Chance Arehart scuffed the corral dirt with his worn boots. He squinted into the sun like a hardened ranch hand and adjusted his cowboy hat.
The upcoming goat-ribbon pulling competition at the Caliente Team Penning fundraiser did not faze the 6 year old from Havilah.
Why should it? He practices by getting on his horse Jill and roping his 9-year-old brother Brayden.
"My best time is 2 seconds," Chance said. "I just kick her up and she goes."
The ribbon-pulling and the goat-dressing events were the final ones of the weekend fundraiser, now in its 31st year. Proceeds go to help the Caliente Union School District make up budget shortfalls.
There were numerous competitions over the two days at Snow's Arena, including team sorting (where numbered cows are pulled from a herd in numerical order), team penning (where three cattle must be separated from the herd and guided to a pen at the opposite end of the arena) and barrel racing.
The Arehart boys joined about 20 other kids and teens in Sunday's two goat events. The goats belonged to Ray Chanley, who runs a nearby ranch in Caliente. He uses the goats to train his border collies; the two unnamed nannies chosen for the competition accepted their indignities with a minimum of struggle.
The goat events were added to the rodeo last year because not all participants came from ranching families or owned horses. Event coordinator Luree Peet, president of the Caliente Educational Foundation, said it was a good way to include more kids.
At last year's inaugural goat ribbon-pulling event, Chanley's then 4-year-old daughter Rae Rae won the peewee division, and Sunday she was wearing the first-place belt buckle to prove it. She does well in the event, she said, because the goats "are nice to me;" her dad called her a "goat whisperer."
This year, her younger sister Raeah was gunning for her. The 3 year old was all business, giving her pink purse to her dad to hold while she prepared for the ribbon pull.
In fact, the barefoot 3 year old managed to run across the arena, yank the ribbon off a tied-up goat's tail and run back to the finish line in 14.22 seconds, a full nine seconds faster than her older sister. She immediately retrieved her purse.
But it was Justine King of Bakersfield, a 16-year-old sophomore at North High School who added the title of top goat ribbon puller to the one she won Saturday: Caliente Penning Junior Queen. That title came with a belt buckle, crown, sash and saddle; her winning ribbon-pulling time of under eight seconds earned her a blue ribbon.
A member of the Kern County Cowgirls, a drill team that performs at rodeos, King did the goat events because she thought it would be fun. Normally, she said, "I don't have anything to do with goats."
Goat dressing required teams of two to grab a leashed goat and pull a black T-shirt over its head and forelegs. The winning time of 15.07 seconds was almost as impressive as Abbi Sarti's first encounter with a goat.
The 3-year-old granddaughter of Scott and Robyn Sarti had seen goats before but never up close. The Sartis tried for several minutes to convince Abbi that it would be fun to run at the goat and grab the ribbon off its tail.
She steadfastly refused until an older girl agreed to help her. Abbi raced across the finish line with the ribbon, her face flushed.
Her grandparents exulted. It was an important first step in a logical zoological progression: They're considering buying a miniature horse for Abbi.