By JERRY SOIFER
Special to The Press-Enterprise
At 32, Norco-Hemet's Scott Miller is perhaps a little old on the pro rodeo circuit.
But he isn't going away soon, as he demonstrated to a crowd of 1,250 Sunday at the final performance of the California Circuit Finals rodeo at the George Ingalls Equestrian Center.
Miller stayed on a bucking horse named Blame Game for the full eight seconds to record a score of 81, which gave him the saddle bronc title for the rodeo and the season championship for the California circuit.
Miller was one of 16 cowboys and cowgirls to qualify from the California circuit for the Dodge National Circuit Finals in Pocatello, Idaho next year. He was the only Inland area winner in Norco. His scores of 76, 78 and 81 gave him the highest average for the three performances from among the 12 competitors in the event.
"I've probably got a few years left in me," Miller said. "As long as I love doing it I will still get on a horse. I've got buddies I ride with all year."
Miller said the warm, dry, windy weather didn't bother him. He said the victims of the wildfires ravaging Southern California were on his mind.
Freeway closures did not harm the rodeo, which Ted Hoffman, vice president of the California circuit, pronounced a success. Despite Highway 91 being closed Saturday because of the Triangle Complex Fire, a standing room crowd of 4,000 attended. A crowd of 1,400 braved high winds that shredded some banners Friday.
Hoffman said some fans spent two to three hours on the road Saturday to get to the rodeo. Those who couldn't make it were allowed to use their Saturday tickets Sunday.
Some of the pros and rodeo queens helped 22 children, ages 4-13 with various disabilities, take part in the Challenged Children's Rodeo before the finals.
Ed Loveland, of Lake Elsinore, smiled as he watched his son, James, 8, who has autism, ride a mechanical bull.
"It brings a lot of joy to him," Loveland said. "I love watching him have fun. He's been excited for the past week."
Norco City Councilman Malcolm Miller said he attended church services at the park with 20-25 cowboys as penance for serving as volunteer bartender, something that goes against his religious upbringing.
Published: Monday, November 17, 2008