April 19, 2014
Rodeo here in my town is over and done with for another year and a week later I am still recovering! Both the girls and I managed to make it through pretty much unscathed so that is always a good thing. I didn’t have to strip the over 200 steers that came through my chutes over the weekend so all in all I was a pretty happy girl.
I took off work Wednesday and Thursday as well as Friday because I began to stress over all the stuff I still needed to do to get ready for the weekend. The girls and I pretty much move lock, stock, and barrel out to the ranch for those three days and I didn’t have anything packed, washed, or cleaned. Plus the horses had to be moved to the rodeo grounds so they needed to be brought up and brushed and bathed. I was a little crazy!
Of course nothing worked out like it was supposed to. The cowboy came early, the horses didn’t get bathed, and we went shopping for our groceries on Thursday instead of Wednesday. We did get the tack cleaned and by the time my other daughter showed up at the ranch Thursday evening we were pretty well set up.
The weather was perfect. Breezy and sunny, we couldn’t have asked for better weather. Slack started late on Friday–they were having problems with the chute gates on the other end of the arena. We had a couple of steers break horns but other than that there were no injuries to any of the stock or cowboys who participated in the rodeo.
This year we had a large Palomino stud in the catch pen next to our chutes. He was enormous! Rodeo contractors have begun breeding Draft horses to smaller horses to get bigger, tougher stock. They need to have good heavy leg bones to withstand the pounding they take while bucking. This boy, Wild Times, was a good 16 or 17 hands tall, and very impressive. We were a little apprehensive about having a stud for a neighbor but it turned out our fears were unnecessary.
One of the misconceptions about rodeo stock, especially the horses, is that these animals are wild, vicious creatures that cannot be handled and hate human beings. Some of the horses are not friendly, granted, but you have to realize that they can’t be wild since the cowboys who care for them have to be able to handle them to get their feet done by the farriers and for any vet care they may need. All of the things you have to do with a horse requires the horse to be tied up with a halter and lead rope or at least tolerate human touch. Again, not all rodeo stock can be handled easily but then again there are horses that are out in stables right now that will kick when you try to do their feet or rear when they have to get a shot or be wormed. Its more the horse and how its been handled from the time it was young than anything to do with personality or what the horse is used for. But I digress.
We weren’t really sure why Wild Times was at the rodeo. I have always assumed that the horses that buck are either mares or geldings, but apparently they also buck stallions. Who knew?! They took Wild Times out Sunday and we figured he was gone for the rest of the rodeo, but about an hour later he was back, just a little more sweaty than when he had left before. I looked at my program and realized he was on the list of saddle broncs!
Again, here is a misconception. Bronc and bull riders wear spurs. It is required equipment and when a cowboy comes out of the chute on a bronc he is required to have his heels up high on the horse’s shoulders as they come out to begin bucking. A good rider gets the rhythm of the bronc and spurs from shoulder to flanks in time with the horse’s bucks. But the spurs aren’t sharp. People think the horses come back bloodied and welted up, but after examining Wild Times I couldn’t see a mark on him. He went and did his job and was in a much better mood when he returned! Obviously he enjoys his work and was a happy boy!
Wild Times had very gentle eyes, and to tell you the truth I was pretty much in love with him. By the time Sunday rolled around I was kissing him on the lips and all of us were petting him and loving on him. (My daughter even gave him some of our Gatorade! Well, he helped himself to her bottle that she was holding…) He put his head over the fence and closed his eyes and just ate up all the attention. I was tempted to tell Cotton Rosser, the stock contractor that owned him, that if they ever decided to geld the horse I would love to have him! Not sure how I could afford another horse so it was probably good that I didn’t see Cotton any more that day!
Grand Entry is the only thing that Sierra and I participate in with our horses, and this year was not a good one. Sierra’s mare Canyon decided that she did NOT want to go into the arena on Saturday and began to act up once we hit the back turn . By the time we got around to the bucking chutes at the rear of the arena and had to line up Canyon was dancing away from me and my horse and just being stupid. I couldn’t help her because I was holding a flag so Sierra had to take her out. She was so embarrassed!
On Sunday I had Sierra ride on the other side of me, figuring I could herd her to where she needed to be, but that didn’t work either and she had to leave the arena before we even lined up. Then my horse, Tahoe, realized she was standing out there by herself without any horse near her that she knew and it was MY turn for a rodeo! She began nickering and spinning, looking for Canyon. I made her line back up and she would stand for a few seconds then begin shaking her head again and spinning and lifting. Since I was carrying the Coors flag I only had one hand to control her with and my legs, and she just kept rearing and spinning despite my best efforts to get her to calm down. I decided that I was going to either land on my butt in the arena dirt if I kept holding the flag or I was going to have to dump the flag and get her under control. I chose to leave the arena instead and trotted out with dignity still carrying my flag!
So how many of you follow rodeo? Or maybe you have never been to one. If there is a rodeo near you I highly recommend checking it out. Rodeo is one American’s oldest sports, having come out of the Old West when the cowboys from the different cattle ranches would get together and compete against each other for bragging rights as to who could break the wildest broncs or rope a calf fastest. There are many different events in rodeo. My favorites have always been bull riding and barrel racing. (My friend, Ted Nuce, was the World Champion Bull Rider at the NFR back in 1985. I have been hooked ever since!) Whatever event you prefer, I can guarantee you a great afternoon of non-stop entertainment and excitement!
Rodeo. Where real cowboys and cowgirls have dirt on their boots and the buckles are earned and not bought. It’s more than a sport, it’s a way of life. I’m grateful that I get to participate every year. I don’t do as much as the ones who ride, but what I do is important and I wouldn’t trade my weekend with the rodeo for anything in the world! I’m already looking forward to next year. Now if I can just get our mares to be a little more excited to be in Grand Entry…