Special needs children ride horses at Tucker Day Rodeo

Children with disabilities had the chance to shine at the Tucker Day Rodeo on Sunday.

Black Hills FOX Reporter Katrina Lim takes us to Hill City for the big event.

More than 50 special needs children showed off their horseback riding skills at the Tucker Day Rodeo at Double Diamond Ranch.
Riders participated in barrel racing, pole bending, and other events.

Rodeo co-director Lee Ann Jensen says she and her husband started this event nine years ago because of a little boy named Tucker.

Lee Ann Jensen says, "We had hosted a ranch horse competition at our ranch here and there was a little boy named Tucker Blaine that came and rode in the rodeo and he stole our hearts. It was that simple. He had down syndrome and my husband said, 'I want to have a rodeo for special needs children.' And that's how it started. The next year was the first annual Tucker Day Rodeo."

Ten-year-old Garret Beck has been riding at this rodeo for three years.

Garret's father Jesse says his son has some developmental delays, and he did have a hole in his heart when he was born.

Garret loves to say 'Yeah,' and his father loves seeing his son spend time with special needs children just like him.

Jesse Beck says, "It's very important. There's so many times they don't get the chance to express themselves or be themselves in a normal setting so when they can be with other kids more like themselves, they're able to be just that, just themselves."

Thirteen-year-old David Edsen has been volunteering at the rodeo for four years.

He says he spends the whole day setting up to see the kids' smiling faces.

David Edsen says, "I have some kids that go to my school who have special needs and I have some - I know a lot of people who have special needs and so this is for them. Unfortunately they can't come here, but I'm doing this for them because I really love and care for them."

Tucker Day Rodeo also involved a barbecue lunch, gold panning, strider bike riding, face painting, and balloon animals.

The event is free to all the children and their families because of their many sponsors and fundraisers.