Pickup men in rodeo... the legacy and passion

Published: Jul. 31, 2023 at 5:29 PM CDT
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CHEYENNE, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - You see them at every rodeo, the men that swoop in and rescue the cowboy and corral the animals to the back.

These are the pickup men, and we look inside at what they do during Cheyenne Frontier Days.

Rodeo isn’t all about riding bulls and horses. It’s about getting the cowboys safely off the horse and the animals safely out of the arena.

And this is where the value and legacy of Pickup Men come into play.

Pickup men have a long history in cowboy culture.

At CFD, the six-man team ensures cowboys and livestock stay in one piece.

For Dalton Ward, this is not only his family’s legacy but his passion.

“Its just an adrenaline rush that I’ve always loved and when you have a horse that circles around to you and your horse never gets out of a trot and everything is just smooth its just a feeling that I love so much,” said Ward.

Ward’s first pickup was when he was 12, and he’s been doing this professionally for 15 years.

This cowboy says it’s something his father, Billy Ward, did for 25 years and hopes his kids will participate one day.

“We’ve been a part of it for four generations now. You know, my kids are the fourth generation that our kids of being part of it, and there’s a lot of people that want this job, and I’m just blessed to be able to have it,” said Ward.

Movie stuntman and pickup man Josh Edwards says CFD helps keep cowboy heritage alive and well.

“It’s the way we founded our nation,” said Edwards.

And they say it can be passed on to future generations.

“Most ranchers are focused on the generation to keep going to keep living our heritage, and this place is one of the places we can do that,” said Ward.

They agree it’s not for the faint of heart, it’s not an easy life, and it definitely won’t make you rich, but they say what it does pay is beyond what a paycheck can give you.

”You get the experience that everybody else in the stands is paying for. You’re right next to the action. You’re feeling the energy... You’re 10 feet from it, 20 feet from it, and there’s no other experience like it.” said Edwards. ”

“This is my vacation, you know, and this is how I can go and do it and be around my friends. We can have fun, and picking up bucking horses is one of the greatest, most fun things I’ve ever done in my life. Watching them be free and being themselves and being what they were bred to do, its just a heart warming sensation, I guess,” said Ward.

Ward says that the freedom and athleticism of horses are beyond words, and it’s why he keeps returning to being a pickup man.

Being such a physical sport, Pickup men say they will continue to do this sport as long as their bodies let them.

For them, cowboy culture is where the past meets the present and where they see their future.