Kids learn to take risk at Ogden Pioneer Days rodeo’s mutton bustin’ event

July 24, 2018

OGDEN — Wearing the number 12 on his back, CJ George was ready to do what he had trained to do: ride a sheep as part of the Ogden Pioneer Days Rodeo mutton bustin’ event.

This was the fifth time the 5-year-old from North Ogden had made it to the rodeo. However, this was his first time participating at the event.

“I’ve been riding on Mom, a ball, a (water toy) alligator,” CJ said. He’s also practiced on his cousin’s 9-year-old dog.

CJ signed up to participate in one of the daily mutton bustin’ competitions, a pre-rodeo event in which participants ride a sheep until they fall. Around 100 kids participated throughout the week. 

The event has only a couple of requirements for participants — they have to be 5 to 8 years old and can’t weigh more than 50 pounds.

CJ had asked his mother to mutton bust last year, but he was 4 years old and was not allowed to take part. So he waited for this year.

Story continues below photo.

[imageuncropped=BZ 071918 Mutton Bustin Extras 08]

On Thursday night, he got in line until his name was called. Then, he got on the sheep and held tight to it. 

When the gates opened, the sheep came out fast. CJ came out of the chute hanging off the animal. He fell off and lost the green John Deere boot on his right foot. Thankfully, his blue mohawk bike helmet stayed on.

How long did his ride on the sheep last? Just a little under 2 seconds. 

He stood up, with the help of volunteers, in tears. He was holding his back too. CJ said he cried because he got hurt.

“(That) day my foot was hurting. I had to put tape on it because I was limping and ... I was always like, ‘Ooooh!’” CJ said before dropping on the ground as part of a re-enactment of how he fell off the sheep.

Falling off, he said, was his favorite part.

“This was my first time,” CJ said. “But I did get a T-shirt.”

Story continues below photo.

[imageuncropped=BZ 071918 Mutton Bustin 01]

Bronk Downing, an 8-year-old from Woodruff,  won first place. 

Lisa Roskelley, CJ’s mom, told the Standard-Examiner she wanted CJ to participate, in part, so he could learn to take risks.

“He cried and I honestly don’t know if it was more about losing, not feeling like he did his best,” Roskelley said. “But that night we talked about it and I was like, ‘Did you do your best?’ and he was like, ‘I did!’ and I said, ‘Excellent. That’s what it’s all about.’”

Story continues below photo.

[imageuncropped=BZ 071918 Mutton Bustin Extras 10-2]

She said this experience also taught CJ that it is OK to lose.

“I think a lot of people wouldn’t put their kid out there because they are not a rodeo family. For us, it was more about him getting to experience something in the community,” Roskelley said. “That’s OK to have them experience heartbreak a little bit too and see that he has support and that he can be OK.”

After the event, CJ was OK. He laughed with his cousins in the front row and ate a lime and blue raspberry snow cone.

When asked how he was doing, CJ simply stated, “I have my snow cone.” He said he’ll be back next year.

“I think I’ll do a little bit better,” he said. 

Contact education reporter Sergio Martínez-Beltrán at smartinezbeltran@standard.net or 801-625-4274. Follow him on Twitter @SergioMarBel   and like him on Facebook at Facebook.com/STANDARDEXSergio.

Update hourly