Giddy up

Malibu Ranch Rodeo offers bull riding, Western fun

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  • Photos by Anya Tikka Malibu Dude Ranch owner, Dr. Alan Detweiler.

  • Bull riding is a very fast moving event. The riders wear protective gear.

  • It was full house at the Saturday night rodeo.

  • Team roping involves two cowboys who catch the calf by the horns and back feet.

  • Photo provided Barrell Racing.

Malibu Dude Ranch

Malibu Dude Ranch Rodeos are professional championship rodeos co-approved by the American Professional Rodeo Association.
The events are bull riding, steer wrestling, team roping, calf roping, tie-down roping, and barrel racing.
Cowboys and cowgirls come from across the U.S. to compete. They earn points for their skills throughout the season and compete for money and the treasured rodeo buckles.
For more information
351 Foster Hill Rd, Milford, Pa.

Anyone who ever dreamed of attending a real Western style rodeo — or has read best-selling author Nicholas Sparks’ latest novel "The Longest Ride" centering on a bull-riding hero — need not go 3,000 miles.

About three miles from Milford’s center is Malibu Dude Ranch, the only remaining dude ranch in the northeastern states hosting rodeos throughout summer, explained owner Dr. Alan Detweiler who completely renovated the 800 acre property five years ago.

Yee haw
The Courier recently visited a Saturday night rodeo.

When it gets dark at the rodeo, the bright lights come on, and the western-sounding drawl of the announcer introduces the first event — bull riding.

“The best contestants anywhere in the country are here,” he says.

Before each rider comes out riding the bull that’s trying its best to throw him off, the air gets tense with anticipation and the assisting crew gathers around the gate to make sure everything is in order.

When the bull charges, more often than not succeeding in throwing the rider off very quickly, it’s a matter of seconds before the rider gets crushed under the enraged bull if he doesn’t get away fast enough. You’ve got to be fit. The assistants — who do their best to distract the bull — can only do so much.

In team roping, two riders come out on fast moving steers chasing a calf, and their job is to catch it with their lassos. One by its legs and the other by the horns – not an easy task, and only one team succeeded the night we visited.

In calf roping, the cowboy chases the calf, and jumps down after catching it, tying it securely for a few moments so it’s unable to move. The fastest one wins.

Barrel racing is performed at break neck speed. In this women’s event, they’re riding around the barrels in a clover leaf pattern, competing for the fastest time.

People of all ages attend the rodeos; many are families with young kids. Detweiler’s daughters, Pricilla, 14, and Victoria, 13, both rode in the rodeo.

The people at the rodeo had come from all over the country, including the riders in the rodeo.

“It’s a piece of disappearing Americana as people sit at their computers in their cubicles," Susan MacIntosh who splits her time between New York and Los Angeles said. "We’ve lost what it means to truly be a human being. It shows us a piece of masculinity and femininity that we haven’t seen in a 100 years. I love it.”

Although the rodeos come to an end at Labor Day weekend, the bar and dancing are open year round.

“This is great. I never knew it was here," said Dan Moreno who was with Susan was amazed. He lives in nearby Pond Eddy, N.Y.

“I come to this area a lot, and I’ve been to a rodeo once before," Angelo Correa from the Bronx said. "Those bulls are big — you get kicked by one of those and you get hurt.”

After the rodeo, an invite to the after party is included in the rodeo pass in the Western style Saloon where guests can dance to music played by a DJ — for $15.

Getting into the rodeo business

Detweiler has been coming to the ranch since he was a small boy. On the ranch’s web site, he attributes his becoming a medical doctor to a visit to the ranch that turned his troubled youth around.

When he heard the old ranch was in danger of being sold to a developer who wanted to put condos there, he decided to buy it.

“I spent over $5 million renovating this whole ranch,” Detweiler explained.

The ranch is a resort destination. Detweiler mentioned many locals still don’t know about it despite it being there for five years, and thought it was partly because he’s not able to have signs in Milford, although the only road to the ranch is through the town.

“The ranch is located in Westfall, and Milford has laws that state only the businesses that are based in Milford can have signs there. I would hope that there would be an exemption for the ranch, the only business in this unique position where the only road in is through Milford.”

Recently, one small sign got the permission to go up in West Harford Street.

“People have to go through Milford — they will stop at the local gas stations, buy food, shop, bringing money to the town,” Detweiler said, adding he thought it was a win-win situation. “An old saying says, ‘A business with no sign is a sign of no business.' I think they will miss it when it’s gone.”

Detweiler does not see that happening, though.

“My best reward is to see people enjoying themselves," Detweiler said.

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