Saddle Horse Show & Rodeo maintains tradition

Warren Enz gets bucked in the bull riding competition.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. That’s a motto the San Benito County Saddle Horse Show & Rodeo lives by, where tradition is paramount and valued perhaps like no other rodeo in the country. To wit: few rodeos have track and arena events going on simultaneously, and even fewer rodeos limit the competitors to people in the local area.
“We try to keep it the way it’s been done,” said Charlie Tobias, who is one of the Saddle Horse Show & Rodeo directors. To enter the rodeo, one must either live, work or own property in San Benito County. “Hopefully things don’t change too much year to year.”
Of course, the Saddle Horse Show & Rodeo—which last weekend went on for the 83rd time—isn’t immune to change when needed. A couple of years ago, the event needed to fix the dirt at Bolado Park to make it as safe as possible for the riders and the horses, Tobias said.
The latest Saddle Horse Show & Rodeo had its usual pomp and circumstance, tradition and appeal of shows in years past. There were 5-year-olds riding sheep, all doing their best not to fall off. Boys and girls rode their horses alongside their parents in an attempt to rope the horns and heel of a steer.
The Saddle Horse Show & Rodeo tends to have long shows, with an emphasis on family members being able to ride and compete together.
“We try to keep and promote a family atmosphere,” Tobias said. “We keep it as family oriented as possible.”
As the South Valley grows and Hollister develops new residences and businesses, the Saddle Horse Show & Rodeo faces the challenge of attracting new sponsors and fans from both within San Benito County and outside the county.
The county is still heavy on agriculture; however, the population growth along with new housing means the dynamics are every changing.
“Years ago this town used to shut down for this show,” Tobias said. “We need to continually reach out and make sure people know about this show. We need to keep on attracting sponsors, contestants and new people.”
Tobias said everyone involved in the Saddle Horse Show & Rodeo appreciates the sponsors that have stuck by the event. After all, without sponsors, the show wouldn’t go on. But the show in itself has a time-tested formula that seemingly works for everyone involved.
“You don’t want to have too much change—just tweaks,” Tobias said. “And we do tweak things from year to year, but our rodeo is fairly consistent. That’s what makes it special and unique.”

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