DARBY, Mont. -

Cowboys, cowgirls and fast and rowdy rodeo stock have come to the Bitterroot to test their rodeo skills this week.

Fans are coming to watch the National Senior Pro Rodeo. The prestigious four-day event kicked off at the arena in Darby.

There are 140 competitors from all over the world vying for buckles.

The youngsters in the crowd are well seasoned, 40-plus, and move up in age as far as their late 70s.

"I'm 53 years old, and it gives us a chance to keep on living the dream," said tie-down calf roper Joel Stephens, with his horse Ody.

"I was a pro bareback rider in the '80s," said Stephens, "and of course that ended, and so I'm able to go back into it and rodeo, and have a good time."

Stephens lives in Yellowhead County, Alberta. But he used to live in Kalispell.

The rodeo continues Wednesday evening at 6 p.m. in Darby.

Hamilton will host the seniors Friday and Saturday evening at 8 p.m. at the Ravalli County Fairgrounds.