Pee-wee bull rider Dakota Moore tucks her braids into her helmet and fastens her vest across her chest. Though she sports princess decals on her protective gear, the young cowgirl is a paragon of grit as she slides onto the back of her 600-pound bovine opponent.

Dakota is just one of the young rough stock contestants at this year's Rank Lil Buckers competition during the Kiowa County Fair last Friday.

Families from Colorado and Kansas brought their 6 to 18-year-old cowboys and cowgirls to Eads, Colo., to try their luck at miniature bull, saddlebronc, and ranch bronc competitions.

Rough stock events are a fan favorite at rodeos across the nation, but for these events to continue, the sport must recruit and adequately train young athletes.

Rank Lil Buckers is an organization dedicated to ensuring the longevity of rough stock by producing quality events that prepare the next generation effectively and safely according to Kiowa County Fair Board member, Mike Johnson.

Depending on age and size, children are placed into pee-wee, junior, and senior divisions. The rough stock animals must also meet certain size and criteria to buck at a Rank Lil Buckers event.

The objective is to put the young guns on animals who will challenge them and build confidence, without harming or scaring them away from the sport according to Rank Lil Buckers Stock Contractor Jeff Louderback.

Though the event was packed with talent and fierce competition, these cowboys and cowgirls walked away with top honors:

Pee-Wee Bull Riding: Dakota Moore with 62 points
Pee-Wee Saddle Bronc: Rhett Brey with 63 points
Senior Ranch Bronc: Crowley McCuistion with 69 points
Senior Bulls: Crowley McCuistion with 76 points

Winners of the event received cash prizes and qualified for the Rank Lil Buckers Central Regional Finals.

Finalists from each region will compete at the Rank Lil Buckers National Finals during the esteemed Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.