Peter Porter, foreground, of West Paris and Owen Richmond, background, of Bethel ride after a cow during a team roping event at Pleasant River Farms in Bethel on Sunday. Sunday’s event was a shakedown event to get horses and their riders back into roping shape after a long winter and wet spring. 

BETHEL — Dean Richmond declared his intentions to “muckle on,” as he wrestled with an 800-pound steer — a steer that had bested riders who were attempting to get a rope around him one too many times.

“Dean, you’re not 20,” Deborah Richmond shouted at her husband. 

On Sunday at the Cliff Side Arena on Pleasant River Farms, owned by Deborah and Dean, several riders, including Dean, got their fill of thrills.

“A hobby for the adrenaline junkie,” Deborah said of team roping, a rodeo event that features two horse riders, known as the header and the heeler, and a young steer, usually the Corriente breed.

The steer is released into the arena, and the header must get their rope in one of the three legal “catch” positions, around half the head and one horn, around both horns, or around the neck.

Once successfully caught, it the rider’s job to turn the steer so that the heeler can get their rope around either one or both of its hind legs. When that is done, the two riders each pull on their rope so that the steer is briefly suspended in the air, and then release it.

“It’s taking horsemanship to a new level,” said Deborah, who explained that the rider must be aware of the position of their rope, location of the steer, and their partner, all while staying upright on their own horse as the roped steer bucks and sprints around the arena.

The Richmond family got into roping at the urging of their farrier, Ernest Garcia, who has been into the sport himself for over 25 years.

In 2008, the family attended a two-day clinic in Decatur, Texas, to learn more, and have been hooked ever since. The four Richmond boys, ages 15, 17, 20 and 23, all participate since learning first on a haybale with horns — and then trying the real thing.

For the past five years, at least once in the summer, the Richmonds have invited other riders to their arena to enjoy the show — and try the sport for themselves.

“It’s like Woodsman’s Day,” Dean said. “It’s a day to demonstrate our skills, and it also gives an opportunity for people to let their horses get used to livestock.”

It may seem cruel to some, and can be an intense event to watch, but Dean said that not only are there safety precautions for the riders and their horses, the steers are taken care of, too. According to him, there have been numerous injuries to horses and riders, but never to a steer.

“It’s a matter of degree,” Dean said. “You can do it the wrong way, just like anything, but we do it the right way.”

The steers wear special helmets that protect their ears and horns from rope burn and other injuries.

“If you think about it, they have all the weapons,” said Dean, laughing as he jumped out of the way of incoming horns over a foot long, while Deborah watched with a smile.

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Cows are rounded up at Pleasant River Farms in Bethel on Sunday. Medium-size cows are separated from the heard and chosen because they are an ideal size for team roping. Large cows simply weigh too much and may cause injuries to horses or those riding in the event. 

Carter Richmond, 15, chooses tack while getting his brother’s horse ready for the team roping event at Pleasant River Farms in Bethel on Sunday. Richmond, a sophomore at Hebron Academy, rides as well, but his horse is recovering from an injury. Owen Richmond rode Jetset, the horse that his younger brother got ready. 

Dylan Richmond, 17, brings an American Paint into the barn at Pleasant River Farms in Bethel. Richmond is one of four boys, raised by Dean, right, and Deborah Richmond. 

Owen Richmond, left, his father, Dean, Ryan Eastman and Ernest Garcia successfully get a cow back in the pen at Pleasant River farms in Bethel on Sunday. 

Pleasant River Farms owner Dean Richmond, right, and team roping legend Ernest Garcia chat during Sunday’s event.  

Peter Porter, left, of West Paris aims for the cows hind legs while Owen Richmond of Bethel ropes the cow during a team roping event at Pleasant River Farms in Bethel on Sunday. 

Peter Porter of West Paris rides Oscar Mayer during a team roping event at Pleasant River Farms in Bethel on Sunday. 

Luc Gervais of Greenwood puts a horn wrap on a cow prior to the start of the team roping event at Pleasant River farms in Bethel on Sunday. Horn wraps protect the cows ears when the cow is roped. Farm owner Dean Richmond is at left. Gervais is a Lewiston firefighter. 

Cows wear horn wraps during team roping events to protect their ears when being roped.

Paige Garcia of West Paris, Peter Porter of West Paris and Dylan Duclos of Andover warm up their quarter horses before Sunday’s team roping event at Pleasant River Farms in Bethel. 


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