High Plains Rodeo sees first double mugging

By Eric Butler

The double mugging event is new to the High Plains Junior Rodeo Association Finals and it’s proving to be a popular competition.
The term has nothing to do with smiling for the camera or accosting someone for monetary gain, but instead means helping a roper tie down a calf.
The event — for boys 9 to 12 years old — takes two people: the roper and a flanker or “mugger.”
The reason for the flanker is simple: the mere size of the younger cowboys makes it difficult for them to handle a decent sized calf.
“I wouldn’t have been able to flank him, I would’ve been able to nose him — get his nose and bulldog him,” said Lane Hedeman, son of four-time world champion bullrider Tuff Hedeman, after he tied his calf in 14.33 seconds. “But it’s pretty hard sometimes if they’re bigger calves.”
“I think it’s a great event, because it allows those younger kids to go out and rope a calf and tie one down,” said Doug Screws of St. Vrain, who had two sons in Thursday’s performance at the High Plains Junior Rodeo Finals at the Curry County Mounted Patrol Arena — 12-year-old Lucas in the double mugging and 15-year-old Logan in traditional calf roping.
“The safety factor is you’ve got that older individual there helping him — flanking the calf and holding it until he has it tied,” Screws said.
Tuff Cooper had the best time Thursday at 12.50 seconds. With 20 entries in one afternoon, the three older boys — the flankers — certainly had their work cut out.
One flanker, 18-year-old Ty Foster of Midland, Texas, galloped one time completely across the arena even though the younger cowboy missed roping his calf in the end. On another occasion, Foster had to throw down the calf twice — to no avail, however, as the tie came loose for a no-time.
“I get a little worn-out, but I just love to do it for those 9-through-12 guys,” Foster said. “Out of all the mugging, double mugging is my favorite to do.”
Ross Kirkes, president of the High Plains Junior Rodeo Association, said double mugging is not a new event in the annals of rodeo competition.
“There are other associations, smaller associations around Texas, that have introduced it; it’s actually an old event that grown-ups used to do in the ’30s and ’40s,” Kirkes said.
“This is a really good intermediate step. It’s safe, because we have an older boy actually throw the calf,” Kirkes said. “The younger boy gets the practice and familiarity of tying. And they don’t have to worry about tackling a 220-pound calf when they’re only 80 pounds.”