Lance Koppenhafer Championship 2016
by Terry Allen
August 27, 2016
It was a nice sunny morning up at the rodeo grounds in Pinedale on Saturday, August 27, 2016. Bob Bing and Todd Stevie were there early giving the tractor a jump start. When Todd figured the battery had been juiced up enough, he gave it a go and it belched a cloud of black smoke and came to life. A few seconds later he lowered the tool and tilled up the arena. I’ll have to ask why he does that…I presume it is to soften up the landing if someone gets off their horse unexpectedly. Then the water truck came in and wet it all down so it didn’t get too dusty and everybody could see the steer they were chasing.
A regular stream of big pickup trucks pulling horse trailers pulled in and lined themselves up in rows so perfect it was almost like there were lines painted in the dust and scattered patches of grass. Then they’d let their kids out to run find their friends; and unload their horses and tie them to the side of the trailers and if they weren’t saddled yet, they’d do that and other things like checking and tightening leather straps.
A mom from Jackson held her son Shawn by one arm so he couldn’t get away as she sprayed him down with suntan lotion; while his puppy bounced up to me and licked my hands and sniffed my camera.
Bob Bing gave me a minute and explained a little about the event. "It is open to the world and it’s a handicap roping so a lower skilled roper can rope in it," he said. "It’s like golf. It’s handicapped so you have a chance to win as much as a guy who ropes professionally."
I asked him to talk a little bit about his friend Lance. "Lance was a real dear friend and somebody that if you needed something or needed something fixed, he was always Johnny-on-the spot," he said. "He was always doing stuff above and beyond. He was always organizing things. He was kind of the man. He meant a lot to everybody, so that’s why we created the championship."
Duke Early said hi and wanted everybody reading this to know what Lance meant to him. "Lance helped everyone," he said. "He didn’t care if it was after 5:00 o’clock when you needed help, he’d help you anyway."
Ropers in the event were waiting around the old shed for the starting roster to be posted and when it got stapled to the wall they all leaned in and read it. As an indication of the generations, Rob Rasmussen wrote notes on his palm and young Colt Ramsey took a picture of the roster with his phone.
Boone Snidecor was coming down from the booth after paying his entry fee and I asked him if he’d share a few words about Lance. "He ran bucking horses for years," he said. "He was a hard worker and a real asset to the club. I’d call him to give him a hand with something and he’d already have it done. Lance was a go-getter done, kind of guy."
I asked Bob and Todd if it was okay if I used one side of the shed as a photo back drop for taking portraits and they said it was okay. I have an exhibit at the library in Pinedale on October 1st and the photos will be from these roping and rodeo events.
I saw Matt David at Pitchfork Fondue relaxing in a sort of historic looking way so I took a picture. Reminded me of bourbon for some reason.
Mike Miller agreed to pose for a photo and I asked him for some memories of Lance. "He really enjoyed team roping so that’s why we have this team roping named after him," he said. "He was just an easy guy to be around. He helped the community with everything. The arena in Big Piney is dedicated to him."
At the start of the event Todd Stevie gave a speech about the purpose of the event and then a lone steer was turned loose in honor of Lance.
The event went off without a hitch, no one got hurt and the prize money was pretty good.
Jr Dees and Jaden Burnett took first and $1425.
Rhett Nichols and Todd Stevie took second and $1180.
Arye Espenscheid and Brian Espenscheid took third and $930.
Brian Espenscheid and Wes Miller took fourth and $685.
Jaden Burnett and Jr Dees took fifth and $440.
Bill Gransden and Chad Espenscheid took sixth and $245.
Thank you to the Cowboy Shop for sponsoring this story and the taking of the photos. Thank you also to Justin at Pinedale Lumber for loaning me the plywood to build a portrait studio of sorts to take pictures with my old film camera. Thank you to Pinedale Online for also sponsoring this story.
The photos on this site are low resolution for internet purposes. If you’d like to buy high resolution photo prints, I can do that at a reasonable price. I like to shoot events so I am for hire for those sorts of things. You can reach me by texting or calling: 307-231-5355. My email is: email@example.com