FELLSMERE — From as young as 4 months, youth got sweaty, dusty and tired riding horses, bustin' mutton, and taming bulls at the Steve Mauldin Memorial Youth Rodeo Buckle Series Saturday at the Fellsmere Riding Club.
The stands at the club were filled with spectators, rooting on the young riders as they threaded their horses between poles and tied goats.
Amongst those in the crowd were the grandmother and aunt of Siearra Holmes, a 10-year-old rider who has been riding for five years.
"I'm amazed watching," grandmother Joann Holmes said. "They have no fear. They make it look so easy but it's not."
Siearra's aunt, Michele Holmes, was equally amazed by the caliber of the riders at the rodeo, noting that, as a teacher, she has seen some of her former students out in the arena riding.
Siearra rides in multiple competitions, including barrel racing, pole racing, hairpins, and goat roping.
"That's the best one," Michele said.
One of Siearra's fellow riders, Ally Fahey, placed fifth in the Junior Poles division, riding her 6-year-old gelding Levi, whom she's had for eight months.
Twelve-year-old Fahey, a seventh grader at Sebastian River Middle School, has been riding for three years.
"I really like them," Fahey said of horses. "They're pretty."
Her appreciation for horses led her to start riding - and she hasn't stopped.
"Western riding is fun and easy," she said. And of the several events in which she rides, her favorite is the goat tying.
"It's a jackpot event," she said, explaining that it is one event that the riders can win money.
The best part of the rodeo, Fahey said, is drawing from the excitement and the cheers of the crowd.
"They get you and your horse ready to go," she said.
Not quite ready to join the rodeo fully was 6-year-old Janielle Kahn, who rode a sheep for the first time - in the Mutton Bustin' "competition."
"Because I wanted to," she said when asked why she would want to do such a thing.
She had ridden a horse before and she said that was fun - but she wanted to try something different this time.
"It was scary," Kahn said of riding the sheep, which took off like a shot down the center of the arena.
She held on tightly to the sheep, fingers clinging tightly to the wool.
"I fell off and got sandy," Kahn said giggling. She said she would do it again if given the chance.
Saturday's rodeo was supposed to be the finals but due to inclement weather earlier in the rodeo season and the cancelation of one of the competitions, the finals were pushed back.
The finals are scheduled for Oct. 15 at the Fellsmere Riding Club, beginning at 3 p.m. Admission and parking are free and the public is encouraged to come out and cheer on the riders. For more information, call Wayne Henderson at (772) 473-0989.