Just a light breeze this June, Saturday night as the pickups started to fill the dirt lot. There is the unmistakable sound of cowboy boots over the white worn wood bleachers. Cowboys in their finest hats and cowgirls in wrangles tight enough to keep a sane man praying for a week of Sunday’s.
I’ve always admired the strength of cowboys. Not in a “Broke Back Mountain” context but their strong will and ability to keep things simple.
The only way to really understand much of this is to spend some time behind the chute of a rodeo or on the flat lands during a roundup…both offer a unique opportunity that is a rare insight to a special breed of men.
The stock is uneasy in the pen just a few feet away and the dust is littered with gear bags. Cowboy’s are checking ropes, gloves and rigs, some tied to the fence checking every inch of leather for a problem that will be compounded by an animal hell-bent on causing them some type of harm.
The air reeks of chew, bengay and beer only tempered by horse and cow shit.
Rodeo is an intense sport given each event bareback, steer wresting, saddle bronc and bull riding just a few of the rough-stock or judged events that bring in a dinner check or buckle. The description of athlete falls short when it comes to these folks.
It’s not often that you witness a man sitting on hide and hooves for eight seconds; a ton of hurricane.
Nothing like 2000 pounds of snorting, slobbering meat to get your attention.
The time is just enough to help prevent the cowboy from being killed and wearing out the stock that may have more value in the long haul.
Back in the early days before too many rules and regulations and lawsuits hit the PRCA (The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association) you could get heal deep in the dirt inside the arena to photograph. It was an adrenaline rush like no other!
I had more luck than I was fast in the early days but can remember just making the fence and getting brushed by the shoulder of a beast that made fast work of a cowboy by spinning to his inside tied hand. It felt like being brushed by a half ton Chevy and the rodeo clown became my new best friend but not in a “Broke Back Mountain” way.
Just Ten Simple Cowboy Rules:
#1. Never approach a bull from the front, a horse from the rear, or a fool from any direction.
#2. Don’t squat with your spurs on.
#3. Don’t judge people by their relatives.
#4.Behind every successful rancher is a wife who works in town.
#5. When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.
#6. Talk slowly, think quickly.
#7. Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
#8. Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and think back, you’ll enjoy it a second time.
#9. Don’t interfere with something that ain’t botherin’ you none.
#10. Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance.