Strohmenger wins calf riding during SCYBR season opener at Hauser’s Bucking Bull Arena

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Ten-year-old Tucker Strohmenger of Menifee wins the calf riding division Sunday, March 15, at Hauser’s Bucking Bull Arena in Winchester. Valley News/Andrea Kaus photo

The 2020 Southern California Youth Bull Riders season began March 15 at Hauser’s Bucking Bull Arena in Winchester, and the event winners included 10-year-old Tucker Strohmenger of Menifee.

Strohmenger was in the calf riding division and had a score of 64 points on his ride. Three active Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association bull riders served as judges for the SCYBR competition: Emiliano Garcia of Hesperia, Jeremy Kolich of Norco and Corey Rickard of Nuevo.

More than 20 young riders competed in the SCYBR event.

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Participants await the national anthem as the Southern California Youth Bull Riders season kicked off Sunday, March 15, at Hauser’s Bucking Bull Arena in Winchester. Valley News/Andrea Kaus photo

“It went great. We have a lot of calf riders this year,” SCYBR president Junior Saenz said. “I’m truly amazed how many kids want to be involved.”

It is the SCYBR’s third season; the first competition was held in March 2018 at Hauser’s Bucking Bull Arena. The SCYBR was created to develop bull riders, and competitions have five age-level events. Wool riding is for children ages three to seven, youth seven to 10 are calf riding participants, those between 11 and 14 are in the steer riding event, the Junior Bulls division is for participants ages 14 through 16, and those ages 16 through 19 compete at the Senior Bulls level. The age groups are based on the riders’ ages as of Jan. 1. Wool riding, calf riding, and steer riding competitors must stay on their animal for six seconds, while Junior Bulls and Senior Bulls riders must remain on their bovine for eight seconds.

“We had a really good outcome. Nobody got hurt, which is the first priority,” Saenz said.

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Five-year-old Colten Bettencourt of Phelan won the wool riding event. Valley News/Andrea Kaus photo

The SCYBR lost three wool riders to the calf riding level, so the wool riding division participation has declined.

“We don’t have many this season,” Saenz said.

Since the sheep riders, some of whom competed in 2018 when the event was known as mutton bustin’, were lost to a higher division Saenz considers the transition to be positive.

“They stayed in the association,” Saenz said.

The sheep only run, but the calves buck.

“It’s a really hard division to move up,” Saenz said.

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Angel Martinez of San Marcos took in a victory with a 74-point ride. Valley News/Andrea Kaus photo

The change increases the possibility that a rider will be bucked off.

“For some of them, it’s scary,” Saenz said.

Saenz works with his stock contractors to ensure that the animals buck gently enough to ensure the riders’ safety.

“I’m really happy and honored to have a great stock contractor who brings great stock,” he said.

Alex Hauser and his wife own Hauser’s Bucking Bulls, who provided the bulls and steers. Chino stock contractor Ramiro Baeza provided the calves and sheep.

Aarron Banuelos and Raul “Iron Man” Bedoy were the bullfighters.

“Both of them fight like wolves, and I can’t ask for better fighters than those two,” Saenz said. “We trust them with our eyes closed.”

Banuelos, who is now 20, won the Senior Bulls buckle at the March 2018 SCYBR competition.

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Valley Center 9-year-old, Boogie Saenz, scored 83 points to take first place in his division for steer riding. Valley News/Andrea Kaus photo

None of the Junior Bulls competitors stayed on their bovine during the March 15 event. The wool riding was won by Phelan 5-year-old Colten Bettencourt, who will receive his first-ever rodeo buckle at the next SCYBR competition. Boogie Saenz of Valley Center, who turned nine Jan. 28, is still eligible for the calf riding event but won the first two season championships and moved up to the steer riding competition this year; he scored 83 points to take first place March 15. Angel Martinez of San Marcos followed his 2019 Senior Bulls season championship with a March 15 victory; the 18-year-old Martinez had a 74-point ride.

The March 15 event also included the first-ever crowning of an SCYBR rodeo queen; 16-year-old Mia DiGiovanni of Valley Center won that honor.

The next SCYBR rodeo had been tentatively scheduled for Saturday, April 18, although the coronavirus quarantine will likely postpone that.

“We’re going to pause it for a little bit, and hopefully we can come back,” Junior Saenz said.

Joe Naiman can be reached via email at jnaiman@reedermedia.com.