The wild horse race is the final event of the day at every Cheyenne Frontier Days rodeo. But this last event can be the most fun at times.
The event consists of teams of three people and an unbroken horse. The three individuals are a mugger, a shanker and of course the rider. But no job is less important than the other.
“Every spot has its own difficulties,” says Wade Agin, who has been racing wild horses for 23 years. “Assault is more aggressive, there is a certain mentality that goes with the position and you are much more in the kill zone.”
The main job of the raid is to control the horse’s head to prevent it from rearing up. The mugger and shanker work together to control the horse, while the shanker holds the lead rope to keep the horse from running away. Agin said the shanker is a type of seat belt as he tries to use the rope to hold the mugger near the horse.
Another veteran in the game, Billy Sharton has spent most of his time raiding but has moved on to taking on the responsibility of a subject in the past three years. He agreed that being robbed isn’t necessarily safe.
“I robbed my first six years and I found out that robbery is harder because you are in the danger zone,” Sharton said. “You are the one who makes the biggest decision. I was kicked many times as a mugger and only once as a curmudgeon.”
As you can imagine, the blood starts pumping, which leads to the horse being released from the slide. The adrenaline that comes from the run is almost unmatched.
“There are always butterflies from the start,” said Agin. “They used to start right when you woke up in the morning, but now it’s only about 15 minutes before you line up for me… The only way to get the adrenaline pumping – I know it’s a bad thing to say – is to run away from them Police.”
Sharton confirmed that the thrill is something that is difficult to compare.
“It’s pretty crazy. You have this feeling that gets out of hand, sometimes you forget to breathe, ”said Sharton. “Two to three days beforehand, I let my stomach fall over and begin to get a little nervous and excited. But about half an hour before you are ready to go, you can feel how everything is jerking at you, and when you open the slide there is a calm and you know that you have got around to it. “
Agin has often found herself on the right side of success. The 41-year-old was part of teams – including his brother – that won world titles in 2005, 2007 and from 2012 to 2016. He also earned bragging rights on “Daddy of ’em All” in 2000, 2002 and 2017.
The competition runs through his blood. His father and uncles founded the Wild Horse Racing Association in the early 1970s. The horses are a little less wild than they were 50 years ago, but that doesn’t detract from the rewarding feeling that comes over someone when they have a successful run.
“The first time you raid a horse, you feel inviolable,” said Sharton. “It’s just so crazy, the feeling you have because the horse is so much bigger and stronger than you.
“If you can stop an animal that size, you feel great, you feel bulletproof.”