Rafter MB hosts NVRHA and readies for Arena BBQ restaurant to reopen for summer

Myrle and Birgit Ingle own and run Rafter MB Quarter Horses Arena and Event Center in Wheatland. The ranch opened its indoor arena and restaurant May 13-14 to the National Versatility Ranch Horse Association (NVRHA) competition. Ingle puts a special recipe rub on the meat that he smokes at Arena BBQ. The National Versatility Ranch Horse Association came to Wheatland to hold a competition May 14 at Rafter MB Quarter Horses Arena and Event Center located at 210 Sybille Creek Road.

WHEATLAND – The National Versatility Ranch Horse Association (NVRHA) came to Wheatland to hold a training and competition May 13-14 at the Rafter MB Quarter Horses Arena and Event Center.

The NVRHA runs five competitions per year according to Heather Hart who was an organizer and clinician for the competitors.

“I had a lot of people requesting me to come to Wheatland,” she said. “We are very beginner friendly and we love to have beginners. We had 30 all total this weekend and some were just newbies.”

The competitions are all based upon actual jobs that people will do on the ranch.

“It’s a little more practical than just a western pleasure,” she said. “We have five classes. We have cutting, ranch riding, working cow horse, trails and confirmation.”

Jonathan Vrabec, Erin Mullane, Karen Weagraff and Hart were all trainers and taught at the one-day clinic before the competition began.

“We are heading to Glenrock next,” Hart said. “We hold competitions mainly on the eastern side of the state.”

According to Myrle Ingle, co-owner of Rafter MB Quarter Horses Arena and Event Center, this is one of two major organizations in the state that run this kind of competition.

“This was a competition today,” Ingle said. “They won awards such as ribbons and buckles. Although today was the competition, yesterday, all day long, the NVRHA requires a clinic the day before the show. This show, when you pay your entry fee which is a lot, it pays for all events and training.”

Arena BBQ, the renowned summertime barbecue restaurant in Wheatland will be opening its doors once again for weekends beginning the first weekend in June. (June 3-5) As per last year, the restaurant will be open from 11 a.m. - 6 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Sundays. With Arena BBQ, the food is so popular that many times, it sells out early. The best thing to do is call ahead and order by phone so it is waiting for you when you get there.

“This year we are going to do smoked beef ribs as our special,” Ingle said. “We will also have our regular pork belly special, pork loin, brisket along with our original sides.”

The team of Birgit Ingle who runs the kitchen and Myrle Ingle who does the cooking has been a winning combination since the restaurant opened two years ago.

Two years ago Myrle Ingle created a combination steamer/smoker that produces sausage, brisket and chicken that has a flavor and tenderness not seen in many barbecue restaurants.

last year, he has invented a new grill which adds a southwest flair to the already popular eating establishment.

For some people who have found the quirky, out-of-the-way weekend barbecue restaurant that is just five minutes from the I-25 corridor, the comment most used is “addicting.”

People stand in line and usually cause the restaurant to sell out long before business hours are over leaving hungry patrons only the satisfaction of smelling the delicious “what we missed,” and the immediate scheduling to call in their orders for the next time.

“The grill I am creating is a combination of an Argentine grill and a Santa Maria grill, but with a twist,” Ingle said. “For thick tri-tips, the grill will drop the meat really close to the coals so you get your sear. It’s a big flat cut of meat. The grill then raises the meat up so it finishes cooking at a lower temperature so it’s tender.”

Ingle, who realizes that competition is heating up in the local epicurean market, has just added something that nobody else has and remains ahead of the barbecue game as to innovative cooking of the meat.

The base of the grill is perlite cement so that the metal base of the grill will not rust out. The grill has the wood fire box on one side and as the oak Ingle uses breaks down into the coals, the hot coal is shoveled to the actual cooking box under the metal grates.

“It’s going to be live fire,” he said. “So whether it’s fish, hamburgers or whatever I cook, it will be on an open fire. This is the combination as I’ve said, but instead of having the entire grill enclosed, it is open, so you can easily shovel the coals into the cooking area from the fire box.”

Ingles said that in the event a new barbecue place should open up, he feels he can still beat them on flavor due to his steamer/smoker, but he is 5 miles out of town.  

“With the Santa Maria along with the barbecue smoker, I now have an advantage and can cook T-bones, fish, lobster, ribeye, and even vegetables on the open fire.”

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