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PFD Arena Safety and the Justin Best Footing Award

PFD Arena Safety and the Justin Best Footing Award

One of the unspoken heroes of the World’s Oldest Rodeo is the man who goes above and beyond to make safe footing in PFD arenas for horses, riders, and other animal athletes. PFD Facilities Manager Mike Alderete, with his faithful dog Hank riding along, can usually be found expertly grooming the arenas with heavy equipment that consists of a water truck, a gannon, and a farm tractor with an arena groomer attached.

With his trademark grin, Mike noted that there is a real science to arena grooming. He’s got to keep track of the weather, figure out how much water is needed, and prepare the arena for individual events; each equine event requires different footing (e.g., barrel racing, team roping, or the all-out rodeo). “One of the key things I do is build durability, flexibility, and safety into the soil,” Mike said. “This is the horses’ and riders’ livelihood. They’ve got to make those points and move on to the next rodeo.” With safety being the most important component, Mike makes sure the contestants have a safe and equal arena to compete in.

Every year, the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association (WPRA) — the oldest women’s sports association in the country — partners with Justin Brands to recognize the hard work and time rodeo personnel put into making their arenas as safe as possible for barrel racing horses and all rodeo livestock. The Justin Best Footing Award focuses on the health and well-being of the animal athletes. Expert arena grooming, like Alderete’s, helps ensure the safest and most consistent ground possible to keep contestants and livestock safe.

Thanks to Alderete’s outstanding hands-on experience, PFD won the prestigious Justin Best Footing award in 2022 and received 2nd place in 2021 and 2023 (Justin gives awards to the top three arenas every year). Prior to his and General Manager Jim Dewey Brown’s arrival, PFD had not won the award since 2006. Mike has consistently won awards for best arena maintenance and is working hard to earn the award in 2024. He says, “I’m a competitor and I want to get my title back!”

Contestants know when they attend a Prescott Frontier Days arena event, Mike Alderete has already been there, putting his award-winning talent to work to help keep them and their livestock safe.

Mike Alderete and his pal Hank prepare to groom the PFD arena. Photo courtesy of Yvonne Gibbs.