Wild and crazy rodeo life

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 28, 2015

Justin Strader uses his downtime to work on his form.

Justin Strader uses his downtime to work on his form.

Justin Strader was one of the many cowboys that arrived in Andalusia this weekend to participate in The Island View Casino PCA Kickoff Rodeo I at the Covington Arena.


Strader, 22, from Terry, Miss., is a tie-down calf roper who has been involved in rodeos for the past 16 years.


Rodeo life is very demanding said Strader, and that it takes up the majority of his time.


“We practice up to 12 hours a day sometimes,” Strader said, “Working on your footwork, groundwork and your breakdown. From the time you wake up in the morning you are feeding calves to the time you put them up in the evening. It takes a lot of time and dedication. It doesn’t leave much time for anything else but schoolwork.”


Strader currently attends Jackson State in Jackson, Miss., but they don’t field a rodeo team.


“I’m looking into going to West Alabama,” Strader. “I’ve talked with their coach, and they have shown some interest. Right now though, I’m focused on making it to the National Finals.”


Strader said he and his three brothers ages, 24, 23 and 15, spend a lot of time together traveling the country, and participating in rodeos together.


“It’s wild and crazy,” Strader said of rodeo life. “There are always three or four of us together, so it’s never a dull moment.”


Strader said that all his brothers compete in the same events.


“We are all tie-down calf ropers,” Strader said. “We get very competitive. We are always trying to see who can bring in the best times. We challenge and push each other all the time.”


The brothers compete in three or four rodeos each weekend.


“We typically pull out late Thursday night or early Friday mornings heading to the first stop,” Strader said. “We split up the driving between three of us so that we can drive all night. When we arrive, we take care of the horses, and get ready for the event. Then as soon as that’s over we pull out and head to the next stop.”


Before each event Strader said that it is important to get there early and check out the calves.


“We try to get there early that way we can check out the calves, and get an idea of what they might do,” Strader said. “You try to figure out which ones might stale, stumble or jump out of the chute. Some of them fly out, and you have to get on them quick. You can’t blink your eyes or they will be gone.”


The rodeo concludes tonight with the events starting at 7:30 p.m.