HPJRA finals: Dads give ‘mugging’ aid

Tate Seaver, 12, Clovis, prepares his horse for competition in the 9-12 boys double mugging event on Tuesday at Curry County Mounted Patrol Arena. He recorded the fastest time in Thursday’s draw. (CNJ staff photo: Andy DeLisle)

By Eric Butler: CNJ correspondent

At the Thursday morning session of the High Plains Junior Rodeo Association finals, the event of double mugging was previewed by a P.A. announcement saying that Ty Anderson “is the first man out” in the competition.

Anderson was the first of nine contestants. But categorizing any as men may be a bit premature, as the very nature of the event proved.

For the boys, between nine and 12 years old, the skill of throwing a lasso to corral a runaway calf has already been developed. The competitors also proved adept at tying three of the animal’s legs together while the calf was on the ground.

It’s the in-between step of actually lifting the calf of its feet and dropping it to the ground where the young athletes need a little help. And they get it from older cowboys — known in rodeo parlance as the “mugger.”

After 12-year-old Seaver Tate recorded the fastest time in Thursday’s draw, he was asked to identify the best mugger at the HPJRA Finals.

“Tobin Tate,” said Seaver Tate, quickly pointing out his father. “They’re all pretty good. But I like my dad.”

Tobin Tate, 40, was the busiest of three muggers on Thursday as he poised himself to chase after no less than five calves. In addition to helping his son to the day’s best time, the elder Tate also had to manhandle one stubborn calf that Hayden Moore eventually tied up in a time of 22.44 seconds.

“It makes you nervous when you try to help these kids,” the elder Tate said. “You don’t want to mess up for them. You do mess up every now and then. That’s just kind of part of it.”

Double mugging is one of two events at the HPJRA finals where contestants utilize the help of other athletes, although their helpers technically won’t be listed as part of the entry. In ribbon roping, boys rope a calf — who has a ribbon tied to its tail — and, generally, a teenage girl grabs the ribbon and races to the other side of the arena to post a time.

Given that the boys in double mugging can ask whoever they want to help, John Stallard of Fort Sumner said it was gratifying that his 12-year-old son, Brody, asked him to throw down the calf at this rodeo.

“This the first rodeo I’ve done it for him all year long. He kept after me and I told him I’d do it here at the finals,” said Stallard, 50. “I don’t think there was any particular reason. Everybody that’s done it for him all year long has done a pretty good job. I guess he just thought enough of me to ask me to do it.”

One of Thursday’s muggers, Quay Howard of Canyon, Texas, is only 14 years old. In fact, Howard was one of the young cowboys in need of assistance only a year before.

The winner of the HPJRA boys double mugging finals last year, Howard admitted he probably could have thrown down his calves a year ago by himself.

“I needed the help too, though,” he said of the more experienced muggers. “They’re a lot better than me.”