The wild horse races will return to the Jefferson County Fair rodeo this year — with a twist.
When the group that has put on the event in the past fell through, Edison Yazzie, of Warm Springs, approached the fair board with a new idea, and volunteered to organize it.
Instead of teams of three men, the wild horse teams will feature two men, a mugger and a shankman, and one woman, who saddles and rides the wild horse to the finish line. That type of team, in rodeo circles, is known as a two-plus-one team.
"If I was going to do this, I wanted to make this the home of it — 'Jefferson County the Home of the Two-Plus-One Wild Horse Races'," Yazzie said, adding, "I really want to make a show of it!"
With just a few weeks' notice, Yazzie located wild horses, got five teams to agree to compete, and acquired sponsors for the teams. The entry fee is normally $150 per team, but the sponsors are covering that cost. Sponsors include Kelly Simmelink of Identity Zone; Shana Johnson of DMJ Automotive, Edison Yazzie, and his two daughters, Amanda Squiemphen-Yazzie and T.J. Squiemphen-Yazzie.
The fair is adding $2,000 to the $750 entry money fees, making a total of $2,750 in prize money to be won. First prize will be $1,375, second prize, $825, and third prize $550.
The horses are being provided by the Dry Creek Boys (Harry Hisatake, Jimmy Tohet and Garrett Greene, all of Warm Springs).
The competing teams, also all from Warm Springs, are:
Casi Hisatake, with her mugger, Joseph Montes and shankman Atcitty Begay.
Brianna Moore, with mugger Landy Well and shankman, Daniel Gilbert.
Charmaine Billey with mugger, Johnny Holliday, and shankman, Koedy Florenda.
Whitley Ruiz with mugger Misha Spino, and shankman, George Spino.
Biz Scott, with mugger Robert Sam, and shankman, Larry Scott Jr.
"We'll be able to make this a yearly event for sure," said fair board member Scott Samsel.
Sponsors include Edison Yazzie, his two daughters, and the Identity Zone.
During the wild horse race, the team has to catch, halter, saddle the horse and ride it to the finish line within two minutes. It is an exciting, potentially dangerous, and unpredictable spectacle to watch.
Yazzie's rules include the horse having to be clear of the chute before the team can touch it; the woman having to be in the saddle, not hanging off one side; and that the teams have to treat the horses humanely, without kicking or hitting them.
The two-night Jefferson County Fair rodeo begins on Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m.