Chris Amundson, the editor of Nebraska Life, spoke at a Nebraska Press Women’s conference I attended and I loved listening to Chris talk about the great things to be found in Nebraska.
However it was a little distracting to have this picture blown up into a poster right behind his back. It was the cover for an article they did on small town rodeo.
Here’s a link to a lot more great rodeo pictures.
It hits close for me because we have a rodeo in the next town down the road called the Hoot Gibson Memorial Rodeo in Tekamah, Nebraska. And we’ve got neighbors who are big time into rodeo, entering and competing when the rodeo is in the area, although they don’t follow the circuit.
Fun Fact: Rodeo is the official state sport of Wyoming and Texas, and the iconic silhouette image of a Bucking Horse and Rider is a federal and state registered trademark of the State of Wyoming.
Rodeo Quote: I can remember sittin’ in a cafe when I first started in rodeo, and waitin’ until somebody got done so I could finish what they left.
Chris LeDoux(1948-2005) Real life cowboy and Country western singer of Whatcha Gonna Do With a Cowboy among many great hits.
Main Rodeo Events
Barrel racing is an exclusively women’s sport. In a barrel race, horse and rider gallop around a cloverleaf pattern of barrels, making agile turns without knocking the barrels over. Look at that picture on the left. Really notice how low the horse is, almost on it’s side.
A calf is roped around the neck by a lariat, the horse stops and sets back on the rope while the cowboy dismounts, runs to the calf, throws it to the ground and ties three feet together. (If the horse throws the calf, the cowboy must lose time waiting for the calf to get back to its feet so that the cowboy can do the work. The job of the horse is to hold the calf steady on the rope) This activity is still practiced on modern working ranches for branding, medical treatment, and so on.
In spite of popular myth, most modern “broncs” are not in fact wild horses, but are more commonly spoiled riding horses or horses bred specifically as bucking stock. Rough stock events also use well-trained riding horses ridden by “pick up men” (or women), of whom there are usually at least two, tasked with assisting fallen riders and helping successful riders get safely off the bucking animal.
There are two divisions in rodeo, bareback bronc riding, where the rider is only allowed to hang onto a bucking horse with a type of surcingle called a “rigging,” and saddle bronc riding, where the rider is allowed a specialized western saddle without a horn (for safety) and may hang onto a heavy lead rope, called a bronc rein, which is attached to a halter on the horse.
An event where the cowboys ride full-grown bulls instead of horses. Although skills and equipment similar to those needed for bareback bronc riding are required, the event differs considerably from horse riding competition due to the danger involved. Because bulls are unpredictable and may attack a fallen rider, Rodeo clowns, now known as Bullfighters, work during bull riding competition to help prevent injury to competitors.
Some interesting rodeo facts: Rodeo stresses its western folk hero image and its being a genuinely American creation. But in fact it grew out of the practices of Spanish ranchers and their Mexican ranch hands (vaqueros), a mixture of cattle wrangling and bull fighting that dates back to the sixteenth-century conquistadors. But you know…what does American mean if not a melting pot from all over the world?
There would probably be no steer wrestling at all in American rodeo were it not for a black cowboy from Texas named Bill Pickettwho devised his own unique method of bulldogging steers. He jumped from his horse to a steer’s back, bit its upper lip, and threw it to the ground by grabbing its horns. He performed at local central Texas fairs and rodeos and was discovered by an agent, who signed him on a tour of the West with his brothers. He received sensational national publicity with his bulldogging exhibition at the 1904 Cheyenne Frontier Days. This brought him a contract with the famous 101 Ranch in Oklahoma and its traveling Wild West exhibitions, where he spent many years performing in the United States and abroad. I’ve seen bull riding competitions and it’s a mean sport. I don’t care for it. But the crowd goes wild.
I remember a few years ago some company was selling ‘Great Rodeo Moments’ on TV and they’d run these awful clips, over and over, of riders getting gored by a bull or trampled by a horse. I went and looked at YouTube but honestly the clips there are pretty hard to watch. So I’m not sending you there. Go at your own risk.
8 Seconds-starring Luke Perry
Electric Horseman – starring Robert Redford
Pure Country – Starring George Strait
If you want to see some more really cool rodeo photos by Erik Stenbakken who took the picture at the top of this that I’m calling Mud Soaked Cowboy go here: http://www.stenbakken.com/ Click on Portfolios and then Rodeos. Very talented guy.
Any rodeo fans here today?
Have you got a favorite rodeo movie or rodeo cowboy I didn’t mention? What’s a cowboy got in him that makes him climb on that bull? There are cowgirls out there, too, and they’re pretty tough. Let’s hear rodeo memories, opinions or just tell me Whatcha Gonna Do With a Cowboy……