So my education in the local culture continued this weekend when I attended a local rodeo. A few miles from my home is the awesome Texas Rose Horse Park where this weekend it was rodeo time!
Okay, so I went with the pre-conceived notion that because it was local it was going to be pokey and very, very cheesy, but hey, it was quite entertaining and fun! Somehow I found it to be earthy, honest, local competition between serious local followers of the sport.
Needless to say I enjoyed it very much! Boy, do I love and appreciate Texas!
So, clutching a (very good) chicken fried steak sandwich, this is what I observed...
Rough Stock - Bronco riding!
Each competitor climbs onto a horse, which is held in a small pipe enclosure called a bucking chute. When the rider is ready, the gate of the bucking chute is opened and the horse bursts out and begins to buck. The rider attempts to stay on the horse for eight seconds without touching the horse with his free hand. On the first jump out of the chute, the rider must "mark the horse out." This means he must have the heels of his boots in contact with the horse above the point of the shoulders before the horse's front legs hit the ground. The rider that manages to complete a ride is scored on a scale of 0-50 and the horse is also scored on a scale of 0-50. Scores in the 80s are very good, and in the 90s, are exceptional. A horse who bucks in a spectacular and effective manner will score more points than a horse who bucks in a straight line with no significant changes of direction.
Calf Roping, also called Tie-down roping, is based on ranch work in which calves are roped for branding, medical treatment, or other purposes. It is the oldest of rodeo's timed events. The cowboy ropes a running calf around the neck with a lariat, and his 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 calf falls when roped, 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. A well-trained calf-roping horse will slowly back up while the cowboy ties the calf, to help keep the lariat snug.
Bullriding! (with one angry bull!)
Bull riding involves a rider getting on a large bull and attempting to stay mounted for at least 8 seconds while the animal attempts to buck off the rider. The rider tightly fastens one hand to the bull with a long braided rope. It is a risky sport and has been called "the most dangerous eight seconds in sports.
Video and photo is mine but the facts is thanks to Wikipedia.