It’s been years since I last went to a rodeo, but with plans to go back this weekend, I’ve been thinking a lot about my past experiences with livestock animals, ranch visits and the like.
My first memory of the rodeo goes back at least 20 years to a family vacation in Wyoming. After hours on the road, we pulled off for a night in Cody, the self-proclaimed “rodeo capital” of the world. I don’t remember a whole lot, but I do recall running down from the stands and taking part in a kids calf scramble that left me covered in dirt and empty handed. And while I didn’t win, I do look back fondly on that night with thoughts of my family and seeing the sun set on a town with so much Western history and culture.
At some other point in my childhood, I made it out to the mountains of Colorado and found myself on a horseback riding tour. The afternoon was largely uneventful until we were heading back and my horse decided to take off. As a young kid, I’m sure it felt as if my horse was hauling a lot faster than he really was, but I could have sworn he was trying to shake me loose, and would very soon. Thankfully for my sake and my parents’, I was able to hold on, and we wrapped up the day with some lasso lessons on foot.
While it may be one of the highlights of the rodeo, bull riding never appealed to me. Years ago, my dad told me a story of how he was chased onto a farmhouse roof by a loose bull, and from that point forward, I was wary. Sports Center highlights show plenty of bull riders pulling off an impressive eight seconds and landing on their feet, but if I ever gave it shot, I think I’d find myself flying through the air or under stamping hooves pretty quick.
Among this weekend’s rodeo goers, I’ll probably be considered one of the city slickers and that’s OK. I didn’t grow up out in the country or around a lot of animals, but I can still appreciate the lifestyle, the work and the pride that gets roped into all things rodeo related.