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Saturday, May 21, 2011

Celebrities, Cowboys Kick Off Rowell Ranch Rodeo

Celebrities, Cowboys Kick Off Rowell Ranch Rodeo
Special Olympics athlete Shane Bonetti's demeanor has been a huge plus. Horses are intuitive, and Shane passed his calmness and confidence directly to his horse.

Riddle: What do former Oakland Raider John Vella, state Sen. Ellen Corbett, former Assemblyman Johan Klehs, and Special Olympics athlete Shane Bonetti have in common?  
Answer: Cows at the Rowell Ranch Rodeo, of course!
These four politicians and athletes were among the local celebrities who participated in the celebrity team penning event at the kickoff of Rowell Ranch Rodeo on Wednesday. Others were Dennis Waspi of Hayward Area Recreational District and Mary Garcia of Eden Center Hospital Foundation.
Special Olympics athlete Shane Bonetti, 17, of San Lorenzo has become a rodeo favorite and star of the Twittersphere since a story about him was posted earlier this week on Castro Valley Patch.
Here are the handles of just some of the people who have Tweeted so far about Shane's participation in the celebrity penning event: @cowboybychoice, @AutismTips, @kaizenphysio, @KateWinsletGHF,  @francisjuradom,  @PeterBrownPsy,  @DavisJames24, @MexCAN and @robynurse38.
Shane has autism. He has participated in the Special Olympics for disabled youngsters for the past five years and on Wednesday partnered with Castro Valley cowboy Jerry Dominguez, who—along with Vella of the Raiders—has long been involved with Special Olympics. 
After the penning event, Dominguez exclaimed for all to hear, "You da man, Shane!" Dominguez also emceed the event with humor and gusto, pausing only to ride with Shane.
In penning, the arena is filled with 20 cows, and two each are marked with the numbers zero through 10. An announcer calls out a number and, if  the number is 5, for example, two of the three-person team members must sort out the two cows marked 5, separate them from the others, and drive them down the arena and into the box. The third cowboy is in charge of guarding the box. He moves away to let the right cows in and blocks the entrance to keep the wrong cows out.
Shane's calm, confident, gentle demeanor has been a huge plus in working with horses, which are very intuitive about their riders. A  nervous, fearful rider will make a horse nervous and fearful, but Shane passed calmness and confidence  to his horse. 
Shane has been training with Sarah Deane at Rancho de Los Amigos on Cull Canyon Road. A patient and knowledgeable trainer, Sarah covered basic horsemanship on the ground and in the saddle, and provided Shane with a good foundation. 
Wednesday was the first time that a Special Olympics youngster has ridden in the Rowell Ranch Rodeo. 
The kickoff went smoothly under a blue sky dotted with fluffy white clouds after unseasonal cold rain that ended just that morning. The experienced and celebrity cowboys and cowgirls drove cows into a small corral at the end of the arena.  
Also on tap were the traditional cowboy tri-tip Bar-B-Q and a stellar performance by the Flying Fillies Drill Team.  Stay tuned for more rodeo events to come—something every day through Sunday.

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