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Monkeys riding dogs?

August 5, 2008 - Cindy Votruba
Apparently monkeys have been riding dogs since the early 1900s, said rodeo entertainer Tim Lepard. Lepard is the featured entertainment for this year’s Barnes PRCA Rodeo Thursday and Friday at the Lyon County Fair. For 25 years, he’s trained exotic monkeys how to ride border collies. He uses three of each animal in his act.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to meet the monkeys as they were relaxing in their air-conditioned trailer at Gene Schrunk’s ranch. But I talked with Lepard about how he got into rodeo in the first place. He credits his oldest brother, who was a Green Beret. Lepard started out bullriding for four years, but severe injuries and nine surgeries stopped that career path.

So Lepard started training monkeys to ride dogs. It’s an act that can practically sell itself, he said.

Lepard pulled into Marshall Tuesday morning after doing a show in Farmington over the weekend. Life on the road is long and hard nine months out of the year, and he wishes he could see his 3-year-old daughter more often.

But Lepard likes what he does, and his work is appreciated all over the country. On his website,, he said he strongly believes in the “Tough Enough to Wear Pink” campaign the PCA became involved in. “Breast Cancer is a disease that affects many of our families, friends and fans and we need to do what we can to help find a cure,” he wrote on his site.

I’ll have to say visiting with Lepard and rodeo announcer Kelly Kenney at Gene Shrunk’s ranch was fun. A little out of the ordinary. And the dogs and the cats creeping around added to the fun. Gene said there are about 27 cats running around the ranch. A couple of them did attach themselves to my pants leg, but I didn’t mind. I like cats, and apparently, they like me.

• Went to see Lake Benton’s production of “High School Musical” on Saturday afternoon. It was a full house, which was nice to see, being a theater geek myself, and there were two bus groups from Sioux Falls.

• I’m a third-generation Scrabble player and I got to learn “speed Scrabble” from a few of the folks involved in Marshall Area Stage Company’s Shakespeare in the Park production, which included the director and his wife. It’s a lot of fun and a lot of swearing going on at the Starbucks. Hope to play it again sometime.


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