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Montezuma County’s Amber Moore a fan favorite at Ute Mountain Roundup Rodeo

Friday’s riders came from Northwest New Mexico, Northeast Arizona and Southwest Colorado

CORTEZ – The stream of traffic lined up on Highway 160 to get into the Montezuma County Fairgrounds says everything about just how important rodeo is to the area.

Nine years ago, on an early summer night, those fans witnessed a special performance from one of their own, as barrel racer Amber Moore posted a run to remember. Moore, a Lewis native, won the event with a time of 18.03 seconds and captured the biggest payout of her young career.

“I remember how hard the conditions were that day, but I knew that I had a horse that could run on anything – it was really cool to win this one,” Moore, 34, said.

Since then, Moore has made the Ute Mountain Roundup Rodeo into a regular fixture in her summer plans, representing her hometown with pride.

Montezuma County barrel racer Amber Moore, seen here on Friday, has made the Ute Mountain Roundup Rodeo into a regular fixture in her summer plans. She won the event in 2015. (Courtesy of Madelaine Gaskey)

“I think this is the biggest event of the year for this area,” Moore said. “People come from all over. And this event keeps getting bigger each year, where we’re getting a ton of big names to come to UMR.”

From her first interactions with the UMR as a competitor in her early 20s, Moore has grown her own rodeo community through her travels.

“From Arizona to Canada, I’ve met so many people – and it feels like it’s a family, everybody knows everybody,” she said.

Growing up in Nucla before moving to Montezuma County, Moore always found herself around horses.

“I was riding before I could walk. I think my first belt buckle was in a rodeo in Dove Creek when I was still on a lead line,” she said. “I’ve learned that I love training the horses maybe even more than I do running them.”

Even with the nerves of performing in front of friends and family, Moore prioritizes the UMR Rodeo.

“I stick closer to home, and this rodeo is special because of the people who run it,” she said. “The whole UMR committee is focused on making sure that the community is included in all the things that are happening out here.”

Moore’s passion to compete for as long as she can still runs in her veins.

“I wouldn’t know what else I would do if I wasn’t still doing this,” she said with a laugh.

Montezuma County barrel racer Amber Moore, seen here in June 2022, has made the Ute Mountain Roundup Rodeo into a regular fixture in her summer plans. She won the event in 2015. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file)

In her barrel race competition, Moore’s effort on her horse Betty resulted in a time of 18.18 seconds. It was outside the top spots, but earned a loud roar from the home fans.

The UMR Rodeo lineup filled with plenty of area talent, with a bevy of contestants arriving from Northwest New Mexico, Northeast Arizona and Southwest Colorado to compete for the sizable UMR purse.

Shiprock’s Kim Jim competed in the breakaway roping field and scored the top time of 2.5 seconds to take the lead in the UMR field.

Dennehotso’s Matthew Tuni kicked off the night in bareback with a score of 71. Colin and Denton Begay of Rough Rock, Arizona teamed up in the team roping event, while Tuba City’s Stade Riggs and Bayfield’s Mitchie Story nodded on the saddle bronc. Riggs posted a score of 61.5.

A pair of Gallup riders entered the bull riding event with Kolt and O’Dey Tom joining Rock Point, Arizona’s Wade Tuni and Ignacio’s Luke Mackey in the field atop the tough stock from Powder River Rodeo. However, there were no eight-second rides on Friday.

Along with Jim’s leading time, new leaders emerged in other several events.

Evan Betony of Tonalea, Arizona seized the top spot in bareback with a ride of 82.5, while Allen Boore of Axtell, Utah claimed the new best mark in saddle bronc with a score of 84.5.

Jace Logan of Yampa, Colorado took the top time in steer wrestling with a mark of 4.9 seconds, while Trey Yates and Jake Clay earned the best team roping time of 4.4 seconds, and Arizona’s Sharon Harrell now owns the best barrel race effort after posting a mark of 17.45 seconds.

Rob Yates Memorial Tournament Continues Tradition

Upholding the long-standing tradition of “Cowboy Golf” for a good cause, the UMR’s Rob Yates Memorial Golf Tournament at Conquistador Golf Course in Cortez brought another year of fun to the weekend’s itinerary.

The four-person scramble brought out the best in the over 100-plus participants, and all proceeds went to the fairgrounds and rodeo facilities.

Add in the side contests like roping and games of washers, the golf tournament leveled the playing field between the veteran golfers and the once-per-year players.

In the first flight, the trio of Keenen Lovett, Kevin Lovett and Sarah Lovett posted the top finish. As for the second flight, John Franzen, JD Harrell, Craig Rowe and Rod Korte finished with the best score, while in flight three, the team of Rodney and Terry Cox, Rob Kirks and Ellis Yates won the top prize.

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