By LAURA QUEZADA News Review Staff Writer– This Saturday and Sunday, July 29 and 30, Tehachapi Pro Rodeo hosts a Junior Rodeo at the Tehachapi Rodeo Grounds near East Tehachapi Blvd and Dennison Road. Check-in starts at 7 am, and the events begin at 8 am.
Trona’s 14-year-old junior world champion, Caid McCullar, will compete in bull riding, team roping, and steer stopping. Bull riding is staying mounted on a bucking bull, team roping is immobilizing a full-grown steer, and steer stopping is roping and stopping a steer and making it face you.
In June, Caid placed seventh in bull riding in the Junior World Finals held in Georgia. There were competitors from around the world, including Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, and the USA, with folks from Hawaii included.
One must win a lot of rodeos to make it to the Junior World Finals. Caid’s mother, Melissa, tells us, “There are thousands that get funneled down. You have to make it in your district. You have to be in the top five to make the State finals in your district. At the State finals, you have to make it in the top four to make it to the national finals. There were roughly 150 that made it to the nationals. And then from there, you have to make it to the short round, which is the top 20 out of the rides by the end of the week.” From there, your placement is established.
Caid was born and raised in Trona to a rodeo family. His grandparents, Jinks and Lana McCullar (the unofficial mayor of Trona) are rodeo folks, as is his mom Melissa and dad, Skylar. His older brother, Jace, went to nationals, and his younger brother, Kail, is part of his roping team.
Caid became a rodeo rider when he was three years old. His first ride was on a sheep in an event called Mutton Busting. The sheep would run around a lot. He has a hint of memory of those times. Caid remembers when a family friend mounted him on a sheep, and he was a bit nervous since his dad always did the honors of putting him in the rodeo chute and on the sheep.
After Mutton Busting, he started Calf Riding when he was six. He remembers, “It’s a little scary, but you push past it. You just have fun and get all excited.”
Friends and family coached Caid as far as they were able. These days he trains and practices at the Tinoco Bucking Bulls Ranch in Bakersfield. Kids are trained and ride for free. But you need to do more than just show up and ask to ride. First, you need to send video footage of your most recent rides. They evaluate and place you accordingly so you can grow. Melissa says, “They teach them the proper way so that they will be safe.” Part of safety is wearing a helmet with a face mask and a Kevlar vest.
The supportive community of Trona rallied together in support of Caid. Melissa tells us, “They surprised us. The people from town put on a chili cook-off fundraiser. It was amazing. They raised some substantial funds for him. It’s a huge expense to go to Nationals. Getting there is no small feat; they came together and just put on a huge thing at the Senior Center. And then we’ve had some amazing people who just walked in and donated. Some Angel donors, that’s for sure.”
Caid says, “I want to thank everybody that donated for me to have this opportunity.”