Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Mystery Called Rodeo

I was confiding to a casual friend my interest in rodeo and she asked me a simple question--why? She wasn't being snarky, but she was looking at a suburbanite who was living a fairly typical suburban life and wondering how this woman (me) had fallen in love with rodeo.

Certainly, I grew up on a farm and we did own a horse and my sisters did barrel race, but my life now is far removed from those days. And maybe that's part of the attraction. When I'm at the rodeo, I'm that farm girl again. The one who used to bring home all the stray animals, who used to play in mud, who loved to eat cherry tomatoes right off the vine and dip her stick of fresh rhubarb in a bag of sugar for a bittersweet treat. That's the sentimental draw of rodeo.

But there is another, competitive side that draws me to rodeo. These cowboys are literally risking their life for a long shot at a little money. And they aren't competing with each other as much as they are competing with themselves and against the bull or horse they are riding or the steer they are roping. Most of the time, the bull or horse wins. This is especially true if you watch a small town rodeo--then you realize just how difficult the sport is. Whether bronc riding or tie-down roping, these are difficult skills which the top fifteen rodeo cowboys in each category make look easy at an event like the National Finals Rodeo, coming up December 3-12 in Los Vegas. It's a dream of mine to attend that event. I'm shooting for 2013 when my daughter enters college and my husband and I will be free to go. Until then, I have to be content with setting the DVR to tape in the wee hours of the morning, which is when the previous night's action is broadcast in my neck of the woods. That's how far removed I am from rodeo. (My small town, however, does host an annual rodeo--the only one to do so for miles and miles around.:)

And then, of course, there are the cowboys and horses that get to my passionate side. All those cowboys, all that horse flesh. I just love a man in a cowboy hat, chaps and boots sitting atop a horse. It always provides a creative boost, ala my story Re-ride at the Rodeo.

As for that mystery called rodeo, I like being just a little bit unpredictable, like that bronc that comes busting out of the gate, only to twist the exact opposite way than the cowboy expects.

Here's to all the cowboys out there and those barrel racing cowgirls who show gumption, grit and guts. My cowgirl hat is off to you all.

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