LANSFORD, N.D. (AP) — Rodeo has always been a big part of Midwestern culture, and RC Buckerz is bringing it back to the kids.

"Our goal is to help young children get a start in the rough stock side of rodeo," RC Buckerz's founder Michelle Rudland said. "We have size appropriate, experienced animals we are very careful about putting children on."

Based in Lansford, Rudland is giving kids the opportunity to get their start in rodeo through her bucking pony company, the Minot Daily News reported . Not only is it about learning new skills, RC Buckerz also teaches kids responsibility and respect for animals and others. Rudland said so far the kids have been nothing but great.

The great thing about "Rough Stock," according to Rudland, is participants don't need their own animals. She said as long as kids and adults have the equipment and the right attitude, they can do it.

Rudland started the program out of her own personal love of rodeo. Her father used to ride back in the day and she grew to love it through her parents. Now, with RC Buckerz, she's trying to pass that love of rodeo on to her own children and other kids in the area.

"I noticed a decrease in rough stock riders in the state," Rudland said. "Riders aren't getting experience young enough to learn the basics. Kids at 16 or 17 years old will get bucked and hurt by the bigger animals."

Rudland is giving children the opportunity to learn the basics and hone their rodeo skills on smaller, experienced animals. With this approach, she said, kids will gain confidence and experience to be able to go on into rodeo as adults with a lower chance of serious injury.

RC Buckerz has ponies and one mule they do all the trimming, seeding and check-ups for on their own. RC, like all of rodeo, is family-oriented for Rudland. She has the help of her children and together they take care of the animals and run their events.

RC Buckerz will go to standard rodeos when invited, like the N.D. Rodeo Association, and will bring along their ponies. They work with the children and take care to put the kids on the right ponies. They made their debut last April with the Abrahamson Rodeo Company in Minot.

Ponies, according to Rudland, only get better with time. They have a variety of ponies from high-buckers to starters. Their goal is to get kids educated, not hurt.

As far as success, RC Buckerz has two kids, Coy Hepper and Tyler Villarreal, heading to Las Vegas Dec. 7 to compete in the Junior National Finals Rodeo.

"Coy is a great kid. That young man is going places," Rudland said. "We worked really hard with Tyler this year. It's his first year on ponies. We're pretty proud of both young men."

Hepper is a fifth-grader from Keene who is representing North Dakota in the Mini-Bareback Riding World Championship Series.

Villarreal, a seventh-grader out of Ryder, will also be competing and representing the state in Las Vegas.

The ultimate goal, aside from getting kids to Vegas, is getting the ponies themselves to Vegas. Rudland prides herself on the care she puts into the animals, and to be nationally recognized for their ponies would be a dream.

Last spring, RC Buckerz held a bucking camp that was really successful, according to Rudland. She's hoping to host more this spring before the season starts.

This first year for RC Buckerz has been nothing short of a success for Rudland. Not only for the kids, but the communities they go to. Rudland said the children's rodeo is "some of the greatest cowboy action ever." Rudland encourages everyone to experience junior rodeo, even if you don't know anyone competing, because you are sure to be entertained.

To follow the RC Buckerz journey or talk with Michelle Rudland, visit their Facebook page at RC Buckerz.

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Information from: Minot Daily News, http://www.minotdailynews.com