Riderless horse honors fallen firefighters at Prescott rodeo


by Crystal Cruz


Posted on July 2, 2013 at 5:00 PM

Updated Friday, Jul 5 at 10:30 AM

PRESCOTT, Ariz. -- A 126-year-old tradition is going on this week in Prescott. In honor of the 19 fallen firefighters, the Prescott Frontier Days Rodeo is dedicated to them.

"It sure has affected the rodeo community," said rodeo manager J.C. Trujillo.

Trujillo hopes people will put aside their grief and smile at least for a few minutes.

Each night the opening show is dedicated to the firefighters killed in the Yarnell Hill Fire on Sunday.

Photographer James Fain has been photographing special moments at the rodeo for the past 31 years. On Monday, he took photos at the start of the rodeo of a horseless rider carrying a firefighter's helmet.

"I'm just trying to capture the moment, really, and trying to show the somberness of the cowboys along the chutes there with all of their hats off," Fain said. "Seeing that helmet on that saddle horn and the boots and the stirrups, yeah, I got a little emotional."

The deaths are touching some of the toughest cowboys, including Trujillo, who teared up during an interview on the radio along with the disc jockey.

"We both had tears in our eyes," Trujillo said. "We both got a giant lump in our throat."

The show must go on and so far ticket sales haven't been affected.

On Saturday, the state's second largest parade will also be dedicated to the Granite Mountain Hotshots killed on the job.