If you haven’t heard, this week through Saturday, the Central Wyoming Fair and PRCA rodeo is happening. The event runs from 7th-15th July at the Fairgrounds in Casper.The PRCA (Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association) Rodeo is sponsored in part by Fremont Motors Fiat, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, RAM in Casper. RAM Trucks help sponsor rodeos and PRCA pickup men throughout the country in over 500 rodeos. You’ll likely notice the RAM pickup men working at the arena, and I got the chance to talk to one of them: Clint Humble.
What is a pickup man?
Yes Clint does drive a pickup and it happens to be a RAM, but the job of a pickup man at the rodeo is to pick up the contestants after they compete. Some might call them the heroes of the rodeo or the ghosts of the rodeo, as they swoop in on horseback to rescue the bronc riders. Not only that, but the pickup men are pivotal to the safety of the event. Riders can get caught up in stirrups or rigging, or a horse might decide to drag a rider along the barriers. It’s the pickup man’s job to avoid wrecks from happening.
The pickup men also guide the roughstock horses and bulls back out of the arena. That means that these guys are at the top of their game when it comes to roping and catching. The audience doesn’t want to sit waiting for 30 mins between competitors. Most of the time, pickup men will work the arena in pairs.
One of the men you’ll be sure to see there is pickup man Clint Humble from Newell, SD. Clint has been a long time professional (PRCA) pickup man since 1998. I asked him, “how do you become a pickup man?” He replied, “You just kinda got make your way in, it’s a trusted job, it’s hard to convince someone that a kids capable of doin’ it”. Clint said since he’s been a kid, he’s always been intrigued by the pickup men. “…As far I’m concerned, they’re the real cowboys of the rodeo, always taking care of everything, try to keep wrecks from happening, or fix it if there is one”.
Clint works as a pickup man at about 20 rodeos throughout the year, traveling all over the U.S. from Housten to Pendleton. He has been a pickup man for the Badlands Circuit, Dodge National Circuit Finals as well the Omaha Finals Tour. Clint says the highlight of his career was getting to be a pickup man at the NFR (National Finals Rodeo). I asked Clint what the craziest thing was that has ever happened to him at a rodeo. He answered,”well I guess I had a horse fall, knocked me out one time, messed my shoulder up”.
Clint brought 7 horses with him to the Casper and will typically use between 4 or 5 horses a night. He switches horse before it gets tired. “Just like anything, if they get tired, it takes the fun out of the job and they quit working”. When Clint isn’t working as a pickup man, he works on a ranch in SD. He also trains his own horses, sometimes he’ll start them, other times he’ll buy them or when he get’s them they are pretty green.
I asked Clint how can we recognize him in the arena, he laughed and said, “I’ll be the one in the black RAM chaps”. Rephrase, how can tell you from the other pickup man? He replied, “I’m skinnier than he is!”
The RAM Chaps
I was always curious if the pickup men got to keep the RAM chaps. They do not. (insert sad emoji?). They belong to RAM Rodeo. With the chaps being black too and pretty heavy, as I suspected, Clint confirmed that they are hot to work in out in the sun. So next time you watch at the rodeo, let’s hear it for the pickup men.
For more information on the event, click here.
You also have the chance to enter and win $70,000 in the RAM Rodeo Sweepstakes. There are RAM trucks on display under the grandstand.
Photos: L Baures