By Rick White
CLOVIS — Keith Moore liked the idea of his son and daughter taking part in junior rodeos because it kept them out of trouble, he said. It was getting home at 3 or 4 in the morning from a junior rodeo and having to get up for work the next day that got old fast.
Out of sleep depravation and grumpiness was born the idea for the High Plains Junior Rodeo Association, which is now in 30th year.
“It’s probably doubled in size since we started it,” said Dwayne Ridley, one of the five co-founders of the association. “That first year it wasn’t very big. We had kids from Curry and Roosevelt County plus a few from Quay County and West Texas.”
More than 250 participants from eastern New Mexico and West Texas are competing in the season-ending HPJRA Finals this week at the Curry County Mounted Patrol Arena.
“I was just tired of driving all the time,” Moore remembers. “So we got together and tried to figure out what we could do.”
He said the five friends who all had children competing in rodeos spent a year hashing out the rules and bylaws for the organization.
All the rodeos would be held within a 100 miles of Curry County.
For the first five years, Moore, Ridley and the three other co-founders would organized and run the rodeos in each town.
“We enjoyed it,” said Ridley, who supplied all the roping calves and steers. “But it was a lot of work.”
Moore said they tried to keep it simple in the beginning — three age groups and four events in each age group — all with designs of getting the families home at a decent hour.
“I really enjoyed the relationships I formed with people,” Moore said. “Some of the guys that were kids than are grown ups now and I enjoy visiting with them.”
Moore, who hopes to make it out to the arena this week after recently undergoing knee replacement surgery, said he takes pride in knowing his grandsons are competing this week in a rodeo that he helped get started.
“People don’t realize the time and effort rodeo takes,” Moore said. “And the best thing is it keeps kids out of trouble. Especially nowadays.”