DAYTON - They're the first ones into the arena at the 75th annual Dayton Championship Rodeo, in and out before the horses bearing the Dayton rodeo queen, sponsor flags, even Old Glory.
And they perform for almost the exact amount of time it takes to play Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama" over the public address system.
The Dayton Wranglers Serpentine Riders make getting 10 horses and riders to perform complex maneuvers look easy.
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Wendy Steinkamp, right, of Woodward, and her daughter, Paige Steinkamp, 15, spend a little quality time with their horses Friday evening before entering the arena with the Dayton Wranglers Serpentine Riders at the 75th annual Dayton Championship Rodeo.
Wendy Steinkamp, of Woodward, rode her horse Curly Sue for Friday night's performance.
"We practice once a week since the first of June," Steinkamp said.
The practice isn't just for the riders. The horses need to not only get used to the performance, she said, but also each other.
The Dayton National Championship Rodeo is today through Monday. The rodeo begins at 7 p.m. tonight and Sunday, and 1:30 p.m. on Monday. The flea market is open all weekend.
"You've got to make sure they get along with the others as well," she said.
Steinkamp has been riding with the Serpentine group for seven years. For five of those, she's been joined by her daughter Paige, who is now 15.
It's been good for both of them, they said.
"I have somebody I can vent to," Paige Steinkamp admitted.
"It's awesome," her mother said. "There's lots of good times together."
For Paige Steinkamp, there's another bonus to being in the group: "Getting to ride my horse a lot."
Of course, there are the difficulties. For the riders, for instance, a maneuver that stands out as being particularly difficult is the Pinwheel.
"We have to keep a straight line and everybody has to go at a different speed," Paige Steinkamp said.
Martha Steinkamp, of Fort Dodge, another family member, has been a Serpentine Rider for eight years.
Her horse Bob? "On and off for six years," she said.
When the group is practicing, the horses often learn the routine and will try to proceed before being told to.
"That can be interesting," she said.
Like the others, Martha Steinkamp enjoys being able to show the audience what she and her horse can do. Once in the ring for their show, they get to shine.
"It's worth every bit of the work," she said.
For spectators who might wonder how they stay with each other, the simple answer is a whistle like the one worn by Hali Poutre, of Winston.
"It helps keep us synchronized," she said.
Poutre enjoys performing, but really enjoys the rodeo afterwards.
"That's the best part."