The rodeo kicked off with bareback riding. Cowboys come out of the "chute" and are required to have their feet above the horse's shoulders until the animal's front feet hit the ground. The horses buck like crazy and the cowboys hold on for dear life. Some of them are thrown quickly; others held on for the entire time. Our favorite was the guy who jumped off his horse after the buzzer sounded like a gymnast doing a dismount. The ones who were able to lie almost prone on their horses seemed to score the best. We figured out that if you start slipping to the side, you are toast. The saddle bronc riding was a later event and--to my inexperienced eye--was basically the same but for the fact that the rider is in a saddle. Either way, it's pretty crazy.
|Uncle Cap at Work|
There were also a number of steer-related events at the rodeo. (They say "steer" but they were certainly not full-size, although I expect they are plenty strong.) First there was the steer wrestling, where the steer is let out of the gate followed by the cowboy on his horse. The cowboy is supposed to grab the steer's horns from his horse, then jump off and wrestle the steer to the ground. One guy accomplished this is less than 10 seconds, which was pretty amazing. Others never even got near their steer (at which point a tune like Patsy Kline's "I'm Sorry" would play over the loud speakers.) Then there were two roping events, team roping and tie down roping. In the team roping, one of the pair is responsible for lassoing the steer's horns and the second is responsible for lassoing its back legs. Time is added to your score if you only lasso one leg. You really only get one chance to rope the little guy, so if your aim is off, that's it. I think there was only one pair that was successful in getting the horns and both legs tied before the buzzer rang. In the tie down event, the cowboy lassos the horns of the steer and yanks it back towards the horse. When the cowboy reaches the steer, it has to be standing and he has to wrestle it to the ground, tie down three of its legs, throw his hands into the air (like at the end of a challenge on Top Chef) and back away for six seconds to see if the rope holds. A couple of guys got their steer tied down in a blink of an eye; others gave you time to drink a cup of coffee before they had them under control.
We also saw a "quadrille," which is eight pairs of riders who do the equivalent of a square dance with their horses, and the "calf scramble," where children up to the age of 12 are invited into the corral to chase steer around and try to pull the kerchiefs from their tails. This looked kind of dangerous to me but lots of parents let their little ones--many wearing toddler sized cowboy boots--out for the fun and most of them even ran in the right direction (which is more than I can say for my nephew's little league football games). At this point, Jay had had about all the fun he could take, so we left before the barrel racing and the bull riding.
All in all, this was quite an entertaining way to spend an afternoon. It just goes to show that Southwest Florida really does have it all!