My favorite event of the Rodeo's run is the Ranch Rodeo, which is always held opening weekend.
What is a "Ranch Rodeo" you ask? And how does it differ from any other "rodeo"?
Here's how the Rodeo's website describes it:
"Authentic ranch cowboys will compete in events that have aspects of traditional ranch work. Ranch Vet, Double Mugging, Stock Sorting, Bronc Riding and Wild Cow Milking are all in a days work for these cowboys."
Several ranches from the Southwest (Texas, NM and OK) are invited to "put up or shut up". Their cowboys (and cowgirls) compete in the events above, which are slightly different from regular rodeo where professional cowboys compete for money. The ranch rodeo cowboys are competing for the fun of it.
And boy howdy, is it FUN!
The events are held at Will Rogers Coliseum here in town.
The rodeo kicks off with a grand entry parade and then the presentation of the 6 flags that have flown over the state of Texas (Spain, France, Mexico, Republic of Texas, Confederacy and the USA) by cowgirls on Palomino horses:
Cowboys waiting for their instructions to sort cattle (called "cutting" - cutting a certain heifer out of the herd below).
and the cowboy rides in (the white on the cows are numbers - the cowboy has to cut the numbered cow that they are assigned, without the others getting away too).
Mr Tom Saunders is the stock contractor (isn't his mustache handsome?!).
I love this paint pony!
Rope 'er cowboy!!
Mutton bustin' is another favorite event: kids ages 4-6 try to hang on to a sheep as she goes galloping towards her herd mates.
And then there's this:
saddle bronc riding
yeah. ouch. I love all the guys on the chutes in the background.
this one ended up being my favorite picture of the night.
look at the strength of that bronc!
last, but certainly not least is the Wild Cow Milking.
the formula goes something like this:
4 cowboys on horseback
+ 1 big unhappy momma cow
+ 1 beer bottle (to hold the milk)
1 cowboy ropes her, and he stays on his horse to try to hold her steady.
2 cowboys try to hold her steady - one at the head and one at the tail (doncha feel sorry for the guy who pulled the short straw and has to grab her tail?!?)
the 4th cowboy (whom you can barely see in this photo) tries to squeeze a couple of drops of milk out of her udders into the beer bottle.
I'll tell you that I have no intentions of milking ANY cows anytime soon, much less a wild one. Kudos to these cowboys for their can-do attitude!
a couple of cowboys from the winning ranch:
I just like these guys. Well, these two, plus all the other cowboys and cowgirls who participated. When it was all over, they all congratulated each other on horseback, and probably headed out to have a cold one on the town. It was Saturday night after all!
If you have the chance to attend a rodeo - ranch, professional, exhibition, amateur or otherwise - take it. Unless you're allergic to animals, you won't regret it!
Enjoy your new day!!