COLORADO SPRINGS — Some local cowboys and cowgirls are gearing up, grabbing their saddles, and getting their horses ready to rodeo. It's for the 24th annual Pikes Peak Special Rodeo, taking place Saturday tomorrow morning at the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame.
Richard Janitell, the chairman of the Pikes Peak Special Rodeo said the event began in 1997 and was started by four Pikes Peak Range Riders.
"It was designed to help special needs kids with horses and also, to promote their western heritage," said Janitell, who also mentioned riders are as young as seven years old, while one is over 60.
Riders from two local therapeutic riding centers will compete in the rodeo. There will be six riders from the Colorado Springs Therapeutic Riding Center, and six riders from Stable Strides.
"They're competing in different events. We have goat tying, we have pulls, we have a flag race and we have barrel racing," said Janitell. "We will crown the winners of each event and then a cowboy or cowgirl will get an event buckle."
Among the riders practicing beforehand is 18-year-old Kate Smith, who will be representing the Colorado Springs Therapeutic Riding Center. Her father, Mark, said Kate suffered a traumatic brain injury and has been riding horses therapeutically since she was five years old.
"It's been incredible. It helps with core strength, speech, cognitive recognition a multitude of things. It's been the most incredible therapy she's ever had," said Smith.
Smith mentioned this is Kate's first time competing in the Pikes Peak Special Rodeo, and Friday morning, she was getting her practice runs in.
"Today is a lot of practice. She'll be practicing all the events she'll be riding in, the goat roping, the barrels," said Smith.
Last year's event was canceled because of COVID-19, but riders are excited to make strides on the big stage.
"It allows her to show off all the skills and all the therapy and lessons that she's been doing all these years, in front of some other people, and hopefully inspire some other people to try therapeutic horseback riding and see that they can compete," said Smith.
All the proceeds from the event will benefit the Colorado Springs Therapeutic Riding Center and Stable Strides. Admission to the special rodeo is free. It kicks off at 8:30 Saturday morning, with the first event at 9.am.
Events for the 80th annual Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo will begin Wednesday, July 14, and go through Saturday, July 17.
For more information about the rodeo, click here.