Polk County Team Competes for State Ranch Rodeo Championship Title
by, ERIKA ALDRICH
Hurricane Irma changed a lot of folks’ plans in Florida in the month of September, but the not the Florida Ranch Rodeo Finals. With many different events closing or being postponed, there were fears the storm may have affected the holding of the ranch rodeo. However, come hell or high water, hurricane or no, the rodeo must go on! The event itself was held September 29th and 30th at the Silver Spurs Arena in Osceola. Teams from all over Florida came together to test their skills against each other in areas like bronc riding, calf branding, wild cow milking, and more. This year’s show was a welcome diversion from the problems caused by Irma for the majority of Florida’s agriculture industry, and there was the excitement of a tie for first place to add to the mix. Kenny Raney was part of the Polk County-based team that tied for first, and he shared his experience on the entire event.
Raney shared that the team, sponsored by the Carter Family’s JMC Ranch out of Lake Wales, was made up of himself, Travis Manley, Keith Walter, Mara Holton, and Colman Davis. “Three of us actually work at the ranch part-time,” Raney shared. He explained that he, Manley, and Walter all “help out on the ranch, any time it (the ranch) needs help, like with immunizations or branding, we go out and help with it.”
Teamwork is a big part of winning the events at this rodeo as all of the seven events are team efforts except bronc riding. The JMC Ranch team is well-versed in the skills and expertise needed to run a cattle ranch, including the teamwork skills, and they proved it in their excellent performances at the competition.
Raney shared that he thought his team performed best overall in the wild cow milking, but he also added, laughing, “but I’d say we did well in all of them because we came in first!” He explained that the total of the seven events—bronc riding, calf branding, team doctoring, colt riding, double mugging, team sorting, and wild cow milking—were scored dead even between the JMC Ranch team and J3 Cattle team at the end of the two-day event. It was a tie for first place and Champion of the Florida Ranch Rodeo Finals.
“They decide who wins by which team had the best time in the first competition,” Raney explained, which was the calf branding competition. “They beat us by three seconds,” he shared. So, technically, J3 Cattle took the championship, but in reality, the two teams were separated in skill and raw talent by a mere three seconds.
Raney and the JMC Ranch team already have their eyes on next year. When asked what his hopes for the 2018 Florida Ranch Rodeo Finals were, Raney quipped, “Not to have to tie for first!” With eyes on the prize, the JMC Ranch team is determined not to let three seconds stop them from the championship title again.