Saturday, September 25, 2010

High School Rodeo

My nephew was planning to ride in his high school rodeo, and I knew this was an event I couldn't miss. I had never even heard of high school rodeo until I moved out here, although looking at the National High School Rodeo webpage, apparently it does exist in the state I grew up in.

Let me just say that if my high school had had rodeo, it would definitely have given school sports an entirely different flavor! This is a wild and unpredictable sport, as you'll see below. And it's one that is a horse lover's dream. It was impressive all the ways that the horses had been trained, and how well the young adults rode them.

I've only been to one rodeo in my life before, and never to a high school one, so I was impressed with how big the event was. People from all over the state were there, with a huge array of horse trailers and trucks. There was a large arena and a smaller arena so they could run events concurrently.

The first event was barrel racing. The basic premise of this event is ride around three barrels without knocking them down and then back across the finish line. The best time was in 17.something seconds. The times are recorded to the thousandths, with many times very close.

Many of the riders made it look deceptively easy.

It's not easy to make a tight turn around a barrel when you're trying to move as fast as possible. A barrel knocked down is a five second penalty.

After every few riders, the tractor came in to rake the arena.

I had the kids with me, and Desert Boy quickly decided he was more interested in playing in the grandstands. He made a new friend and they played a variety of games.

It was nice to keep him somewhat entertained.

An ambulance was posted at the rodeo and unfortunately had to make a couple trips to the hospital. The events had to wait until a different ambulance came to take its place.

Soon it was time for bull riding.

If I was the mother of a bull rider, I don't think I could watch. I had a hard enough time as it was.

Here's a thousand plus pounds of mad bull charging out of the gate, with a lanky teenage holding on for everything he's got, trying to stay on that magic eight seconds.

The first couple riders got hung up on the bull and didn't get a clean getaway. Another bull charged its rider after it had thrown him and horned him in the bum in retribution for the boy having the audacity to even try riding him. Ouch.

Meanwhile, in the smaller arena a goat tying competition was going on. A girl rode her horse as fast as she could, dismounted while it was still running, then tied the goats legs as fast as she could. It was all over in about ten seconds, they were fast! The jumping off the horse part obviously took a lot of coordination.

We met up with some family and Emma stole the show for awhile.

She just can't help but be cute! You can see by her bulging belly that she's enjoying eating.

Clay and his dad left with their gear so that Clay could get ready to compete.

In the big arena they were steer wrestling. That means ride your horse fast next to a running steer, jump off and tackle it, and turn its neck so that it falls to the ground.

Hmm, sounds fun, doesn't it?

Team roping was next, an event that might be a little more practical than some of the others.

Then there were three riders who competed on bareback, trying to stay on an unsaddled horse for eight seconds.

That horse doesn't look too happy to have a ride on him. Amazingly, two of the three riders stayed on for eight seconds.

Eight seconds might not sound like long, but on a bucking, angry animal, it must feel like eight hours.

I was continually amazed how the horses were so good at having all four hooves off the ground at the same time.

In the small arena it was time for poles, where you weave your horse between the poles as fast as you can.

Then it was time for Clay's event, saddle bronc. These horses looked just as mad as the big bulls.

They wanted no part of having a rider on them.

The riders were having a hard time staying on them.

And some of the dismounts were spectacular.

We watched Clay getting ready with his dad's help. Clay is smart enough to wear extra padding and a helmet so that he doesn't get too many extra bruises. When you know you're going to be falling off a tall animal sooner or later, you've got to think of a good exit strategy.

I'm not exactly sure what they're doing here, but I wonder if Clay ever thinks, 'Why am I doing this?' If it's to make his mom worried, it's working!

The rider and horse behind Gate 5 were supposed to go next, but that horse started bucking before they even opened the gate, so they had Clay go next.

He puts on his helmet...
...gets on the horse...
...and he's out in the arena!
He didn't make it the eight seconds, but the most important part was that he wasn't one of the ones needing an ambulance ride, he was able to get up and walk away.

He's competing again today. Good luck, Clay!


The Incredible Woody said...

Oh my! Desert Girl is getting SO big!!

Love a rodeo! I have a friend that used to barrel race. So back in HS, we would travel to some of the competitions that she was in to make sure she had a cheering section. Great fun!! And you got some awesome shots. I especially love the 'dismount'! :)

Anonymous said...

A rodeo looks like a photographer's dream! So much action to capture; great shots!

BTW, the word verification for this comment was 'ridem'

Caroline said...

Fun was had by all!

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