On a hot, muggy Thursday in June, two horses kick up dust as they systematically chase a roping dummy attached to four-wheeler.
One of the boys riding, the younger of the two, sports a cowboy hat and a green shirt covered in small dollar signs. The other, a more tenured rodeo competitor, sports jeans and a blue T-shirt.
The four-wheeler takes off from the starting point for the third time with the boys’ father at the helm. The family dog sits in the back seat.
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The horses ride side-by-side as the youngest smoothly preps his lasso above his head to catch the front legs of the mechanical calf.
Once the legs are secured, the eldest immediately goes for the back legs, instantly completing the exercise.
Most days, Josh and Jacob Rorig can be found tirelessly riding and roping in their barn behind their house on the family farm.
Other days they’re in the West, competing on the national rodeo stage.
Josh, an incoming seventh-grader at Lutheran Central, recently earned a nod to compete at the National Junior High Finals Rodeo at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines.
The nationals runs the entire week of June 21.
“It was pretty exciting finding out,” Josh said with a smile from ear to ear. “What I’m really excited about is that my brother didn’t do it in sixth grade and I get to go.”
Josh’s older brother, Jacob, a junior at Brownstown Central high school, went to nationals from seventh to ninth grade. During his freshman year, he started competing with other high-schoolers.
“I’ve been doing rodeo since preschool,” Jacob said. “I started working with Josh around the time he was in kindergarten. It’s good to see him able to do it and I was able to help him. I work with him every single day.”
In the Indiana Junior Rodeo Association, Josh recently placed first in the cinch division state finals as a rookie cowboy.
“I wanted to be like my brother,” Josh said. “I started getting more into it. We usually practice together. Sometimes we have people come over.”
At Des Monies, Josh will compete in the breakaway and team roping, with Nick Walter, from Taylorsville, as his partner for the national events.
Breakaway is when a calf is roped but not thrown and tied. There is one rider who attempts to secure the calf by the head with a lasso.
Team roping is when one rider lassos the horns while the other gets the hind feet after the header secures his loop.
More than 1,000 contestants from 42 states, five Canadian provinces and Australia will take center stage to compete in numerous rodeo events.
“The team roping is probably a little more fun because you have another person,” Josh said. “It’s more fun on a team. I also like it because it’s calf roping.”
Josh and Jacob often travel to Shawnee, Oklahoma, for either competition or rodeo clinics.
Last year, the boys spent five straight weeks on the road traveling from state to state to test their rodeo skills.
In July, Jacob will travel to Shawnee to compete at the International Finals Youth Rodeo, a professional rodeo for high school athletes.
Many rodeos offer scholarship monies to those who place well. Jacob said he hopes to get a full ride to college for rodeo as he gets closer to graduation.
“I love the adrenaline and being around people who like to help each other out,” Jacob said. “When you get in the box, it’s your time. You gotta make every chance count.”
For Josh, attending his first national competition is something he’s dreamed of doing since watching his brother make it to the big time.
“I’m most excited about going out there and having fun and making new friends from other states,” Josh said. “It’s a really fun place to be.
“Before I really do the event I get a little nervous. Once I get in there I’m not nervous. Before I go in I practice on a dummy and roping it.”
Both boys said that rodeo, with the families involved, is a tight community: a sport that brings people together from across the United States and from around the world and creates lifetime friendships.
The top 20 will advance in Josh’s competition, with the finals Saturday.