It was on a horseback riding vacation in Lanai, Hawaii that I first learned of the Molokai Stampede. My Lanai riding guide, Cody Bradford, was wearing beautiful custom-made western chaps tanned from the hides of axis deer, unique to the Hawaiian islands of Lanai and Molokai. In his office I spied a hand tooled leather western saddle with Molokai Stampede boldly stamped on the leather fenders of the saddle.
Paniolo – Hawaiian cowboy
“When is this Molokai Stampede? And where can I get a pair of chaps like that?” I asked Cody.
It turns out that my wrangler hailed from Benjamin, Utah with ranching blood running thick in his veins. He competes annually in the Molokai Stampede, taking place the first weekend in November at Kapualei Ranch. Cowboys and cowgirls from all over Hawaii ship their horses over by barge, anxious to compete with one another in roping and riding skills at this rodeo.
I had the pleasure of having dinner with Molokai Paniolo Reyn “Goat” Dudoit at his Kapualei Ranch after watching him team rope with his son.
Dudoit was a surfer until the age of 21. Ready to go professional, Dudoit questioned his commitment to surfing when he felt somewhat crowded by the pressure of fellow surfers staking their claim on the waves.
“We grew up on a ranch,” reflects Dudoit. “My brother got me hooked on rodeo. I love horses. They are so smart.” says the professional Quarter horse breeder and cowboy. “I still have my surfboards, but I prefer the saddle,” smiles Dudoit. “I find my peace on horseback.”
If You Go:
Kaunakakai, Hawaii 96748
Article, photos and video by Equine Writer Nancy D. Brown. Top photo courtesy of Wendy Harvey. Cowgirl photo courtesy Molokai Ranch Facebook page.