Monday, May 11, 2015

Well, it's 40 below and I don't give a...

Me, Jordan, & Deann
If you don't recognize what my title is in reference to, it's lyrics from the Rodeo Song. Look up the entire lyrics for a laugh, but only if you're not offended by swearing and inappropriate content. It's hilarious.

I use the song for my title because this last weekend I went to my first rodeo. The reasoning behind my traveling five hours away in a camper to a dust bowl filled with all the animals I'm allergic to is two-fold. 1. One of my best friend's daughter does rodeo. I've been wanting to watch her for awhile and rodeo season is almost over. 2. I've been thinking about writing a book about rodeo life. My friend, her name is Deann, moved to Wyoming way back after graduating college. She lived there for 20 years and now she's back in my hood, like, literally, she lives about a minute away from me.
This was the real traffic on our way out of town

On very very long drive, she and daughter, Jordan, schooled me on rodeo phrases, events, etc. I diligently took notes in a small notebook. During the rodeo, I continued to take notes and pictures so when I write this book, I can make it as authentic as possible.

Rodeo is an eye-opening adventure. You really have no idea about the skill, the danger, and the environment as a whole until you experience it, full force. Here is a run down of events:

  • Barrel Racing - This is done by females. They race their horses around three barrels in a clover pattern. 
  • Bareback and Saddlebronc - Males ride bucking horses until they fall off or reach 8 seconds. One with saddles, one without.
  • Bull Riding
  • Bull riding - Males ride bucking bull until they fall off or reach 8 seconds. With this and the Bareback and Saddlebronc, they are scored by certain actions they do while riding. That's how they get different scores.
  • Tie Down Roping - Males chase a calf, rope it, I hate to use the word throw but I don't know how else to say it...they throw the calf to the ground, and have to tie three legs together, The ties have to last for 6 seconds to get scored.
  • Breakaway - This is the females version of Tie Down, however the girls only have to rope the calf, then the rope between the calf and their horse "breaks away." The time stops after the rope breaks.
  • Steer Wrestling - Males chase a steer on their horse, when they're next to it, they lean over and grab it and leave their horse, then they wrestle it to the ground. They have to have all four
    Steer Wrestling
    legs in the air for time to stop.
  • Team Roping - There are two riders, can be all females, all males or one of each. They chase a calf. One of them ropes the horns, after that is accomplished, the other ropes the back legs. 
  • Goat Roping or Goat Tying - This is a female event. Same as Tie down for the men, I think. I never got to see this event. 
  • Pole Bending - Same as Barrel Racing except instead of racing around barrels, the contestants weave in and out of 6 poles.
I'm not the biggest animal lover, but I don't want harm to come to them either. I was assured that the animals used don't really feel the pain it appears they are enduring. Cows have a lot of fat on them, so when they're laid on the ground, it doesn't really hurt. They put protective gear on their heads during the roping events.  To make the horses and bulls buck, a strap is placed around their flank area, which is uncomfortable, but not painful (which is better than what I was led to believe, that their balls were cinched up). I was also told that when they're not doing rodeo, these animals are spoiled and have great lives. I hope this is the case.

Jordan competes in Breakaway and Team Roping.
Jordan doing Breakaway
Jordan & Team Rope Partner Jacob

It's not easy. You can probably tell that from the pictures. In fact, many of the riders don't get times at all because they fail in their tasks. Bull, Saddlebronc, and Bareback riders don't get a time if they don't last 8 seconds. Pole Benders and Barrel Racers don't get time if their horse goes off course. Those who do Breakaway and the Tie Down events don't get a time if they fail to rope, their rope comes off, or they don't finish in the allotted amount of time (latter is for team rope only).

In Jordan's events only 9 out of 26 got times for Team Roping and 11 of 35 for Breakaway.

The Rodeo World is pretty tight. These same kids compete at the same rodeos all over the state. So they all know each other. Cliques form  just like with any other environment, and the kids are in competition, so there's bound to be conflict. The parents all seemed friendly and supportive, and there were many tight knit groups. It was a positive atmosphere.

Aside from learning rodeo skills, these kids are taught responsibility and manners as well. They were all very polite, they treated their horses well. It was up to them to feed and water them and clean the stalls when it was all over.

Our home for the weekend.
I enjoyed the rodeo. It was interesting. It was fun to be a part of that environment for the weekend. Even staying in the camper was a blast, though close quarters. Over the weekend I was able to plot out some of the storyline of my rodeo book.

I think I'm going to go back with them in two weeks, when the kids compete for state championships. I'd like to see what it's like for these kids to win or lose.

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