks and stuff.

“Some of the older broncs learn tricks and this and that and these guys don’t have that figured out yet.”

Fortine is about a half a day’s trip to Dickinson but Eash isn’t a stranger to North Dakota. Eash has competed in a select few rodeos before — in areas like Bowman and New Town — but he hasn’t competed or been to Medora. Despite the unfamiliarity with the area, Eash is no newcomer to rodeo — joined the PRCA four years ago — and will use his experience to his advantage.

“Get out there and do your job, compete. But every horse every time you get on them you don’t know exactly what’s going to happen,” Eash said. “You may have seen this horse a hundred times but he may have a different type of day. Every time you get on its still something a little new.”

Sometimes, particularly in rodeo, life throws a curveball. While Eash and other cowboys are ready to compete, Jake Costello who was orignally signed up to compete but had to bow out due to injury. Costello is currently recovering from a lower back injury after being ran over by a horse at the pro rodeo in Grassy Butte.

“Mine’s kind of a sad story, I kind of got crippled up here and I’m kind of on the mend,” he said about his season until that point.

But despite the injury, the cowboy from Newell, S.D., can’t keep away from the competition and will still travel to Medora and help out with tying horses in chutes and any other way he can.

Costello said the mental portion of rodeo is just important as physically practicing and being around the riders and horses today will do nothing but help him maintain a competitive mindset.

“You always have to keep it on your mind, that’s as important as practice is being mentally prepared for it,” Costello said. Being around it dang sure helps.”

Meaghan MacDonald

Meaghan is the sports page designer and copy editor for the Forum of Fargo-Moorhead.  After graduating from James Madison University (Va.) in May 2013, she moved from New Jersey to North Dakota to start pursuing her career in sports journalism and was a sports reporter for the Dickinson Press and covered Dickinson State athletics. Meaghan has been working for the Forum since June 2015.